6 Things You Should Know About Winnie Mandela
Winnie Mandela is a powerful name in Africa.
She is popular for keep faith with her husband in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
The fight was successful and the war was won. After 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela became the first black president in a democratic South Africa.
She was not a saint though, as she was accused of crimes in the 1980s, and the convicted of theft and fraud in 2003.
Here are five things you should know about the Mother of the Rainbow Nation.
1. She Was A Teacher's Daughter:
Little did you know that Winnie was a child of a school headmaster.
In 1936, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born in the village of eMbongweni, Bizana, Pondoland, in what is now the Eastern Cape Province.
She was the fourth of eight children, which consisted of seven sisters and a brother.
Her parents, Columbus and Gertrude, were both teachers. Columbus was a history teacher and a headmaster, and Gertrude was a domestic science teacher.
Gertrude died when Winnie was nine years old, resulting in the break-up of her family as all the siblings were sent to live with different relatives.
Madikizela-Mandela went on to become the head girl at her high school in Bizana.
After she matriculated, she went to Johannesburg to study social work at the Jan Hofmeyr School, despite restrictions on the education of blacks during the apartheid era.
She earned her degree in social work in 1956, and several years later earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand.
2. Love Made-In-Soweto
Winnie had a love story with her ex-husband, Nelson.
At a time Nelson was struggling with his marriage to Evelyn Mase, he met this beautiful little girl at a bustop in Soweto in 1957.
Mandela charmed the 22-year-old, securing a lunch date the following week.
They got married in 1958 and had two daughters, Zenani (born 1958) and Zindziwa (born 1960), and the rest, they say, is history.
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3. She Vehemently Opposed Apartheid
Due to her political activities, Winnie was regularly detained by the National Party government.
She was tortured, subjected to house arrest, kept under surveillance, held in solitary confinement for over a year and even banished to a remote town.
She emerged as a leading opponent of apartheid during the later years of her husband's imprisonment (August 1963 – February 1990).
For many of those years, she was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area, except for when she was allowed to visit her husband at Robben Island.
Beginning in 1969, she spent eighteen months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison.
It was at this time that Winnie Mandela became well known in the Western world.
3. She Was Accused of Kidnap & Murder
Winnie Mandela’s reputation was damaged in the 80s when she was accused of kidnapping and murder.
She displayed questionable behavior in a speech she gave in Munsieville on 13 April 1986, where she endorsed the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using tyres and petrol) by saying: "With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country."
Her bodyguard, Jerry Musivuzi Richardson, who was coach of the Mandela United Football Club, also claimed that she had ordered kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old James Seipei.
In 1992, she was accused of ordering the murder of Dr. Abu-Baker Asvat, a family friend who had examined Seipei at Mandela's house, after Seipei had been abducted but before he had been killed.
4. Her Love Story Went South
On record, Winnie had just one husband and only two children.
Despite being on her husband's arm when he was released in February 1990, notable for being the first time the couple had been seen in public for nearly thirty years, the Mandelas' 38-year marriage ended when they split up in April 1992.
The split came after it was revealed she had been unfaithful to her husband during his 27 years imprisonment.
Their divorce was finalised in March 1996 before she then adopted the surname "Madikizela-Mandela".
5. She Fought Tirelessly For Human Rights
In 1985, Mrs. Mandela won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award along with fellow activists Allan Boesak and Beyers Naudé for their human rights work in South Africa.
She received a Candace Award for Distinguished Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1988.
In January 2018, the University Council and University Senate of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, approved the award of an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree to Winnie Nomzano Madikizela-Mandela, in recognition of her fight against apartheid in South Africa.
Just as no human is perfect, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is not either, but she remains in the hearts of South Africans who now live in a free world.
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