You fought a good fight Winnie!


NOMZAMO WINIFRED ZANYIWE MADIKIZELA, commonly known as Winnie Mandela, is no more.
And I cannot help but think that the statue of Louis Botha, South Africa’s first colonial prime minister, towers over the entrance of the country’s Parliament and nearby, about 200m away, is a far less imposing bust of Nelson Mandela.
One of the most fascinating things about South Africa is the country’s statues; there are many of them, recording the country’s history, the history of those who became displaced, oppressed and exploited, the indigenes, the rightful owners of the land.
Few of the statues, if any, are of women.
Maybe there were no heroines among the Boer and British women, it was just the Krugers, Rhodes and Bothas.
But that is not so with the indigenes; heroes and heroines abound.
And Winnie, who is fallen, is a heroine of the highest order.
She was no ordinary woman.
Her credentials are neither borrowed nor vested on her by virtue of being a spouse of one of the founding fathers of independent SA.
She is a heroine, a warrior in her own right.
She fought the brutal apartheid system in the manner of a warrior who knew and fully appreciated that the destiny of her nation had to be shaped by fighting back, by actively resisting oppression.
She did not mourn and whimper in the corner.
Harassed and brutalised, she refused to play the helpless victim.
Incarcerated and tortured, she was not broken.
No amount of brutality could deter her.
She played all her roles of mother, wife, freedom fighter without complaint.
Her mistakes, real or perceived, cannot dwarf the patriot in her.
She was not a burden or a hindrance but a vital cog of the struggle.
Winnie deserves a statue — a gigantic one.
Hers is an important story, which must live on, not just for the benefit of her country but the whole continent.
She is no mere mortal.
She was a special human being, a force whose presence charmed and transformed lives.
She is a story that will not be buried but lives on and continues to inspire us.
We hope that a physically imposing statue defiantly stabbing the sky way, above apartheid architects will be erected in her honour.
Winnie is an icon who will occupy our cultural and historical space.
She must inspire South Africa to continue on the path for full emancipation of the indigenes.
Black South Africans are still marginalised.
The question of land is yet to be resolved.
While political independence was achieved, the indigenes still have grievances and issues that need to be addressed.
For instance, our black neighbours continue to express desire for economic independence.
To achieve their aspirations, our brothers and sisters have to look to characters like Winnie.
Her courage, wisdom and fortitude must fuel a country yet to realise the full benefits of independence.
Winnie is an important symbol of our past achievements.
She is evidence that no challenge or problem is insurmountable.
She is proof that no machinery, no matter how gigantic, can defeat a determined people.
Winnie leaves a permanent imprint on the southern African historical and political landscape.
The history of the region cannot leave out the story of this all important woman.
Fare thee well Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela!
You fought a good fight!


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