Crowds celebrate Winnie Mandela's life at Soweto memorial service

Thousands of mourners gathered Wednesday in South Africa for a public memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 2:13 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 2:13 PM

Thousands of mourners gathered Wednesday in South Africa for a public memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the anti-apartheid campaigner and former wife of the late President Nelson Mandela.

The memorial in Soweto comes ahead of a funeral service to be held on Saturday.

Madikizela-Mandela died in a Johannesburg hospital on April 2 at the age of 81, after what her family said was a long illness. She was known as the "Mother of the Nation" because of her struggle against white minority rule in South Africa.

Singing echoed round the Orlando Stadium in Soweto township as the mourners, some dancing as they sang, remembered Madikizela-Mandela's life in a lengthy service. Many were clad in the black, green and gold of the ruling African National Congress political party, some in T-shirts with an image of Madikizela-Mandela.

Among those to pay tribute were South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, Rita Ndzanga, a close family friend, and Madikizela-Mandela's personal assistant Zodwa Zwane. "Fellow South Africans, we have lost a mother, we have lost a friend," said Zwane.

Madikizela-Mandela's grandson, Bambatha Mandela, said it was a time for mourning but also a time to celebrate the life of an "extraordinary woman" who was "a mother, a soldier, an icon."

He paid tribute to her efforts in support of his grandfather and criticized those who questioned her legacy. "Behind every great man is a greater woman. Umama was the embodiment of that quote," he said, using a local word for mother.

Bambatha Mandela added that his grandmother had never moved away from Soweto, as many others had, because she wanted to live among the people for whom she had fought.

Several of Madikizela-Mandela's great-grandchildren also spoke in remembrance of her. "Big mummy, we all love you," said one.

Madikizela-Mandela was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, including the 27 years he was imprisoned on an island near Cape Town.

A longtime stalwart of the ANC, she was a member of South Africa's parliament at the time of her death.

ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte said Madikizela-Mandela had loved the party and that her life's work of "returning the land to the people" must continue. "This is our hero, this is our heroine, we know her worth -- she gave everything to us," Duarte said.

One of the last official visits the anti-apartheid activist received was from current South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who went with her to Soweto township last month to encourage people to register to vote in next year's presidential election.

Following her death, Ramaphosa praised Madikizela-Mandela as "an advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalized" and "a voice for the voiceless."

"Even at the darkest moments of our struggle for liberation, Mam' Winnie was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free," Ramaphosa said in a statement. "In the midst of repression, she was a voice of defiance and resistance. In the face of exploitation, she was a champion of justice and equality."

Born in 1936 in what is now known as Eastern Cape province, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela was the daughter of a history teacher.

As a 22-year-old social worker, she married Nelson Mandela in 1958, and stood by him in the years following his 1964 conviction and life imprisonment for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Madikizela-Mandela led an international campaign calling for his release.

Outside Africa, Madikizela-Mandela was known largely because of her ex-husband, but in South Africa she was the mouthpiece and face of the bitter struggle against the racist regime.

Although Madikizela-Mandela helped usher in a new, more equitable South African political system during her lifetime, she was also entangled in a number of scandals over the years.

Terre Haute
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 51°
Robinson
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
Indianapolis
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Rockville
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 40°
Casey
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
Brazil
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 51°
Marshall
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
A Nice Thanksgiving
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 674089

Reported Deaths: 12261
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook2871246389
DuPage42201754
Will36082532
Lake34915612
Kane29870449
Winnebago17843248
McHenry13332150
Madison13291229
St. Clair12340255
Champaign1031652
Sangamon938390
Peoria8388124
Rock Island8152121
Kankakee799996
McLean786950
Tazewell616992
Macon6121117
Kendall583342
LaSalle5687127
DeKalb471445
Adams449046
Boone364230
Vermilion355344
Whiteside3510100
Williamson332777
Coles316058
Clinton303556
Ogle266026
Knox259956
Grundy253916
Effingham252518
Jackson250334
Henry245313
Stephenson231834
Marion228344
Livingston209521
Randolph205924
Morgan204734
Macoupin198817
Bureau198337
Monroe193144
Franklin187422
Christian177640
Lee172224
Jefferson170859
Woodford158926
Iroquois153325
Logan152412
McDonough151339
Fayette146328
Fulton131910
Douglas126916
Shelby125824
Jersey114923
Union112026
Montgomery105819
Saline105122
Crawford10509
Jo Daviess101816
Warren100620
Carroll100124
Perry96820
Pike96623
Bond93610
Lawrence92410
Hancock90412
Cass90021
Moultrie82810
Wayne82432
Greene77426
Clay75817
Clark74519
Edgar73315
Piatt7215
Ford69821
Mercer67710
Richland67419
Johnson6653
Mason64916
Washington6112
Jasper60511
De Witt58814
Cumberland58013
White5648
Massac5112
Wabash4918
Menard4211
Pulaski3862
Hamilton3663
Marshall3625
Unassigned3620
Brown2983
Henderson2610
Alexander2482
Schuyler2431
Putnam2360
Calhoun2250
Scott2230
Stark2183
Edwards2123
Gallatin1803
Hardin1310
Pope791
Out of IL140

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266