I feel deeply humbled by the honour bestowed upon me, as I am conferred with the O.R. Tambo Lifetime Achievement Award this evening. 

I must say programme director, when I received the letter from DIRCO informing me of my selection as the recipient of this prestigious award, I felt deeply deeply humbled,  more so, when I reflected on the previous four Icons who received this award before me. 

They are Mme Ruth Mompati, Ambassador Billie Modise, the late Johnny Makatini and Mam’ Winnie Mandela. As you know, these are distinguished struggle luminaries, whose guiding principles were loyalty, integrity and service to our people. 

I am happy to report to this auspicious event, that when I visited Mam’ Winnie Mandela in hospital, where she was recovering. She was in her element as we reminisced, the by-gone struggle days. She was in high spirits and was speaking passionately, I could feel her spirit touching me and both our emotions knew no bounds.

I have had a close relationship with each of these luminaries and I can assure you that from our shared experiences, that their sole objective, was for the equal advancement of all the people of South Africa.

Our awareness from very early on was that for all people of the country, continent and world to live free and fulfilled lives, we had to dedicate our own lives to the noble work of advocating for freedom, justice and equality.

As I stand here this evening, I do so fully aware of the enormous work that still needs to be carried out to eliminate the inequalities of our times. I am also concerned that some of our successes have been reversed in certain areas of our development. I am deeply concerned about the ongoing violence and abuse against women and children.

Addressing these challenged calls for working together with a robust, fully engaged, younger generation of leadership. We will continue to support, direct, guide and advise this leadership, to the best of our ability, strength and health in order to chart our way forward as a nation. 

Today I accept this most Prestigious Award, in honour of the women and men who served and continue to serve our country, who have fought in the name of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, to make not only South Africa, but the continent and the world, a better place. 

I accept this award particularly on behalf of some of the Unsung Heroines. I would like to mention a few: 

Late Comrade’s  Yetta Barrenblat, Ellen Maseko, Joyce Moodly-Mohammed, Blanche Le Guma, Hettie September, Mam Florence Maphosho, Lily Diedericks, Kate Moolala, plus the twenty-two (22) trained nurses and mid-wives, from all parts of South Africa, who left  the country, clandestinely  to serve in the Tanzanian hospitals. This is when the esteemed, founding father of Tanzania, the late President Julius Nyerere, appealed to our country’s great son, Oliver Reginald Tambo, for assistance to manage, their hospitals, clinics, and to upgrade their skills and train the Tanzanian staff, following the withdrawal of the British Colonialists from Tanzania. 

As we bask in the glory of our liberation and bathe in the goodness and warmth of our democracy, we are this evening reminded of the sacrifices made by our people to ensure the democratic changes set out in the Freedom Charter, are realised.

Coming back to the award, on reading the letter from DIRCO, the words GLOBAL CHAMPION OF HUMAN RIGHTS and UBUNTU stood out for me.

These words took me back to the early years of the struggle and life in exile. During this period our very existence and safety, was in the hands of friendly countries on our continent and abroad. Without this show of solidarity, our struggle for liberation would not have succeeded and that is why even today, we as a country believe in international solidarity. 

The principle that OR Tambo and the African National Congress espoused in exile comes directly from the Freedom Charter which OR shared in his United Nations address in 1963, following which he added:

“That statement, which declares South Africa to belong to all who live in it, is a concession on the part of the African people, but it is a demonstration of the willingness of the African people to live in South Africa with everybody who wants to live there on the basis of absolute equality – no racism, no racial discrimination, no superior race, no inferior race. On that basis South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”

This characterised his work in exile and laid the foundation of a democratic South Africa’s foreign policy.

Our Madiba, who we are honouring this year, also strongly believed in international solidarity. In his address at the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People in Pretoria in 1997, he stated:

“It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice”. 

In highlighting this call from both our former presidents, I urge all of us, especially our young people, to never turn your back on any nation or people who are persecuted. Or who are ostracized for simply wanting to achieve freedom and respect for their human rights; doing that would be to deny the core values of our nationhood.

Ubuntu. As Africans we all know what this truly means, not the loose way that this word is often used. Ubuntu, is based on the ancient African philosophy that promotes and celebrates the success of the group, above that of an individual. And acknowledges our one-ness with each other.

Personally, these two phrases have guided my life and that of my family. 

After being forced into exile, like many compatriots we lived and waged the struggle in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and in Italy, and after 1994 in Amman, were my late husband, Henry “Benny Nato” De Bruyn, was appointed Ambassador to the The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Our children lived in other countries too, where they were allegeable to study. In all these countries, they received nothing but genuine welcome and generosity

In the spirit of Ubuntu, my husband and I, as well as other comrades became parents to many young people who fled South Africa alone especially after the 1976 uprisings. We guided, directed and advised them. Our home became a home to many who wanted to experience a homely atmosphere, and living in this communal way really enriched our lives and those of our children.

In conclusion Programme Director, I have often been asked to share my skills and experiences which began before the Women’s March, continued into exile and then back to into South Africa with the unbanning of the ANC and our democratic elections. 

I would like you to know that my children have established and registered the Sophie and Henry De Bruyn Foundation, which will soon be publicly launched. Programme Director one of its focus areas will be to support women and children in vulnerable communities nationally. This work around support to women and children is my personal pursuit and ambition.

The future I envision for our country, is one in which all of us South Africans, and Africans across the continent and the globe,  unite behind a common interest to uplift our people and to bring peace and prosperity to all of our peoples. 

Once again my deepest thanks to the Ministry for hosting this auspicious event and for honouring me in this special way. I also want to thank the panel for the choice they made, that the OR Tambo Lifetime Achievement Award, be conferred upon me in this centenary year that we honour our Legends, Madiba and our Grand Lady Mam Albertina Sisulu.

