Speeches

Tribute Speech : The Late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

13 April 2018

Honorable Premier

Madam Speaker

Members of this house

Guests in the gallery

The DA caucus in the Western Cape, the DA Women’s Network nationally, the womanist movement inclusive of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, oomazala, oomakoti amanina ngokubanzi, send our deepest condolences to the Madikizela-Mandela family on their loss. This is indeed a sad time not only for the family, but for the entire nation.                      

Ukwenjenje kukugxwala emswaneni sisithi ngxee kumzi wooNgutyana, ooMsengeshe, ooMakhalendlovu, ooNqwanda, ooPhapha. Singabalibelanga nakoRadebe, ooNdlebentle zombini, kulonina. Uwile umntu omkhulu. 

No one disputes that uMama was a big tree, just as no one can dispute that she was a complex figure.  But remember, Mama Winnie was uMama uWinnie. She was not anyone's social construct. As Alice Walker would say, "the animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans. Just like: as Black people were not made for white, or women created for men". 

Complexity kaMama, if you want to make it a major subject for discussion, then one must start from the  beginning: Lest we forget Nomzamo, the tomboy girl-child who destabilized the societal status quo: she grew up setting traps for animals, practised stick fighting with the boys in rural village of Mbizana.  

Lest we forget, Nomzamo, the girl-child lost her sister, then followed by her mother who gave birth to a son, that Nomzamo had to raise the newborn brother herself.

Lest we forget, Nomzamo, is the 26 year old wife who was left raising two babies on her own when her husband was incarcerated by the apartheid regime.

This is same Mama Winnie who was in and out of prison, physically & emotionally tortured, banned and banished to a rural town in solitary confinement for fighting for my freedom. 

Madame speaker, this is the uMama Winnie, the human being, I want us to remember.

In the face of adversity, uMangutyana stood tall and was a fearless fighter for the rights she believed in, and she stood firm in her conviction that apartheid could be brought down. She said what she liked, and bore the consequences. 

She is regarded a hero of our struggle and a revolutionary leader in her own right. Her road to freedom was never easy.

The authorities could not silence her - she continued the fight to free Madiba, the fight which ultimately brought about the freedom we all enjoy today.

Many bear witness to life before freedom – and we are here because of freedom fighters to the likes of uMama Winnie.

Let us remember a resilient and remarkable woman who stopped at nothing for the democracy we have in South Africa. She was far from just a silent bystander wife.  In the words of Mandla Mandela: “She was a rose who has been plucked from our garden of heroes".

Let us remember her through her legacy – she was a powerful woman who was a warrior. She remained a pillar of her community and a champion for the poor. South Africa is indebted to her for the decades of sacrifices she made on the frontline of the opposition struggle while others were imprisoned or exiled.

Let us continue to fight for the rights of the people of SA.

Let us continue to prioritize service delivery to those who most need it.

Let us honor the legacy of uMama Winnie in our fight for simple justice, equal opportunities and human rights. Let us not leave any person behind!

Let us be the soldiers, like Mama was, in the fight for gender equality, equal rights and opportunities for all.

Let us continue the race she started. We owe her, for the sacrifices she made for us to know what freedom is like.

Mama Winnie! Your name will go down in history as one of the greatest women of this nation; as the example you set will never be forgotten.

Umzamo omhle uwufezile. Ugqatso ulufezile. Till we meet again. Mzantsi Afrika: Miss her. But let her go.