Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Goodbye Winnie Mandela

A patriot and Pan-Africanist, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dedicated her life to the fight for freedom, justice and dignity for blacks in a white-minority rule apartheid South Africa. As an activist she inspired many around the world, especially women, to take the frontline of the struggle.
Apr 2018

She endured and stood firm by her husband, the legendary icon Nelson Mandela the during his 27 year incarceration in Robin Island. These were testing times by any standards, full of courage but also mired in controversy during the final years of apartheid. She remained defiant and was unremorseful when appearing before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In her later years Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was considerd by most as the mother of the nation who fought for its freedom.

Born on 26 September 1936, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela remained uncompromising till the end. "I am not sorry. I will never be sorry, I would do everything I did again if I had to. Everything." - She died on 2nd April age 81 and is survived by her daughters.

The following is an excerpt from the poem “This Fight Bears My Name” by Rev Lawrence Mduduzi Ndlovu which he dedicated to Winnie Mandela.

“Every shot, whip, curse, and pain
Unites me strongly
With my suffering brethren.
When the heat of unity reaches
The Maximus of toleration,
There, and only there,
Does silence end
Then truest wrath
Bellows with might;
This fight bears my name!”



Open Letter Tribute

by Graça Machel


It is with a heavy heart that I address you today.

As I struggle to accept your transition, I take solace in the fact that you have risen to become one of the brightest stars in the sky where you will remain ever present and radiantly shining. You will continue to serve as a guide to your loving family, your grateful nation, our beloved Africa, and indeed, the world.

The extraordinary life you led is an example of resilient fortitude and inextinguishable passion that is a source of inspiration to us all of how to courageously confront challenges with unwavering strength and determination.

Thank you for your brilliant wisdom, your fierce defiance and your stylish beauty.

Fortunately, stars shine brightest during the darkest of hours. I know you will continue to illuminate our sky, even through the storms and clouds. Your legacy will be an uplifting beacon from which we can continue to draw guidance and strength during difficult times.

You loved our people unconditionally and sacrificed so much for our freedom. It is my prayer that as befitting tributes are paid to you both at home and abroad, all of us will internalise the values you helped to mould and birth into existence.

As a nation, I hope we will stand tall and proud, and as uncompromising as you were in the defence and protection of our rights. As one of our brightest stars, continue to be the lioness that protects your children and your grandchildren. Warm their hearts so that while your transition may shake them, it does not break their spirit.

Your legacy is everlasting. Take a well-deserved rest in peace, my BIG sister.

Love and Respect Always,

Your little sister, Graça.


Other tributes

“A gigantic tree has fallen, a tree that provided shade for the people of South Africa. She has been one of the strongest women in our struggle, who suffered immensely under the apartheid regime, who was imprisoned, who was banished, and who was treated very badly.” "As young people, we grew up in this part of town and I know everywhere else in Africa [people will] say thanks to Mama Winnie Mandela for the role she played in our struggle.
Cyril Ramaphosa President of South Africa


"She is our mother, she was there when things were tough."
Themba Mbhele ANC Supporter