black women

Winnie Mandela Doesn’t Get the same Credit as Nelson, but she was just as important

By  |  0 Comments

winnie-and-nelson-mandelaBy Yolanda Spivey

Winnie Mandela was born on September 26, 1936 in Bizana, a rural village in the district of South Africa.  Her birth name is Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela which means “she who tries.” She was well known for being the wife of Nelson Mandela.  During his lengthy imprisonment, Winnie Mandela continued her husband’s work fighting viciously and fearlessly for the people of South Africa. She is widely known to have had a hand in dismantling the system of apartheid that gripped the people of her native land.  Winnie Mandela is hated and revered by many, but despite all, her life story has been portrayed in many movies, television shows and stage plays.

Here are five other facts about Winnie Mandela that may interest you:

Fact #1: Winnie Mandela received a full scholarship to study in America but she decided to stay in South Africa and work as the first black medical social worker at Baragwanath Hospital. While working at the hospital, she saw first-hand the deplorable conditions many of her patients lived in.

Fact #2: Winnie Mandela’s father didn’t want her to marry Nelson Mandela because of the huge age difference between the two. Nelson Mandela was 18 years older than Winnie. Also, Winnie’s father was concerned that Nelson Mandela’s growing political involvements would hurt his daughter.

Fact #3: After Nelson Mandela was sent to prison for life, Winnie raised their two daughters alone but still continued working as an activist fighting for the rights of people in South Africa.  She herself was eventually jailed and spent more than a year in solitary confinement where the authorities tortured her.  She never gave up. Even after the government placed her under house arrest for the Soweto uprisings where hundreds of students were killed, and even after her home was firebombed, Winnie Mandela continued to fearlessly protest the system of apartheid, thus becoming “Mother of the Nation.”

Fact #4: A popular soccer group eventually became Winnie Mandela’s bodyguards and they had a reputation for being brutal.  In 1989, the “Mandela United Football Club,” abducted and later killed a young 14 year old boy named Stomie Moeketski.  Winnie Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting the young boy but after an appeal, she was ordered to pay a fine. She later appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was found responsible for “gross violations of human rights” in connection with her bodyguard’s brutality against people they thought were traitors.

Fact #5: Although controversy followed Winnie Mandela, she was elected president of the ANC’s Women’s League. Nelson Mandela also named her deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology in 1994 but she was ousted the following year by her husband due to her radical behavior. The couple divorced in 1996.  In 1999, she was re-elected to the Parliament but had to resign from her post in 2003 due to an economic fraud conviction which was later overturned.