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FAREWELL TO WINNIE By Rae Samuel

posted 6 Apr 2018, 07:51 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 6 Apr 2018, 07:56 ]
Winnie Mandela visited Trinidad and Tobago in 1998 at the invitation of the Emancipation Support Committee. I remember her opening her presentation at the Savannah and uttering, in a strong voice, "Amandla'' the war cry of the freedom fighters from South Africa.

Later on we would host another Mother of Africa, Miriam Makeba at the same venue. Amidst all the celebration and ceremony, one often remembers how much history persons like that carry, much of it alone and in sacrificial times.

Nelson Mandela came some years later, a frail figure who, we were told, should not have been travelling so much. They all have been at the rendezvous of so much history, creating and helping to push the process forward.

Winnie Mandela's passing seals an epoch of history. She is probably the last of the
visionaries who symbolised by their work, the dream of a new order for Africans at home and abroad. There will be no more figures whom we will recall that way, since that phase of the struggle is over. 

She fought long lonely battles to raise her family and support the struggle from a leadership position in the open air concentration camp that was the apartheid state.

I recall Dr. Acklyn Lynch at an OWTU annual conference, pointing out that Winnie, unlike the other leaders of the ANC, remained in the townships and had not moved into sanctum. Dr. Lynch roundly condemned the leaders of the new government whom he accused of folding up so easily. At the same time, though an invited guest, he warned that he sensed the OWTU was losing its perspective and direction.

The leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema stated that she was the Mother of the Nation. This is not a title or a post you are voted into. The masses give you that honour, he said.

She asked to be invited to Carnival but it never happened. On its way to becoming its opposite the ANC climbed into bed with 'white monopoly capital'. To succeed they had to marginalise and isolate Winnie Mandela. One, however, cannot kill ideas and the EFF has openly acknowledged and embraced her. 

In her golden years she was celebrated by this new radical movement. "When they drove us out, when we broke with the ANC leadership, it was here we came,'' Malema says. “When we needed a mother she was here for us.”

We will come to remember and celebrate the life and times of Winnie Mandela in the same way we will laud Claudia Jones, Fannie Fannie Lou Hamer, our own Sister Thelma Williams of the OWTU. Maybe one of her greatest joys was being celebrated in her life time by this generation of fighters. Malema.called for the ordinary people to own her final passage. 

Winnie inspired the children of Soweto to take on the might of the criminal South African state with nothing but courage and their bare hands.

May the ancestors warmly welcome this Mother of Africa!
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