My gratitude also goes out to my family, my late husband and to my Son Angelo and my daughters Danielle and Sonja who have supported me all of my life, in all my undertakings. I feel so blessed to be a South African and I appreciate and love all of you who make this country so great! 

Thank you very much and God Bless you!


Today, we are gathered here, to accompany to its final resting place, the mortal remains of one of the outstanding heroic sons of our national liberation movement, Cde Wiseman Sontana Ntombela . We are celebrating a remarkable life of a distinguished true soldier of our national democratic revolution.

We are accompanying to its final resting place, the mortal remains of a warrior, a revolutionary, a musician, and the most disciplined and committed volunteer of our struggle for the liberation of the people of our country. Forever in our hearts and minds, we shall cherish the memories of the heroism and exemplary leadership of this fallen combatant of our glorious army.

On behalf of the leadership of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, we convey our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and relatives. We convey our condolences to the people of IIzingolweni, to the traditional leaders, traditional healers, business and church communities, to the leadership and membership of the ANC and its Alliance partners, the people of the kingdom of Kwazulu Natal and the whole of the people of our country.

Though human thought and imaginations cannot apprehend his noble contribution to the cause of our struggle for the dignity and freedom of our people, he belonged to the category of the few, but the rare spices, within the ranks of our revolutionary movement. He embodies a life of a calm, self reliant and undaunted revolutionary, whose narrative, remains a true history, of the struggle of our people against colonial oppression and exploitation.

This selfless servant of the masses of our people, went into exile where he received military training in Angola and the former Soviet Union. He rose through the ranks of UMKHONTO we Ziswe, where he carried with distinction, some of the most difficult tasks of our movement.

Some of the episodes of his magnificent contribution and extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism, shall compose the chapters of the history books, which shall be a living testimony, of the true history of the struggles of our people. He was indeed like an eagle that dares to places where some will never see.

His was a character of a special mould, from the melting pots of the strategy and tactics of our revolutionary warfare. During one of his spectacular missions in the underground, he was involved in a shootout with the security police, in an operation which saw two police officers loosing their dear lifes.

As a result of this fatal encounter with the security forces, he was arrested and taken to Kwamashu police station, where he later made a daring escape. He understood well that the skirmish warranted a death sentence and therefore had to employ all avenues, to escape from the prison cells.

He painstakingly stole from the belt of the policeman guarding him, a key of the door of the prison cell he was supposed to be incarcerated in. The police officer could not detect that the key of the prison cell was not more in his possession.

At the middle of the night, when the police officer who was guarding his prison cell fell asleep, he immediately used that moment to confiscate his R1 automatic rifle. It was indeed a life and death moment in the eyes of this beautiful soldier of our revolution.

Aware that the security branch will be coming to interrogate him later in the night, he awaited for them and held the two interrogators, who he together held hostage with the other police officer guarding him. He took from them the keys of the main gate through which he made his daring escape.

There was a massive police hunt throughout the township of Kwamashu and the surrounding vicinity. He managed to stay in a safe house for three weeks in the township, from where he skipped through the border, into the neighboring Swaziland.

Indeed, his was a heroic contribution of the most disciplined soldier, of the glorious army of our national liberation movement. A heroic contribution of one of the most selfless and loyal servant of the struggle of our people.

The occasion of the farewell of the mortal remains of this great revolutionary of our times, is taking place during one of the most important days in the calendar of our struggle. An important day, of the first sun rise, of a South Africa, without the shadow of the mother of our nation, Cde Wennie Madikezela Mandela.

This will forever be the most memorable day, and a day of great significance to narrate the beautiful stories, about the contribution of these great heroes and heroines of our glorious movement, during the difficult path of our struggle for the liberation of our people. We are indeed grateful of her generosity to champion for the genuine struggle of our people.

We also send our warm words of gratitude and condolences, to the families of both Cdes George Nene and Zola Skwayiya, two of the most devoted leaders of our movement, who passed on during the past few days. Our movement, our revolutionary alliance and the people of our country, bow their respects, in memory of these gallant fighters, during this difficult moment of grief. May their soul rest in peace.

We are accompanying the mortal remains of Cde Wiseman, to its final resting place, few days after the people of the world, the continent and our country, celebrated the anniversary of the brutal murder of the heroic young lion of our revolution, Cde Solomon Mahlangu. Marching with pride into the gallows of the apartheid state, defeating the adversity of death before his eyes, he said the following profound words” Mama, Mama, tell my people that I love them very much, tell them that my blood will nourish a tree which will bear the fruits of liberation”.

We accompany the mortal remains of Cde Sontana, few days after the anniversary celebration of the murder of the late General Secretary of the SACP and the Chief of staff of our glorious army UMKHONTO we Ziswe, Chris Hani. We support the cal by his family and the South African Communist Party, that his assassins, should remain in jail until they confess the truth about the circumstances, which led to the assassination, of this great revolutionary of our movement.

We accompany the mortal remains of Cde Ntombela, to its final resting place, on the occasion of a memorable month of the passing on of our late President of the ANC, Cde Oliver Reginald Tambo. We salute the living memories of this great leader of our people and the longest serving President of our liberation movement.

We remember all the unsung heroes and heroines of our struggle, all of those who volunteered and perish in the trenches of our struggle, for the liberation of the overwhelming majority of the people, from Apartheid colonial domination and exploitation. We shall forever treasure their immense contribution to our noble struggle for the emancipation of humanity.

The people of our country, the continent and the world, have all the reasons to celebrate the magnificent lifes of these great monuments of our national liberation movement. We have all the reasons to celebrate the selfless acts of heroism, which saw the defeat of one of the most horrendous state in the history of humanity.

