Bathabile Dlamini pays tribute to #WinnieMandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela leads a Women's Day march in 2000. Picture: Reuters

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela leads a Women's Day march in 2000. Picture: Reuters

Published Apr 3, 2018


This is a tribute by ANC Women's League President Bathabile Dlamini to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who died on Monday at the age of 81.

A woman amongst women has fallen. 

An icon of the struggle, iqhawe lamaqhawe lihambile! 

Umaphuma efumbethe esiswini sikanina aze ahambe efumbethe ukuba yinkokheli yabantu.

South Africa has a long time to wait until she gets such a lioness who fought the apartheid regime as well as the oppression and patriarchy within the ANC, her movement, with the might it deserved. 

A real daughter of the soil, the rock of our nation is no more. My heart is bleeding but I know the hearts of many a woman is celebrating because of what she did for them. 

She fought tirelessly, defending the whole nation up until the enemy misguided with the hope of destroying her, but she prevailed and as usual stood the test of time.

I am so sorry that Queen mother from the United States will not be able to see Mam’Winnie as she told our SG Meokgo in the UN recently that it was very urgent that she met Mama Winnie! I am sorry to you SG that this happens whilst you were preparing for Queen Mother’s journey to South Africa. 

I am sure that much as we are crying we are proud to be her products, we are proud because she gave us an opportunity to celebrate her life where women like Hendrietta Bokgopane-Zulu and Criselda Kananda Dudumashe had an opportunity to wear the women’s league blouse in her presence. 

Throughout that process of celebrating her life, she allowed us to show our small ability to honour her bravery, her love, commitment and ability of an unassuming daughter of the soil.

Nothing was ever able to shut her down! When Bab’uGwala told us that Mam’ Winnie never joined government but joined the ANC when she was fired from Cabinet, we were made better persons with Sis’ Thandi Modise and Lulu Xingwana. We wanted to fight for her to remain in Cabinet and Bab’uGwala said no one can expel Winnie from the ANC and indeed no one expelled her from her organisation, the ANC. 

She and Bab’Gwala marshalled very angry forces who had numerously been attacked  by the third force and the forces of darkness at the memorial service of Chris Hani in Pietermaritzburg’s former market square. It was during that period at a Stadium in Johannesburg where Bab’uGwala predicted that South Africa will never be the same .

I have known so many people in the ANC, I have come across many heroes and heroines of the struggle but I have never come across such a fighter who would fight without any support from her own or even disowned by her own but continued with the fight for liberation and her own personal freedom without any weapon. 

Mama sent young people out of the country to train as freedom fighters for the liberation of the country .

Mam’ Winnie had love for everyone, her children, the children of the struggle, the soldiers of umkhonto weSizwe, she even loved those that hated her with a passion. She was a real soldier and welcomed the whites who were a symbol of apartheid and repression. 

Touch the ANC and you touch her soul. Touch her kids, touch Shell House and touch the youth league, you will know you have touched her.

Touch Chris Hani, Touch Harry Gwala, Tony Yengeni, Jeff Radebe, Peter Mokaba, Bantu Holomisa! 

Touch Ace Magashule, Touch the women you will see her! 

Mama would have been much satisfied if the struggle was won in the battlefield but she accepted the decision of the leadership to negotiate.

She had respect for MaSisulu, MaTambo, Mme Matomela. She had great respect for Charlotte Maxeke, Ida Mntwana, an orator like her, Lillian Ngoyi, for Ray Alexander and Mam’Holo, MaBertha and Mme Ruth Mompati.

Mam’Winnie did not mind us meeting at Shaft 17 as long as there was progress and vibrancy in the women’s league. Women wanted to hear from her at all times, women and young people and the society at large always wanted to surround her like the Queen she was. 

She loved and had a soft spot for Peter Mokaba, Lulu Xingwana,  Malusi Gigaba and more for Fikile Mbalula and Julius Malema for their roaring voices and their ability to shake the youth to defend the ANC .

A beautiful woman inside and outside. A beautiful woman who had her contest with the masses of the country. She had the toughest of contests. It was one of war meant to be fought by men and not just ordinary men but only brave men and women who participated in this struggle.

Her contest was not for the wicked but for those who had a very deep understanding of the freedom of the mind;  freedom from the chains of apartheid and  freedom from poverty. 

Her spirit was never dampened by Brandfort instead she was more productive and she liberated herself from banishment. 

Mam’ Winnie never undermined the people of South Africa. She reminded me that I was from the rural areas whenever she made us drink water or Amarewu. A very neat woman who would serve us with her best cutlery and crockery. She kept reminding us who we were and where we came from through her actions not through her words. 

Only she, a special leader, who led by example. She was able to keep the pain inside her beautiful heart. She never cried in the presence of those who were suffering but she would become a lioness and cry during her private moments. You would only see her watery shining eyes when it was difficult. Never could shed a tear. 

It is very heartening that a woman who was crucified by many goes during this period of Easter. Mam’ Winnie refused to be confined! She would come to an ANC rally draped in her John Wesley women’s manyano uniform for she knew the power of prayer. 

Makhosikazi, let us all in our numbers pray for the spirit of Mom Winnie to Rest In Peace. 

Let us pray for the Nation, let us for forgiveness. There was a lot of good that was done by Mam’Winnie. 

Hamba kahle Zanyiwe! Hamba Kahle qhawe lamaqhawe! 

Hamba Kahle Mangutyana! 

Mama, you earned being Mother of the Nation and no one could take that away from you! We will always love you Mama. 

Sohlala sikukhumbula! 

Thank you Zenani and Zindzi for sharing your Mom with the Nation. Thank you to Mama’s grandchildren for sharing your grandmother with the Nation. Thank you to the Madikizela and the Mandela family for sharing your daughter with us. Thank you to the people of  Mbizana and her family especially her siblings for sharing Mama with us .

Thank you Mama for being a visionary and sharing your medical social work with the Nation. 

Thank you to Sis’ Zodwa and everyone who did the work of the Nation by looking after Mam’ Winnie with love and excellence. 

Thank you for you love and patience. Thank you for your accepting everyone and opening your hearts to each and everyone of us. 



Roar young lions roar!!! 

* Bathabile Dlamini is president of the ANC Women's League.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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