South Africa bids emotional farewell to 'Mama Winnie' Mandela

12 April, 2018, 01:01 | Author: Stuart Potter
  • Former President Jacob Zuma greets ANC supporters outside late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s home in Soweto

The venue for her official sendoff is the Orlando Stadium‚ located in the township that she for decades called home‚ despite the strife and upheaval that plagued the area during the struggle against apartheid. "I had the privilege of being the first grandchild they could raise after (Nelson Mandela) returned from prison".

Orlando Stadium has been filling up with people since early Wednesday morning.

"She told me I used to drag my grandfather downstairs to the bathroom saying to him there were guns in there, and when opened, there were in fact guns in there", Bambatha said.

"Memorial and prayer services have been held around the country to honour and pay respect to the struggle icon".

Widow of former South African President Nelson Mandela Graca Machel (C) arrives to attend a memorial service for the late anti-apartheid stalwart Winnie Madikizela Mandela at Orlando Stadium on April 11, 2018 in Johannesburg.

"She was a symbol of hope to many of us", President Cyril Ramaphosa said at a memorial in her hometown on Tuesday.

The Soweto Gospel Choir sang several songs and led mourners in singing the national anthem at the start of the service.

The charismatic master of ceremonies cried "Long live the fighting spirit of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela", and "Viva Soweto!" to spirited chanting from the crowd.

"As a mother I can imagine Winnie Mandela would have made decisions at any time, for what to prioritise; her children, or the children of South Africa".

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"I can tell you that 90% of that stuff was utter rubbish and figments of my very fertile imagination and/or a ballooning of information I received from intelligence-gatherers at Soweto security branch".

Not long after, she met ANC activist Mr Mandela and the couple married in 1958, forming one of the most storied unions of the 21st century.

Mandela was referencing the white residents of those neighbourhoods who she still considered the opposition.

She campaigned relentlessly for Mandela's release during his 27-year imprisonment, raised two daughters alone and faced harassment by South African security forces.

"I remember when we were arrested in our fight against pass laws for women", she said, describing how they were both breastfeeding at the time.

Her great-grandchildren were also among the family members who paid tributes at the memorial service.

Mananki Joyce Seipei, the mother of a boy whose kidnapping Winnie was convicted of in 1991, was reportedly encouraged by the ANC to attend Wednesday's event. "She knew it was a thankless job and did not endure the hardship in pursuit of any personal glorification but instead for the emancipation of her people".

Minister Dlamini-Zuma reported that government has since declared days of mourning from 3 April 2018 leading up to the funeral on Saturday, 14 April 2018.

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