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Winnie Mandela (1936 - 2018): A Smart Beautiful Woman To Remember

Winnie Mandela also Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela on September 26, 1936, in Bizana, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. She is a politician, lawmaker, activist, and former freedom fighter. She died on April 2, 2018 after a long illness aged 81.

After completing high school in Bizana, Winnie Mandela studied at Jan Hofmeyr School in Johannesburg, where she graduated with a degree in social work. Later, she studied at the University of Witswatersrand, also in Johannesburg, successfully graduating with a bachelors degree in international relations. Winnie Mandela did not ,however, had the opportunity to put into practice her academic and professional knowledge and skills. With only a short working period as a social worker at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, she spent most of her youth life from August 1960 to September 1990 as a fearless hardcore freedom fighter in the liberation struggle against the then apartheid regime in South Africa, under the banner of the African National Congress, ANC, and its military wing called Umkotho Wa Siswe.

She played a monumental role in the struggle, and as such, becoming one of the main enemies of the apartheid regime. Consequently, the extra-ordinarily beautiful and strong Winnie Mandela was mercilessly targeted by the regime. Over a period of 30 years, she was regularly detained, tortured, incarcerated, kept in solitary confinement, demonized by the media, and subjected to constant surveillance. At the same time, she was raising her children single handed as her husband Nelson Mandela was in prison for his involvement in the same struggle.

When the apartheid regime in South Africa was defeated eventually, and multi-racial ANC government established in 1994, Winnie Mandela became the first African first lady in the country. Her role in the new government was, nevertheless, short lived. In 1997 she became the only top ANC member to be probed by the iconic Truth and Reconciliation Commission for crimes committed by the former apartheid regime, and specifically aimed at criminalizing her. Albeit she managed to fight back very well, her invaluable contribution and personal sacrifice to the liberation of South Africa could be argued to have unjustifiably received inadequate appreciation.

Despite the unfair treatment she received from society, Winnie Mandela did not complain. In an interview for a 2017 documentary about herself, called Winnie, she said she was very contented and happy with her immense contribution to her homeland and society at large, irrespective of the magnitude of appreciation from society per se. She indicated what matters most to her, was to see justice and inclusiveness established in South Africa, and nothing else.

Winnie Mandela's life is extremely inspirational, not only to South Africa, but to the world at large. Specifically, it emphasizes the notion that lack of appreciation from those we help should not deter us from continuing providing help. Also, her life demonstrates how society can be brutal to some of those who love it and willing to do everything they can to make it a better place to be! On the basis of these implications of Winnie Mandela's life have for society, and her extra-ordinary and unwavering concern about others, it is absolutely doubtless that she was one of the smartest beautiful women of all time.


Last update: October 16, 2020


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