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.