ANC Memorial Service of Mamma Winnie Madikiza-Mandela by Baleka Mbete


Our country has been in mourning since that fateful day, on 2  April, when our beloved Mamma Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the cedar of Bizana ceased to breathe. A giant of the ANC, our country, the continent and the world has passed on, just a few weeks before we celebrate the 24th year of a new democratic South Africa. Through her courage and by her example, Mamma Winnie Mandela helped lay the foundation for a country that could begin to live up to its creed.

I thank you, that you have come from far and wide to celebrate the life of our leader and mother, and all her family, as we prepare to lay the mortal remains of Mamma Winnie Mandela to rest. We say to her family, that your loss, is our loss. We will never be able to repay you for so selflessly giving your mother to us. Even in death, your death is not private, as she was truly the mother of the nation.

Mamma Winnie life gave new life to the millions who are proud to call themselves South African, African, and more importantly women. Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s life was a lesson in perseverance and determination.

Her legacy will live on…..

Even as she passed beyond the vision of the naked eye, Winnie Mandela will continue to do what she did while she lived- she will continue to live on. She will continue, to breathe into all of us, the liberating spirit of freedom, reminding us that we are not destined to beg and bow at the feet of our oppressors in utter humility. She will continue to whisper to us, that the land must be rightfully returned to our people! While she lived, Mamma Winnie Mandela carried in her entire being, on her shoulders, her mind and her soul, the burdens of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised, admitting, that she was “forever haunted by the cries and despair of women and children”.

Her Spirit could never be broken…

While she lived, Winnie Mandela, was a proud leader, who refused ever to beg, or to accept defeat. She remained true to herself-an indestructible force of nature – the most inhumane brutality, attempts on her life, defamation campaigns to destroy her, could not destruct her. That is the Winnie we knew, we love ,and who was the shield behind which we stood. Whom, in the African National Congress will be our shield…?? 

She was the voice of the voiceless….

Though she has passed, her voice will continue to speak for the ordinary people. Her voice will continue to speak of human poverty, to tell those who have nothing, that in time, their lives will be characterised by much, much more than a creeping accumulation of small and periodic blessings and handouts. She will continue to talk to those who occupy the tiny spaces that provide the material circumstances for decent human existence, so prevalent across our country, about the fate of those who live in poverty that everywhere surround the islands of prosperity.

Let us heed her clarion call and her words in the midst of her own despair and pain: “I shall never lose hope, and my people shall never lose hope, in fact, we expect that the work should go on….”

As we honour the life of our beloved Mamma Winnie, my plea is that we should not limit our commemorations to lofty eulogies. Instead, let us commit ourselves to carrying on her fight for equality, and ensure that her passion continue to inspire us. Her life, and her brave actions, reminds each and every one of us of our personal responsibilities to stand up for what is right- that we as seemingly ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

As we say farewell to this colossus, icon, our leader, comrade, mother, friend, let us ensure that her name becomes a living testimony. Death will not dim her flame; death will not dim her name. Death has not sting. Her name will forever be etched in our hearts, and in our history. While we will miss her cherished spirit, let’s use this opportunity, to work to ensure that her legacy lives on in the hearts of the nation.

Rest in Peace. Winnie Madikizela Mandela, you will never be forgotten.

Posted in Viewpoints.

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