NANGOZA JEBE HALL
Viva ANC, Viva!
Viva SANCO, Viva!
Viva SACP, Viva!
Viva COSATU, Viva!
Roar Young Lions, Roar.
We are gathered here under macabre, morbid circumstances as a Nation. But what binds us is the fact that Mama Winnie was a person that was full of life and enjoyed it, although life dealt her a different set of cards than the rest of us. With that in mind, we may be here to mourn as the occasion suggests, but we must always rejoice and celebrate the life and times of a revolutionary par excellence in the mould of Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela.
Her generation is leaving us behind and does so at a time where, as a nation and the continent at large, need their wisdom and wise counsel. One never knows the value of the thing that one possesses, until the day they lose it. We are now poorer to have lost such a courageous person, who always displayed features akin to those displayed by a Mother Hen, which guards its young from all the intrusion and security breaches posed by hunters who may have an intention to devour it.
Our stalwart, Mama Winnie, knew very well that the generation of the 1970’s and the one that followed it of the 1980s needed parents and guidance, both in the figurative and literal sense. She provided that which was needed by the circumstances of the time. She was the real Mother Hen and kept the enemy at bay in her attempt to protect the young people who showed an immense interest in the struggle for liberation of South Africa from the bondage of colonialism and the scourge of apartheid.
She performed her role with aplomb and deserves all the accolades that have been bestowed upon her. The enemy was relentless in its pursuit of her and their persecution of her for who she was and what they deemed she represented. All of those tactics that they applied in isolating her from her people and trying to tarnish her image, using their instruments they had planted inside the liberation movement. The tactic of the enemy that was put into good use then, in persecuting and denigrating Mama Winnie, continued to be utilised even after the attainment of liberation in 1994.
Mama Winnie was the symbol of resistance against the apartheid regime and served as a beacon of hope for the hopeless. Her conviction of her beliefs and courage to confront the enemy, even when it believed that it dealt a fatal blow to her political and personal lives. Lesser men and women of stature fell, many not because of their weaknesses to resist the enemy, but they wanted to enjoy the benefits the association with the enemy provided at the time. Mama Winnie was a qualified Social Development/Welfare Practitioner. The heavens above could not have directed her to a more appropriate job in life, even though the system barred her from putting her skills into use.
It was what she lived, breathed, and spoke. The welfare of her people was dearest and uppermost in her heart. As a mother, she always wore her heart on her sleeve in her defence of her children. Her children were not only her biological children. Even those she adopted from the liberation struggle were equal in her eyes. It is mostly recorded that her children would complain that their mother treated other children better than them, because she was always on call to offer assistance and a shoulder to cry on, readily.
An African woman has an in-built mechanism to deal with frustration and persecution, in a manner that would not be easily exhibited in her cosmetic features. Mama Winnie was blessed in abundance with this character trait. Her unflinching spirit, even when she was banished to an arid area like Brandfort in the Free State province, always shone through. A horrible system like apartheid tried every trick to vex her to abandon the struggle.
When all else failed and found that they could not penetrate through her, they used a tactic to create enmity between her and her incarcerated husband by attempting to start to open talks with her, and she correctly sent them packing and directed them to the chain of command of the African National Congress (ANC), an organisation that she had given all her adult life to, and which she served until her last day on this earth.
Mama Winnie accepted all those the system termed as vagabonds, drifters, vagrants, and nurtured them into refined and polished politicians that some of us are today.
The importance of the unity of the motive forces was uppermost in her agenda and preached this everywhere she goes. She also knew that unity does not come at all costs. Prevailing conditions must be taken into consideration and there should be willingness from all corners to desire unity. The moniker that was assigned to her, ‘’Mother of the Nation’’, fitted properly with her persona.
She mothered the African majority when the situation demanded it and invested her time and resources to ensure that those she came into contact with, never lose hope in the dream of an attainment of the liberation, which, to many, was as elusive as the amputation of the economic power of the western powers which enabled the apartheid government. President Woodrow Wilson had uttered words of advice which fit perfectly for an august occasion such as this one, and he said, ‘’you are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand’’.
Mama Winnie was so in touch with the ground and she kept her ear to the ground at all times and she was trusted by the masses. She knew of what the apartheid government and its racialised media termed as land invasions, she knew about the rent boycotts, she knew about the bus boycotts. There was just that telepathic relationship that she enjoyed with the masses of our people and the trust that they invested in her and the loyalty she repaid them with.
This trait she possessed speaks volumes of the trust deficit that the leadership, both in the movement and in governance, and the masses of our people. Hence, it is imperative that we embark on an exercise that will ensure our people, gradually, begin to invest trust in the Mass Democratic Movement.
The mudslinging that we display in public platforms, which we utilise to denigrate, disparage and vilify one another instead of building our structures and work tirelessly in the quest to regain the trust of our people speaks volumes of our priorities and how disjointed our political outlook and overview is.
The disappearance of Mama Winnie from our realm should serve as a reminder that we need each other and that in unity, we derive more strength than when we are asunder. If anything, the departure of Mama Winnie from this earth should be the catalyst that ensures that we resuscitate our collective political consciences, and work towards attaining and reaching a National Democratic Society, which Mama Winnie aspired to attain during her lifetime.
Her ideals and the values that she espoused should be adopted by all revolutionaries and we should desist from attempting to emulate animals of the jungle, who, when faced with a devastating drought, they start to be display cannibalistic tendencies and attack each other in order to live through another day. Let us all join in, in celebrating the life and times of Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela- Mandela.
Her race is finished. She has reached her final destination and passed with flying colours in her journey of life. Her journey, as depicted and accounted many a times, was filled with potholes, but she managed to navigate those potholes so elegantly in only a manner that a lady would, with poise and stature. Let us salute her for her contribution to the attainment of the liberation of this country we now proudly call the Republic of South Africa.