Our people have all the reasons to celebrate the determination of these gigantic leaders of our movement, to usher a new dawn of hope, of a new South Africa, which belongs to all who live in it. A non racial, non sexist, democratic, and prosperous South Africa, of a diverse nation, embraced by the common cause for the freedom and dignity of our people.

Cde Wiseman Ntombela, has always understood that the defeat of the apartheid regime, was not the end but the beginning of protracted struggles for the total liberation of our people, from the bondage of political oppression and economic exploitation. His high level political consciousness, prepared him to understand that power relations in society, is about political and economic emancipation.
He was amongst profound revolutionaries within the ranks of our movement, inspired by the theoretical preposition that political freedom without economic freedom is meaningless. He was indeed a true ambassador of the struggles of the second phase of our transition, for radical socio economic transformation.
Our historic 54th national elective conference, which took place in December 2017 at Nazareth, took decisive resolutions, declaring the present epoch of our democracy, as a second phase of our transition for radical socio economic transformation. The conference mandated the newly elected National Executive Committee, to expropriate land without compensation, and to provide free education to all the students from the working class families and the poor.
The conference took bold decisions to nationalise the Reserve bank, and to accelerate the transformation of the bulk of the South African economic landscape. We dare not to fail this historic mandate of the membership of the ANC and the people of our country, and we dare not fail them achieve the golden opportunity, of these important strategic objectives, of our national democratic revolution.
Contrary to the wishes of our adversaries, of those who are opposed to the noble cause of the struggle of our people, those who want to reduce the true meaning of our democracy, to be only for the singing of our national anthem, and the raising of our national flag, more than ever before, we are committed, to ensure that the majority of our people, are part of the ownership of the economy, in the land of their birth
The achievement of the strategic objectives of our national democratic revolution, is the heartbeat of our movement. Our common determination is to liberate our people from the shackles of poverty, disease and underdevelopment.
One of the overarching resolutions of our elective national conference, was the resolve to agitate for the unity and renewal of our national liberation movement. This is important because unity remains to be a precondition for the success of our national democratic revolution.
Without the unity and cohesion of our revolutionary movement in general and the revolutionary alliance in particular, it will be difficult a task, to consolidate the gains of our democratic breakthrough. Without unity of our membership and the people of our country, it will not be an easy task, to steer the impetus of our immediate objectives, for radical economic transformation.
There is a growing momentum from within and outside our own ranks, to undermine our collective effort for the unity and renewal of our movement. Our detractors are determined to bury our glorious national liberation movement into the dustbins of our history books.
In memory of this revolutionary, whose mortal remains are lying in state before us, we are making a call to all members of the ANC and the people of our country, to work together, and ensure that they defend this movement, which itself, represent the history of the struggle for national liberation. In memory of this gallant fighter, less work hard to isolate agent provocateurs, those whose mission, is to ensure that our movement does not see the light of the day.
But what is important is our understanding of this fundamental principle of unity and renewal. Unity and renewal of our movement is about making those who are from within happy, before you can bring others. Unity and renewal of our movement is about collective leadership and the desire to serve in the best interest of the wishes and aspirations of our people.
We must be worrisome of the growing phenomenon, of some from the ranks of our movement, of preaching unity and at the same time, fueling tendencies of disunity. We cannot achieve the noble objectives of unity and renewal, by forsaking fundamental principles of our movement.
Therefore it is in the best interest of the future of the people of our country, that we walk the talk of unity, not only to talk about it, but to walk and to walk about it. This is the only way to treasure this great movement of our people.
One of our renowned philosophers, Frederick Engels, says that one must not allow oneself to be misled by the cry of unity. Those who have this word on their lips, are the ones who sow the most dissension. The biggest brawlers and rogues at times shout the loudest for unity.


The unity of our movement and our people is about advancing the interests of the majority of our people and not our wishful thinking. Our unity and renewal must reflect the concrete realities of our struggle and not our wishful thinking.

The unity and renewal of our movement and our people is about radical socio economic transformation. It is about tilting the balance of forces in favor of the wishes and aspirations of the people of our country.

We will forever treasure the contribution of this gallant fighter of our revolution. His determination to lay down his own life for the freedom of our people goes beyond all human measure.

His grave shall become a monument decorated with flowers of bravery and remarkable medals of a true soldier. From now on through eternity, the thrones of the noble realms, will give thanks to his glorious acts of selflessness.
As the eyes of the coming generations turn back to pay its tribute to this great revolutionary, they shall enjoy the glory of a prosperous nation, whose its freedom and dignity is his epitaph. A nation whose its prosperity, peace and tranquility, shall be his everlasting memorial.

Hamba Kahle a true soldier of UMKHONTO we Ziswe, we shall take your spear and revolutionary courage, to accelerate our struggle for radical economic transformation.
Hamba Kahle Mkhonto.


Mam’Winnie – A luta continua, vitória é certa!

At a time when the odds in the fight against apartheid seemed insurmountable, it was struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who strengthened the resolve of many ordinary South Africans.

Through her courageous defiance, she galvanised communities burdened under the weight of oppression, in particular the young people, to remain resolute in the struggle for freedom. 

Speaking at a rally in Soweto at the height of repression in the mid-1980s and while serving a banning order by the Apartheid state, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela inspired hope to the thousands of disenfranchised black South Africans in attendance. 

She declared: “We are going to dismantle apartheid. We are not prepared for any so called reforms to Apartheid… Apartheid is a criminal act against mankind. We are no longer prepared to tolerate that criminal act by a minority.” 

