UNIVERSITY news - april 2018

9 april 2018   |


prof ramash
With all her difficulties, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be remembered for her exceptional fighting spirit, activism, courageous defiance, and a revolutionary who dedicated herself to the people.

The University of Mpumalanga is deeply saddened by the death of Ma Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who during her lifetime became a powerful symbol of defiance against apartheid.

Born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in 1936, Madikizela-Mandela moved to Johannesburg in 1953 to study social work. It was there that she met former president Nelson Mandela, a lawyer and anti-apartheid activist, in 1957.

They were married a year later, but her life with her new husband was unfortunately short-lived. Mandela was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Although they remained married for a total of 38 years, they spent 27 of those years apart.

Throughout the course of Mandela’s prison term‚ Madikizela-Mandela campaigned tirelessly against the apartheid regime, and bore the consequences. She was placed under house arrest, banished to Brandfort in the Free State for eight years. Yet the intimidation only served to heighten Winnie’s reputation as a political leader, recognised for her solidarity with ordinary people in the community. In 1969 became one of the first detainees under Section 6 of the infamous Terrorism Act of 1967. She was held for 18 months in solitary confinement in the Pretoria Central Prison before being charged.

In 1986, she was allowed to return home to Soweto from Brandfort, and in 1990, when Nelson Mandela was freed at last, the couple were reunited. But the reunion was short-lived and they separated in 1992. During this period, Winnie was appointed as the ANC’s Head of Social Welfare, and even after the end of apartheid, she continued to campaign for the causes she believed in, including free anti-retroviral treatment for HIV-positive patients.

Ma Winnie Madikizela-Mandela remains a complex and enigmatic figure, who today is remembered as the spiritual mother of our nation. There is no doubt that she suffered tremendously during her life, but she always maintained a special relationship with South Africa – and especially with the youth, who looked upon her as an icon who never abandoned her commitment to justice.

UMP conveys condolences to her family and all those close to her. We will forever cherish her contribution to the liberation of this country. May the soul of this Mother of the South African Nation who suffered so much in the cause of Black liberation, rest in peace.

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