A tribute to Winnie Madikizela Mandela in Houston

Late African Nation Congress anti-apartheid luminary Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had a far-reaching vision to unite Southern Africa, and her commitment to the liberation cause should inspire all Africans, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

Winnie Mandela was always admired and loved by the people she helped to free. "The nation will cry, the nation will reflect deeply, and the nation will say 'how do we move forward?' in terms of who we are, particularly around the issues of the value of one-another, the respect for one-another, and inter-racial harmony and equality". In a video clip, South African comedian Trevor Noah said, "South Africa is a matriarchal society and the women are unsafe". He said Madikizela-Mandela stood the test of time during the apartheid era and never went into exile but took the system head-on.

"She really fought for our rights". We are forever grateful for the role she played in securing our freedom.

There was no such difficulty the first time I met Winnie Mandela in the flesh. "I'll most remember her for her heroics of fighting our battles".

But Winnie, never really credited for her resourcefulness, was able to bring up and educate their children all alone. We sent supplies, sent boots, and flap jackets, and we sent other things that they might need.

Her grandson Bambatha Mandela described Winnie, who died on April 2 after a long illness, as "an extraordinary woman, a mother, a soldier, a fighter". The apartheid government exploited the narrative to turn the Black community against Winnie Mandela.

She acknowledged that she had not yet fully processed the pain she was going through following the loss of the liberation struggle icon.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a complex woman, and the obituaries and tributes issued in South Africa after her death at 81 have struggled to find balance in recalling her life.

Bambatha went to check on her the following morning and she woke and looked at him with her usual contagious smile and said to him: "Where is my Makoti (daughter-in-law)", in reference to the woman he once proposed to marry in his grandmother's house.

Set to defy history and restore African dignity Nomzamo (Xhosa meaning - to be challenged with trials) Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela was born 26 September 1936 on the southern tip of Africa governed by one of the most evil forms of dehumanization where blacks were officially lesser human beings to be educated only to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. In her quintessential "Winnie style", she hid her pain, though I sensed it.

There are those who talk of her failed marriage to Nelson Mandela and her part in it.

Lucy Masuku "It is sad to lose someone who was a fighter like her, not only was she a fighter but she was an inspiration to women all over the world".

Mama Winnie will be laid to rest on Saturday. While she was alive, many critics focused only on her feet of clay. Nor is it implausible to imagine her being genuinely forlorn at the enormity of the task she and the South African resistance faced, one for which no person, male or female, could have been prepared, least of all the daughter of a schoolteacher who hopelessly fell in love with a rising lawyer 16 years her senior. As about two dozen people rose, they were strongly applauded.

Winnie was also an icon and inspiration to women in Africa and beyond, dedicating her life to important social causes at home and overseas, including the wellbeing of the most vulnerable groups.

The birthday celebration was a gesture of unity, and it was there that Mama Winnie committed herself to accompanying Ramaphosa to Marikana to meet with the widows of the killed miners.She was undoubtedly a peace broker.

  • Julie Sanders