It was this bold resistance to the apartheid regime and on the ground activism to free the country from racial oppression that kept the flame of freedom burning when many of our liberation leaders, including former President Nelson Mandela were imprisoned.

She understood and experienced the indignity and denigration that millions of black South Africans faced in their daily existence. She was affectionately referred to as the “Mother of the Nation” as she reached out and comforted those brutalised by the system. Our nation owes Mam’Winnie a great debt of gratitude for the role she played in our liberation and for the many sacrifices she made so that we can have the valuable freedoms we all enjoy today. 

Mam’Winnie carved her own image as a leader in the fight against apartheid and emerged to take the struggle forward during our darkest hours. The prevailing conditions and the atrocities perpetuated at the time, without a doubt, severely traumatised her and all our people. 

As her actions in the struggle intensified she drew intense scrutiny and torment from the apartheid security branch, which landed her in jail on numerous occasions. She was subjected to frequent early morning raids at her home in Soweto, often when her children were home for the school holidays.

In 1969, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela became one of the first detainees under Section 6, of the notorious, Terrorism Act of 1967. She was imprisoned for 18 months in solitary confinement at the Pretoria Central Prison, before being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.

Her valiant role in fighting the apartheid security apparatus came at an immense personal sacrifice and cost to her and her family. Even though she was married and had a family, she never really knew what it was like to have a nuclear family of her own, having been separated from her “dear Nelson”, just months after their marriage. Even though she had her own children, she chose the nation when it mattered the most.  When we call out ‘mother of nation’ let us not forget the great burden, sacrifice and commitment this required of her in the fight to liberate us.

Despite the constant detention, banning and even banishment to the Afrikaner stronghold town of Brandfort she refused to bow to pressure of the regime. She never relented in her fight and demonstrated her steely resolve when she declared: “There is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”

We shared Mam’Winnie with the world as her resilience and courage inspired many not only in South Africa and the continent but across the world. She became an inspiration to millions who were fighting for the freedom and dignity of their people.

She particularly inspired more women to move to the frontlines of struggles for justice and freedom across the world; and will forever be lauded and acknowledged across the globe for her contribution to the struggles of the oppressed. 

It was therefore fitting that African Union should honour her with the lifetime achievement award, in 2017. This was an outcome to which the Pan African Women’s Organisation is immensely proud to have made a contribution. Here at home, she was bestowed the Order of Luthuli in Silver, in 2016, for her role in the struggle against apartheid.

The sacrifices made by Mam’Winnie and countless others birthed a non-racial and non-sexist society built on the values of human rights, dignity and democracy. In honour of her memory it is now our shared responsibility to continue to shape a national identity that is built on mutual respect, tolerance and acceptance. 

Let us reach out to those in need as she would have done and take them along on our journey as we build a new legacy based on the principles of equality, democracy and human rights that Mam’Winnie fought so hard for.

Ms Pinky Kekana is ta member of the ANC National Executive Committee and the Secretary General of the Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO).


“We learned to love you from the historical heights where the sun of your bravery laid siege to death… Your glorious efforts throughout the history of our liberation struggle resound like a rifle shot awakening [South Africa]”. We remembered these lyrics of tribute to Comandante Che Guevara by Cuban composer Carlos Puebla on Hasta Siempre when tributes continued to pour in the wake of MamaWinnie Madikizela-Mandela’s death.

For she is our mother. At the time the liberation movement was banned and the might of the repressive regime was gathering pace, like a mother amongst many, she rose. Not defined by another or spousal duties, she was the lodestar that provided political guidance and shelter to the youth of 1976. When the young lions took orders to make South Africa ungovernable in the 1980s, she was the channel that directed the flow of their unstoppable tide. She emphasized the value of education and centrality of communal existence and the bonds that were formed during the years of struggle under her tutelage are as strong as bonds of blood.

At one point, the policies to restrict Africans to the rural areas became covert and not enough residential areas where developed in the urban areas. Our people were forced by circumstances to live in the squatter camps without the most basic of services, she did not stay away but was there with them. She instilled in them, the spirit of resilience and perseverance. Today the people of Orange Farm, Nomzamo, Mshenguville, Kliptown amongst others have basic services, although much still needs to be done in many other informal settlements. Her unequivocal message to her party, the ANC remained that the pace of development is not fast enough for our people and much must be done faster. As she chastised the ANC for the slow pace of service delivery, in particular in the rural areas and black townships, she remained resolute that the ANC remains the only party that can deliver services for the poor. She was not only a charismatic leader but a servant leader to our people. In her, they saw themselves.

For the better part of the 1990s, the women’s movement, like the women’s movement of the 1950s, was not led from the boardrooms but the movement was at the coalface of the struggle for women emancipation. Together with her Women’s League collective, they successfully led the fight for equal representation of women and men across the sectors of society, including in leadership and governance positions. It is a pity that the women’s movement of today seems to be failing her and the women of the 1956 march, in that the quantitative representation of women has not translated into qualitative transformation of material conditions confronting majority of women and children. As the country pays glorious tribute to her, we must challenge ourselves to pick-up the spear and continue the struggle for gender emancipation, for her soul shall not rest if:

  • Every 8 hours a woman still dies in the hands of a partner or ex-partner in South Africa
  • One in five women experience violence by their partner
  • Only 1 in 4 rapes are reported and estimations remain that over 40% of women will experience rape in their lifetime. 

For us who remain within the liberation movement, we must commit ourselves to ensure that the slogan for non-sexism is not only chanted in the ANC and the broader movement but it is a lived reality of its many female members. She refused to be a victim of patriarchy but she experienced the yoke of patriarchy in our movement. In her memory and lasting honour, the movement must make a collective vow to ensure that her legacy and the lived experiences of female members do not continue to be tainted by the demon of patriarchy.

