JOHANNESBURG, April 14 – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, says South Africans should learn from and be inspired by her mother’s courage.
Speaking at the struggle icon’s funeral at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg on Saturday, Mandela-Dlamini said her family had watched in awe as young women stood up and took a stand of deep solidarity with her mother since her death after a short illness on Easter Monday.
“I stand here this morning [Saturday] to both mourn my mother and also, like you, to celebrate her life. Because her’s is one of the most unique stories in recent history. She dared to take on one of the most powerful and evil regimes of the past century, and she triumphed,” she said.
“One of the most important measures of how someone’s life has been lived is the extent to which they have touched others. By this measure, my mother’s life was a remarkable one. For those of us who’ve been close to her, we have always appreciated just how much she meant to the world. But even we were unprepared for the scale of the outpouring of love and personal testimonies from so many. From the rising generation, which is too young to have been around when my mother took on the apartheid state, to those who hail from the African diaspora, we have been reminded of how she touched so many, in ways that are so deeply personal.”
Mandela-Dlamini – South African ambassador to Argentina and Paraguay – also lambasted the media for its role in “distorting” the contribution her mother made to the struggle for the liberation of South Africa.
She said she was particularly angered by former police commissioner George Fivaz “for cruelly only coming out with the truth after my mother’s death.”
“As the world, and particularly the media, which is so directly complicit in the smear campaign against my mother, took notice of your acts of resistance, so too did this narrative begin to change. The world saw that a young generation, unafraid of the power of the establishment, was ready to challenge its lies, lies that had become part of my mother’s life. And this was also when we saw so many who had sat on the truth come out one by one to say that they had known all along that these things that had been said about my mother were not true,” Mandela-Dlamini said.
“And as each of them disavowed these lies, I had to ask myself: ‘Why had they sat on the truth and waited till my mother’s death to tell it?’ It is so disappointing to see how they withheld their words during my mother’s lifetime, knowing very well what they would have meant to her. Only they know why they chose to share the truth with the world after she departed. I think their actions are actions of extreme cruelty, because they robbed my mother of her rightful legacy during her lifetime. It is little comfort to us that they have come out now.”
Mandela-Dlamini also called out those who were praising Madikizela-Mandela now that she was dead when they did not do so while she was alive.
“And to those who’ve vilified my mother through books, on social media, and speeches, don’t for a minute think we’ve forgotten. The pain you inflicted on her lives on in us,” she said.
“Praising her now that she’s gone shows what hypocrites you are. Why didn’t you do the same to any of her male counterparts and remind the world of the many crimes they committed before they were called saints,” Mandela-Dlamini said.
Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s daughters Zinzi and Zenani also paid a moving yet defiant tribute to their mother, saying she had kept the “fires of liberation burning” in the country while her husband, former president Nelson Mandela, was in prison.
Zenani, who struggled to hold back tears while speaking at Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, lambasted the media for “peddling lies” about her mother and her contribution to the struggle, but only to recover to tell the truth when she was dead.
“Lies had became part of the narrative of her life. But the truth has come out. Only they know why they chose to share the truth now,” she said.
“And to those of you who vilified my mother through books, on speeches, and on social media, don’t even think for a minute that we have forgotten. Praising my mother now that she is gone shows [what] hypocrites you are.”
Zanani also slammed the media’s “obsession” with her mother’s personal life, saying that “the world holds men and women to different standards of morality”.
She said Madikizela-Mandela had made a choice to raise her own family and the larger family of South Africa as her contribution to the struggle, but had always reminded her children that they were the most important people in her life.
“Ever since our mother departed this world our hearts have been heavy. We have been shielded from our own pain by your condolences. I stand here to celebrate her life. She took on the most evil and powerful regime of the past century. She fought because the fight against apartheid was not some polite picnic at which you showed up in your best behaviour,” she said.
Grandchild Zondwa Mandela said Madikizela-Mandela’s death was a “wound” that would never heal, adding that Madikizela-Mandela was a hero who sacrificed her own life for the betterment of her people.
“In the face of danger they sacrificed… She was just an ordinary woman, one of us, but dared to fight for what is right,” Zondwa said.