popular
Photo via Wikimedia

A Tribute to the Late Apartheid Struggle Veteran, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Reflections on the great legacy of Winnie Mandela, "Mother of the Nation."

After battling a long illness, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Mother of the Nation, passed away this afternoon at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg surrounded by her loved ones. Her death has left the entire country in mourning.

When many think of Winnie, they think of her former husband Nelson Mandela. And while this is true, Winnie was her own woman and a fiercely passionate one at that. Though she may not have been imprisoned for 27 years or become president of the ANC, without her contribution and continued work during the apartheid struggle, this country would not have achieved what it eventually did in 1994.

When Winnie met Nelson Mandela as a young woman, she couldn't have imagined at that point in time, just how drastically her life would change. And when they eventually married, it was clear that the man she loved, loved politics and his country above all else, but she grew to understand this—difficult as it was. She and her children endured the numerous arrests and imprisonments, and the long periods he spent away from them as a result of his political activities within the ANC, which had been forced to operate underground. Perhaps this was all to prepare her for the biggest blow that would eventually come: the infamous Rivonia Trial which resulted in the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island for close to three decades.


And it was during Nelson's imprisonment that Winnie kept the fire burning. She kept the hope alive among the people of this country when it seemed like all hope had been lost. Many leaders within the ANC had been forced into exile for fear of losing their lives, murdered or imprisoned alongside her husband. Winnie continued leading protests, gathering South Africans together and continuing the struggle despite the apartheid government's impassioned efforts to suppress it. I recall an interview I watched wherein Winnie spoke of how it was lonely at times to have to raise her fist in the air and shout amandla by herself. She spoke of how those were dark and frightening days, but she did not judge anyone who had not stood with her at times. She understood the fear they had was the same fear that she felt herself.

There was even a time when Winnie was forcibly removed from her home in Soweto and exiled to a small town called Brandfort in the Free State province. Winnie was Xhosa and the community in Brandfort were predominantly Sotho. The apartheid government had hoped to put an end to her political involvement because of the language barrier that would be presented to her, however, they had once again underestimated her. Within a short space of time, Winnie Mandela was back at it, mobilizing people within the community. She had gained their trust and went on to address a political rally not long after. Winnie was a figure of stoic defiance. She was immovable, unshakeable and committed to seeing the liberation of her people even if that meant putting herself in the line of fire time and again.

However, after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and he and Winnie's subsequent divorce, rumours started circulating, claiming that the divorce had been caused by Winnie's implication in the murder of child activist, Stompie Seipei, allegedly because she believed Stompie was a police informer. Although Winnie maintained her innocence with regards to Stompie's murder and Jerry Richardson, the coach of the Mandela United Football Club (founded by Winnie), was ultimately charged with the murder, it somewhat blemished her reputation in the public eye. While many have postulated that it was an attempt on the part of the apartheid government to discredit Winnie (I certainly do) and have her wrongly imprisoned, others remain unconvinced and believe that she was responsible for Stompie's death. Unfortunately, we can never really know the truth.

Fast forward decades later and I recall, during #FeesMustFall, when so many were condemning students for their protests against fee increases at universities across the nation, Winnie stood with us. She called out the ANC and their failures and refused to abandon the black children as so many of her comrades had done. I will never forget that. None of us as students will ever forget that or what it meant to us.

And so this is a tribute to you, Mother of the Nation. Indeed it was as long a walk to freedom for you as it was for your male comrades. We acknowledge you, honour you and send you off to finally rest. Lala ngoxolo mama. Rest in peace. Rest in power.

Interview
Photo: Shaughn Cooper

Ras Nebyu Is Washington, D.C.'s 'Uptown Lion Walkin'

We talk to the Ethiopian-American rapper about his new album, his Washington Slizzards crew, and the impact of gentrification on D.C.'s music scene.

Ras Nebyu is caught up in the crowd at Howard University's homecoming tailgate, where he can barely walk a block without shaking hands with another person who he knows. Although he didn't attend Howard University, the campus and the surrounding neighborhood forms as much of a part of his narrative as any student.

The Ethiopian-American rapper hails from uptown Washington, D.C., a neighborhood he uses to inform his latest album, Uptown Lion Walkin, a project that pays homage to his ancestral upbringing, as well as his thoughts on making money, love, happiness, and the government.

There's a twoness to Nebyu's identity that allows him to create from a place of historical-cultural reverence while pushing forward new ideas. He was raised in a Rastafarian household by an Ethiopian dad and African-American mother.

Nebyu doesn't hold much back when he speaks, like his music. He preaches about belonging to his community, gentrification and the diaspora. His work serves as a strong soundboard, for not only his Ethiopian community but D.C. natives.

In 2011, Nebyu co-founded the Washington Slizzards, a collective of Ethiopian creatives in D.C. What started as a joke, tacking on "slizz" to everything, became a buzz-worthy crew. Around the same time as the group's inception, he began releasing music into the world.

Nebyu first ventured into making music as a producer, but soon found it frustrating getting artists to use his beats. He decided to begin experimenting with using his own voice and hasn't slowed down since. OkayAfrica caught up with Nebyu to discuss the new album and growing up uptown.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio

Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty, Afro B & Mayorkun Join DJ Neptune On 'Tear Rubber' Remix

Listen to the "All Star Remix" now.

"Tear Rubber," one of the standouts from DJ Neptune's latest album, Greatness, gets a big remix that'll jump start your week.

The track, which originally featured Mayorkun, now gets a massive revisit featuring Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty and Afro B.

All three are potent additions to this laid-back and addictive Young John-produced track which was already getting a lot of spins.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Listen to Sade's Beautiful New Song—'The Big Unknown'

Sade has graced us with her second single of the year—this time for Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, "Widows."

We now have two new Sade songs to shed thug tears to before the end of 2018, y'all.

The queen herself released a lyric video for her new track, "The Big Unknown." This single will be played during the end credits of Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, Widows, which is due to be released in theaters November 16, Highsnobiety reports.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.