She was an embodiment of the mantra that leadership is not an act of the position one holds but the contribution one makes. She did not need a position of power to lead, either in government or the ANC. Yet she made more meaningful contribution and impact than most elected in positions of authority. She led because she was closer to the people and the people were closer to her.

As a people, we did not thank her enough for the enormous contributions and personal sacrifices she made. We did not tell her story as loudly as we should have proclaimed. Despite all we knew, we allowed the rhetoric from her detractors to resonate. Even when the countless opportunities presented, we did not express our appreciation for her whilst she was still of the land of the living.

As we continue to pay tribute to the Mother of our Nation from all corners of our country, including us in the north-most part of our Republic, Limpopo, we are again reminded of the eulogy of El Comandante Fidel Castro in tribute to his best friend and comrade, Che Guevara, “as we are gathered here, you and I, to try to express these sentiments in some ways with regard to one who was one of the most familiar, one of the most admired, one of the most beloved, and without any doubt, the most extraordinary of our comrades of the revolution, to express these sentiments to her…[who] has been writing a glorious page of history”, and for history to judge us kindly and let her soul rest in peace, her spirit must not die but Nomzamo Winne Madikizela-Mandela must multiply!     

*Cde Khumbudzo Ntshavheni is a member of the PEC of the ANC in Limpopo and Heads the Communications Sub-Committee


Tribute to the life and time of Cde Thembisile Chris Hani

The history of South African struggle for liberation of blacks in general but Africans in particular is characterised by many gloomy events. These events happened as a result of reaction towards colonialism and barbaric apartheid system.

Throughout the world, the struggle has been led by great women and men. These individual leaders some had an opportunity to look away and continue with their lives as if nothing was happening, because some were professionals that could have used their skills for their individual social mobility.

This was not the case for many of our liberation movement leaders. South Africa also possessed such leaders, whose consciousness was shaped by social and political conditions they found themselves in as black people.

Cde Martin Thembisile “Chris” Hani was one of those leaders who was shaped by material conditions of black communities. The perpetuation of inequality and inferior education imposed by the apartheid regime shaped and drove Chris Hani in a political struggle.

During his University years he took time to learn Marxist ideology. This was to be used to learn and analyse the South African conditions from social science point of view. His comprehension of the brutality of capitalism and apartheid channelled him to be a member of ANC YL in 1957. Chris Hani grew to hate tyranny and institutionalised oppression.

Through his involvement in student protests, he interacted with leadership of South African Congress of Trade Unions currently COSATU. This  exposed him to the struggles of workers.

 Cde Hani was an embodiment of the tripartite alliance which brings together ANC, SACP and COSATU for a common purpose of achieving strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.

We therefore owe it to Cde Chris Hani to ensure that we build a strong alliance which is resilient against neo-colonialism tendencies. These new tendencies include sowing divisions within the movement, the use of media and Non-Governmental Organisations to reverse the gains of the revolution. We therefore have the responsibility to ensure that the current contradictions in the alliance are resolved with the objective of ensuring that the progressive forces consolidate their hegemony in the society.

In dealing with challenges facing the alliance, the movement should do so without degenerating into personality cults. It is expected that living organisations such as ours, time and again will have different tactical postures in dealing with current societal challenges especially of eradicating inequality, poverty and patriarchy.      

The influence of leaders such as JB Marks, Moses Kotoane, Bram Fischer and Ray Simons propelled Chris Hani to join SACP in 1961 and Umkhondo we Sizwe (MK) in 1962. Comrade Chris Hani could not escape prison like many other liberation struggle leaders. The apartheid system used prison to deter activists from their political work using various laws which includes Suppression of Communism Act and Terrorism Act.

These acts by the apartheid system did not deter Cde Hani from pursuing the agenda for the liberation of Africans. It is because of his perseverance and love for his people that he carried on despite imprisonment, harassment and eventually murder. Cde Chris Hani had love for his people and was approachable to even the lowest ranking MK member.

Comrade Chris Hani received military training and later became involved in battles during the Wankie Campaign as part of the Luthuli Detachment. Part of the progressive work done by Cde Hani was to assist ANC to establish underground units and communication systems.

He later went to Lesotho for a period of seven years were he continued to establish underground units of the Mk. Comrade Chris Hani returned to South Africa subsequently working in Lesotho and later Lusaka after the unbanning of the ANC and SACP on 2 February 1990 and worked with Cde Joe Slovo, the then General-Secretary of SACP.

After illness of Cde Joe Slovo in 1991, Cde Hani took over as the General-Secretary of the SACP.

Cde Chris was assassinated on the 10th of April 1993 by the right-wing extremist Januzs Walus, assisted by Clive Derby-Lewis. This period brought political volatility in the country and forced those that were bickering about multi-party negotiating forum to set a date for negotiations which brought about democracy we have today.

Comrade Hani did not live to realise the fruits of freedom he fought for almost his entire life. It is therefore up to us as a society keep his legacy alive.

The major task confronting the ANC today in honour of Cde Martin Thembisile “Chris” Hani is to ensure that radical socio-economic transformation is achieved which will include expropriation of land without compensation, creation of black industrialist, free education and creation of national democratic society in general.    

In this year of unity, renewal and jobs, ethos demonstrated by leaders such as Mama Winnie Madikezila Mandela and Martin Thembisile Hani need to be implied. All cadres of the movement need to work together purposefully in order to build a strong and responsive ANC which will carry out the plight of the poor.


Lulama Titi-Odili, Acting Regional Secretary of ANC Mangaung region, Free State

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.


