Winnie Mandela: A life and legacy misunderstood

By: Karl Nelson, Social Media Manager, @KarlNelsonJR

Ms. Winnie Mandela spent the majority of her life living in the midst of apartheid — systematic racial segregation and discrimination that lasted from 1948 until the early 1990s in South Africa, and that still today has its negative aftershocks. 

Apartheid was fueled by white supremacy and the suppression of the black majority in South Africa. 

Mandela became a prominent figure during the anti-apartheid movement, as she made it her plight to not only fight for equal rights for herself but for the equal rights of many suppressed people in South Africa, where she became revered by her supporters as the “Mother of the Nation.”

Mandela was known for her militaristic approach to fighting apartheid, and though some of her past tactics aren’t popular among her critics today, I’d challenge those critics to walk a mile in Mandela’s shoes. 

This was a woman who had been arrested on several occasions by apartheid state security services. She was tortured. She was taken away from her children and banished to a town far from her home. Mandela was also subject to about 18 months in solitary confinement, where she was beaten and assaulted by apartheid police — beaten so badly that she later developed an addiction to painkillers. 

It’s important to remember that when someone passes away, it’s those who were closest to that person who are best-fit to speak on behalf of their loved one, not the media.

In the case of the lovely Ms. Winnie Mandela, Armstrong Williams and others have been able to speak to the character and resilience of Mandela. These are individuals who spent quality time with her and witnessed some of what she endured during her precious time here on earth. 

At her funeral, which was attended by more than 40,000 people in Soweto, several individuals, including Mandela’s daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, offered their sentiments. 

As for Zenani, she made it clear that her mother endured a great deal of pain throughout her life. 

“To those of you who vilified my mother, don’t think for a minute that we’ve forgotten,” Zenani said. “The pain you’ve inflicted on her lives on in us. Praising her now that she’s gone shows what hypocrites you are.”

President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, spoke about Mandela’s significant role in the anti-apartheid movement. 

“She was an African woman who in her attitude, her words and her actions defied the very premise of apartheid ideology and male superiority,” Ramaphosa said in a eulogy. “Proud, defiant, articulate, she exposed the lie of apartheid.”

“Death has not defeated her,” David Makhura, the premier of Gauteng Province, said at the funeral. 

Poet Mzwakhe Mbuli praised Mandela as “the embodiment of courage. The embodiment of resilience. The embodiment of strength.” 

This is who Winnie Mandela was and should be remembered as.

In a recent TV appearance, Mr. Williams spoke about the responsibility that the media has when it comes to being fair in their coverage — a responsibility that many media sources have lost sight of. 

The Armstrong Williams Show prides itself on covering issues from a perspective of fairness. That will be on full display once again when a special edition of the show — focused on the life and legacy of Winnie Mandela — airs across the nation Saturday and Sunday. 

That’s a show that you will not want to miss. Check your local listings and join The Armstrong Williams Show in honoring a hero. | KMN