Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was more than a mother of a nation, her impact was felt across Africa

By Zikhona Masala

It was a funeral service that will forever be on the minds and hearts of those that attended and watched. Thousands of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s children painted Orlando Stadium green, yellow and red on Saturday. Politicians, ordinary people, supermodels and heads of state from all over the world came to give testimony to this great leader whose impact was felt across the world. They came to bid farewell to the struggle icon popularly known as the Mother of The Nation, a towering and courageous figure who fought against oppression in South Africa and continued to be an advocate for the downtrodden until her last breath on the 2nd of April 2018. The mood was a highly celebratory one, leaving little room for a sombre atmosphere as renowned South African musicians graced the stage paying tribute and upholding the memory of Mama Winnie. Sounds of struggle songs also filled the stadium accompanied by stomping of feet creating a powerful aura.

Winnie Mandela’s funeral service. Photo by Zikhona Masala

“Even as our hearts were heavy, that we had lost the woman the world knew as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela but who I simply call mum, we have been shielded from our pain by your love”, said Zenani Mandela.

The tone intensified as Mandela spoke directly to those that had vilified her mother, saying “the pain you inflicted on her, lives on in us. Praising her now that she has gone shows what hypocrites you are”.

She also addressed the different standards of morality that exist in South Africa and the world when it comes to men and women. “My mother is one of the many women who rose against patriarchy, prejudice and the might of a nuclear-armed state to bring the peace and democracy we enjoy today.”


Those present were in unison saying Mam’ Winnie hasn’t died but has multiplied because her spirit continues to live on in many people in South Africa and beyond, a theme which come up numerous times through the proceedings.

Well known Orlando Pirates supporter Joy “Mama Joy” said, “Mama Winnie was the strongest woman who has fought a good fight. She didn’t die, she lives in us. I am Winnie Madikizela Mandela.”

In attendance was the Madikizela and Mandela family, politicians, delegations from South Africa to the United States. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of Namibia Hage Geingob, the President of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso. International dignitaries included Supermodel, Naomi Campbell, American Civil Rights activist Reverend Jessie Jackson.

The leader of South Africa’s political party – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, who was very close to Madikizela-Mandela, praised her for having put the country first and putting her life in danger because of her love for her people and the need of restoring their freedom. Malema slammed those in attendance at the funeral service that had turned their backs on her calling them sell outs. He also addressed the ANC for having turned its back on Mama Winnie saying, “If it’s true that the ANC want to honour Winnie Mandela, name Cape Town Airport, Winnie Mandela Airport.”

Madikizela-Mandela dedicated her life to the liberation of South Africa, she endured injustices but her unwavering courage and fighting spirit allowed her to stand up at the height of racial oppression in South Africa when others were unable to do so. “Mama Winnie was a witness to the truths and horrors of our nation, not only because of her own hardships but because of her courage,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“Mama Winnie was my icon and my mum. To me she was like Jesus Christ because she used to fight a lot for us and she never forgot the poor people, she saw us as human beings. I remember when I was still young seeing her at Zone 7 after the Sebokeng massacre, she was also there to support us after the Boipatong massacre, and many years before that she was there in Sharpeville. Mama Winnie was always there for us,” said Jwalane Mokoena from Sebokeng.

Winnie Mandela’s funeral service: Photo by Zikhona Masala

As the Mother of The Nation exited the stadium to her final resting place, it thundered and poured with rain, the crowds erupted with cheering and jubilation, reacting to rain, which according to African culture is seen as showers of blessing. The giant was laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Park after a ten day period of mourning.

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