The sudden passing of Mama Winnie has resulted in worldwide grief, an outpouring of never told before anecdotes and a daily obsession with re telling and reviewing her history of struggle and life. Winnie Mandela is much more than an ordinary life, she is an extraordinary woman, a woman of substance who made an indellible contribution to our history, our struggle and our freedom.

Mama Winnie came from rural Eastern Cape (Mbongweni, Bizana)a royal daughter seeking a future in Johannesburg. Her progress while at home and in the city of Johannesburg holds out several important lessons for our continuing struggle for gender equity and for our determined intention to ensure girls succeed in education.  Her father, a traditional leader in rural eastern cape ensured his daughter was not a prisoner of her gender by sending her to school just as millions of girls go to school today because she fought for that.  She did not opt for early marriage or youthful intimate relationships with boys.

Her peers report that she was an A class student, and was not afraid to challenge any boy who thought she was at school to waste time. The young Winnie successfully completed her secondary schooling and proceeded to college to study social work and took up employment as the first black medical social worker at Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg.

Her political awareness began while she was young shaped by incidents of racism she observed as a child, the humiliation of black adults she witnessed regularly and the direct observation that things were not right in South Africa and black people lived with indignity and humiliation on a daily basis. Mama Winnie made these observations and is reported as shocked at the ill treatment disrespect and poverty she witnessed. These early experiences shaped her love for justice and her readiness to defend all those who could not defend them selves.

It is important to note that her political education was primarily practical exposure to racism exclusion and poverty. She was born in 1936 a year in which fascism was on the ascendancy in Europe , she grew up in the War years of the Second Great War. Even though apartheid was not yet formal policy racism and colonial attitudes were very present in South Africa. Cde Winnie was educated in a mission school taught by the early graduates of Fort Hare University, all keen to give the best education to young black students. In 1953 this was taken away, Bantu education was introduced by the apartheid government and good mission schools were closed down if they refused to offer Bantu Education.

Winnie moved to Johannesburg completed her studies and saw the full effects of apartheid in the urban setting of joburg. It was in joburg that she met and shared a hostel room with mama Adelaide Tambo. Mama Tambo spoke of her fiancé Oliver Tambo and a bright upcoming lawyer and political leader Nelson Mandela.  However, Mama became politicized long before she met Nelson Mandela. As a social worker she began to do research on Alexander Township due to concerns about infant mortality in that area. She had noted a significant number of infant deaths from mothers in that area. On visiting Soweto and Alexander she was appalled at the poverty squalor and indignity of the living conditions. She took an active interest in changing these conditions. All of you here know how fiercely protective she was how she hated unfairness and oppression.

Winnie Mandela distinguished herself in her partnership with Nelson Mandela. She was very young when they met and fell very much in love. We all know she was fearless in support of her husband and family. There are instances of apartheid police brutality in her life and in some you could see the police were more afraid of her because she was so brave and unafraid.

Nevertheless she suffered terribly as a result of police brutality of which she said:

“What disturbed me so much was that I knew what it is to hate. The imprisonment hardened me …Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens everyday of your life, when that pain becomes a way of life … there is no longer anything I can fear.

She studied social work. Her involvement in the liberation struggle began in the 1950s. Her first detention was in 1958 during the mass arrest of women involved in the anti-pass campaign.

Nelson Mandela and Mam Winnie were married in Johannesburg on 25 May 1958 and were separated for most of their married life, he on Robben Island and she in various other places. During her husband’s 27-year incarceration, she campaigned tirelessly for his release.

She established a massive personal following.

In the year of the Soweto Uprisings in 1976, the government banished her to a small town of Brandfort, about 400 kilometres south-west of Johannesburg, where she spent eight years. During that time she was arrested several times for violating her banishment orders.

Mam Winnie and Nelson Mandela divorced in 1996. She remained respected within the African National Congress and was a member of parliament until her death.

She is one of the few remaining anti-apartheid activists.

In her last interview, given last month and rebroadcast on Easter Monday afternoon by state broadcasters, she spoke of how she had always put the collective good of the ANC before her individual well being.

She worried about unemployment that remains at an historic high across the general population and as high as 2 out 3 among young people. She worried about corruption that has not only undermined public finances but also public confidence in the state.

“I would be extremely naive if I suggested to you that South Africa today is what we dreamt of when we gave up our lives …. We came from a very brutal period of our history, a country that was segregated, [and] to transition from that era to where we are today has been a really painful journey, ” she said in the interview.

Mam Winnie helped to lay the foundation for a democratic South Africa.

We are still building the nation she wanted, but building on the foundation that she helped to lay for us.

Inspired by her, free South Africa had made great progress towards building a truly non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic South Africa.

Together we have built a country that is dedicated to patriotism, nation building and reconciliation.

We have built stable democratic institutions based on our country’s progressive Constitution.

She stood on the shoulders of other women in the struggle, like the women who fired the first salvo of protest against pass laws in Bloemfontein in July 1913.

Like the women in rural communities who fought  for land.

Like the women in urban communities who fought for work, dignity and freedom.

It is through the blood of the people of Sharpeville, Soweto, Langa, kwaMashu, kwa Zakhele, Mdantsane, and many other areas, that we gained our freedom.

The Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955 in Kliptown. There delegates proclaimed that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people’’.

In turn the Freedom Charter inspired the democratic constitution that we have today which in its preamble also declares that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”

It is those ideals which were embedded in a Constitution that entrenches democracy, equality and freedom.

We are a unique people and unique nation.

In 1961 Chief Albert Luthuli said, “It may well be that South Africa’s social system is a monument to racialism and race oppression, but its people are the living testimony to the unconquerable spirit of mankind.’’

He was right; through our struggle we won political freedom for all, black and white.

