In the early hours of Monday the 2nd of April, Africa lost one of her most venerated treasures. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the legendary anti-apartheid activist rested surrounded by family and loved ones.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela may be known for being the woman who stood by Nelson Mandela for the 27 years he was in prison but her legacy shall be more for what she stood for than who she stood by. She has been dramatically called a "a colossus who strode the Southern African political landscape"and yet it is difficult to argue with such seemingly exaggerated plaudits. This is a woman the nation of South African was honoured to call Mother of the Nation. This is a heroine who "fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country". Desmond Tutu rightly described her as a "defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid" with inspirational courageous defiance.
Winnie was imprisoned multiple times from 1969 and she spent much of her spells in solitary confinement. She had her house burnt down and there is reasonable suspicion that South African forces were behind the arson. Winnie was however not flawless and her criminal record would prove the same. She was convicted of fraud in 2003 and in the late 1980s had courted controversy for the killing of a township militant, Stompie Seipei who had been captured by Winnie's bodyguards and later found dead. She was found guilty of Seipei's kidnapping. Despite her misgivings, this was still a woman Africa is only blessed to have had. She will be terribly missed.