We have won our struggle for freedom but our struggle for justice and equality is only beginning. It’s is a struggle that mam Winnie taught us how to wage and to win.

She sacrificed her life and her freedom for us.

She will remain in our hearts forever.

By Naledi Pandor

Palesa Motsoene


‘Black women cannot breathe’ – Naledi Chirwa

These were the words uttered by a fierce activist Naledi Chirwa as she paid tribute to Mama Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikezela-Mandela at a memorial service held at the Constitutional Hill by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Thinking about these words made me realise that indeed black women have not been given a chance to breathe, to be free, and to exercise their rights like their male counterparts without a certain cloud hanging over their head. Mama Nomzamo affectionately known as Winnie was not given a chance to breathe, not during the apartheid years and not even in post democratic South Africa. You would expect that a woman who gave up her life, her kids to fight the greatest and cruellest injustices meted out by the apartheid regime would finally get a chance to breathe in a liberated South Africa.

Who is Mama Winnie Madikezela Mandela to me, Palesa Motshoene? She is my hero; she is a role model, a picture of strength, of a unifier, of humility, of fearlessness, of courage, of a leader, of a mother, not just any mother but a mother of the nation. She is a woman who has managed to stand tall despite her vilification by some sections of society. She is a woman who has managed to stand by her actions despite how she has been treated by some sections of society. She is a woman, whom every black woman should look up to for resilience, tenacity and the ability to remain steadfast during times of trials and tribulations.

Mama Winnie was a Queen, a fashionable, stylish Queen, whether she wore a doek, or a wig, with make-up or not, she remained a queen. Her beauty was breathtaking. Mama never judged women on what they wore, on how they looked and what they did. She was a greatest supporter of women and wanted the best for the women of South Africa. She believed they deserved better, more recognition of the work they did. I’m reminded by her heart wrenching interview with Ms. Felicia Mabuza-Suttle several years ago, were she spoke about how struggle female veterans were never honoured or given proper recognition. The likes of Mama Lillian Ngoyi, Mama Florence Mphosho, Mama Helen Joseph, Mama Florence Motamela, Mama Miriam Sotinda and many others. She spoke about how they were never acknowledged with accolades. She was concerned about how these struggle heroines were unknown to the younger generations about how they gave up their lives for the liberation of this country. I share her sentiments, South African women have gone through the most but are the most phenomenal women I have come across. Mama Winnie is that perfect imperfect embodiment of a picture of that South African woman.

She suffered immensely but she never sold out. She was separated from her husband, so early in her marriage after Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison, which left her as a single black woman, raising her children on her own under a brutalized system of government which was against blacks.

“You are imprisoned in this little cell. When you stretch your hands you touch the walls. You are reduced to a nobody, a non-value. It is like killing you alive. You are alive because you breathe. You are deprived of everything – your dignity, your everything.” she wrote in her journal describing her 491 days imprisonment. She was humiliated by the apartheid police who incarcerated her, at some point she mentions that she was interrogated for a straight 7 days and 7 nights until she urinated blood, this incarceration separated her once again from her children but there couldn’t have been a painful punishment like the one of her banishment to Brandfort in the Free State. She spoke of not knowing what it felt like to be in marriage, how it felt to be a mother who took her kids to school, made them lunch and helped with their homework. Yet this is the same woman that some sections of society continued to label, to insult with all sorts of name powered by the disingenuous South African media in the quest to re-write her legacy.

Mama Nomzamo had an opportunity after her banishment to leave the country but she didn’t, she chose to stay in South Africa and despite her banishment to house number 802, in ‘Phatakahle’, she continued to fight for the liberation of the South African people. She opted to stay in Phatakahle and even though had cut a lonely figure she had a lot of time to embark in humanitarian work by initiating feeding schemes for children, she opened up a clinic and crèche for the community of Brandfort. In as much as the apartheid regime wanted to break her, her spirit remained unbreakable.

Now this is what I know of Mama Winnie, this is the legacy of Mama Winnie I know and no one dare tell me otherwise. Listen this is what they don’t want us to know as they go on and attempt to re-write her history, her legacy. Remember we live in a patriarchal society that always has women on the back foot, regardless of how much they continue to prove that they are worthy and deserve the same respect as men. Mama Winnie was an anti-apartheid revolutionary activist; she was a humanitarian, a feminist, a gallant fighter of the liberation of South Africa, even in post-democratic South Africa. She proved time and time again that she was worthy and fought a better fight then many men at the time.

I’m saddened by her passing, it’s been hard to accept her passing as you expect someone like Mama Winnie to live on forever, very strange huh…I relate to her as a young woman who also has to constantly prove that she is worthy in society that constantly celebrates men. I end of this tribute; by making a compassionate plea to the government of South Africa to start making history a compulsory subject, so that every young child will know about South African undistorted history, about all our struggle veterans and what they did for South Africa. I also call upon the government to look into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) sexist policy on hyperandrogenism which is characterised by high testosterone and applies to women who compete in track events between 400 and 1500 metres; this policy could potentially end South Africa’s golden girl Caster Semenya’s career in athletics. I am sure that Mama would have also fought for this; in her honour I pray that we do not forget and that we make sure that her memory FOREVER LIVES ON.

May you rest in Peace Mama, My Queen, my Heroine, Mbokodo, Qhawe lama Qhawe. Women like me will continue with the baton, to be strong, to be courageous, to be unapologetic and always stand up for that which we believe in. Your memory will never be forgotten nor shall it ever be re-written again.

Cde Palesa Motsoene a young woman activist and a member of ANCYL and YCL


A well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt says: ‘well behaved women seldom make history.’ It is a phrase that comes to mind when reflecting on the extraordinary life and extraordinary personality that was the stalwart of our Movement, Comrade Mama Winnie Madikizela- Mandela.

Inasmuch as she, like many activists of her generation, were made by the very circumstances that forged their activism – she stood out above the rest for her commitment to the liberation of the women of this country. With her passing, it has become incumbent upon us to firmly grasp the baton and take forward the race towards a truly non-racist, non-sexist, egalitarian, prosperous and free South Africa.

Much of the eulogizing of Comrade Madikizela-Mandela has focused on her political activism, and her firm and unwavering commitment to the cause of the downtrodden, the poor and the marginalized in society.

As we mourn her we will also never forget that we had an icon who taught us that South Africa could never be free until the women of South Africa were free. She was a tireless advocate for the women’s struggle in our country and on the continent and it can be said without doubt that the women of South Africa would not today enjoy the rights we do were it not for her and countless other activists like her. It is because of their sacrifices that we can today hold our heads up high.

When the ANC was banned in South Africa and the mere mention of the organization’s name could result in imprisonment – Mama Winnie and countless other dedicated activists kept the flames of resistance burning. Whether it was speaking out against apartheid, agitating for the release of female detainees or demonstrating against the pass laws, she stood at the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights in South Africa. All the women of South Africa owe her an immense debt.

She was a woman who faced the harshest of tribulations and had a life that would have broken the spirit of any human being. As we remember her we pore over the historical record as well as her life in her own words. She once wrote: “I no longer have the emotion of fear…there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me, there isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”

Despite all attempts to break her spirit she remained steadfast and refused to cease with her political activism on behalf of this country’s women.

Mama Winnie had a deep and passionate aversion to injustice, and qualified as the first black female social worker in Johannesburg in the late 1950’s. It was through her social work at the then Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto that she became moved by the plight and living conditions of the black majority; and was motivated to use her learning and skills to uplift them.

Many women activists of her generation, and those that came after, will remember how she would always emphasize the need for women to be educated. She gave us confidence, led us by example and encouraged us to learn. For her it was not simply about receiving political education only – but that we needed to go to school and receive a secular education. She would tell us: “It’s not me alone who should be in this position (of having received a formal education) but all of you as well, young and old.” Many of us have fond memories of being in her home gathered in her kitchen as she cooked – when she would tell us that as important as it was to be involved in the struggle and fight for our country, that  we needed to prioritize formal education as well.

When she was elected a member of Parliament in the new South Africa she used her position to advocate for the political, social, and economic rights of women. She would remind us to never forget the reason we were there: to represent our communities; and that we should work tirelessly on their behalf.

Mama Winnie will be remembered for her legendary beauty, and it was she who gave us confidence as women that we could attain great heights as women, telling us “hold your head up high, you are you, and nobody can be you.”

She was an active member of the ANC Women’s League and was elected its President in 1993 a position she held for 10 years. She subsequently served on the National Executive Committee of the ANCWL for a number of years at a time when South Africa introduced some of the world’s most gender-friendly  and progressive policies to advance women’s rights.

We can say therefore that Mama Winnie did not die – she multiplied! Today in South Africa, the representation of women in the governing party the ANC, in Parliament and across government is amongst the highest in the world: exceeding even a number of developed countries whose democracies are far older than ours.

Many of these women have been nurtured, supported and guided by Mama Winnie: the honour of being known as Mother of the Nation is befitting and well-deserved.

It is testament to her influence that today it is young women, many of whom were born after our liberation, who are taking forward the gender struggle in civics, political, student and other formations. It is these young activists of whom Mama Winnie would be especially proud.

These brave daughters of Africa have inherited the mantle of struggle: they have defined their own mission and like Mama Winnie, have the absolute courage of their convictions. It was this courage, that saw her boldly confront the might of the apartheid regime – even physically, that made her a role model for so many of her generation and those who have come afterwards.

Her life found resonance amongst many of us who have ever had to endure victimization, discrimination and persecution on account of being black women.

Mama Winnie remained an active member of the movement. She lived and ended her life as a cadre of the ANC. At the same time, and despite her immense stature as an icon – she did so with humility and in acknowledgement of the many challenges still facing the movement and the country.

Mama Winnie did not belong to the ANC alone – she belonged to us all, and to all those around the world who identified with what she stood for, and who claimed her as their own. More specifically, she belonged to all the women of this country. We are comforted by the knowledge that the name of this great daughter of the soil will be forever illuminated in history and generations of women from today will remember her name.

It was the British author Julie Burchill who wrote: “sometimes tears are an inappropriate response to death. When a life has been lived completely honestly, completely successfully, or just completely, the correct response to death’s perfect punctuation mark – is a smile. “

Rest in Peace Mama.

Edna Molewa


The news of the passing of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela found me unprepared and unwilling to accept the reality of such a grave tragedy for our people and our country.For many of us who have worked closely with her and got to know and learn from her, the news has been devastating and it had not been possible to provide an immediate reaction.

This is because in Mama Winnie, we have all lost a mother who shared everything with us.

Through her dedication to the struggle of our people, she had become the true embodiment of selflessness.It is this spirit of selflessness that has inspired many to emulate her, to know that nothing less than total submission to the cause of our people will bring about our freedom, even if this may come at a great personal cost, like it did with her.

In giving everything, Mama Winnie also lost everything.

She didn’t just campaign for the plight of the women, she lived this reality herself, every day, side by side with them. Whether it be in Soweto, prison and police stations, Brandfort and in the many informal settlements, Mama was a friend of the poor, the downtrodden and the true voice for the plight of oppressed women.

Trained as a social worker, she was a pioneer in community development. This work inspired us and gave us hope, even those of us who had been campaigning for the plight of our women while in exile.

Comrade Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula