Winnie Madikizela Mandela has just been laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Park, north of Johannesburg. The occasion brought together friends and foes, and international dignitaries – all united in bidding farewell to her. The National Defence Force accorded her full military honours, with soldiers carrying her coffin.
Leading the occasion was President Cyril Ramaphosa who delivered the eulogy, describing Mama Winnie as being perpetually in the trenches, and one who witnessed the worst atrocities of the apartheid state.
“As a potent symbol of resistance, as the steadfast bearer of the name ‘Mandela’, she was seen by the enemy as a threat to the racist state. She was an African woman who – in her attitude, her words and her actions- defied the very premise of apartheid ideology and male superiority. Proud, defiant, articulate, exposed the lie of apartheid.”
To a rapt audience, Ramaphosa extolled her common humanity and a life spent unifying the oppressed.
Mama Winnie is lying next to two of her great-grandchildren.
But it was Madikizela-Mandela’s eldest daughter, Zenani who delivered a heart-rending tribute. She decried those who are now exposing the truth about the story of her mother.
Zenani Mandela broke down as she started to deliver her speech. She later regained her composure.
And lamented the fact that many people only spoke out in her mother’s defence after she had died.
“I was particularly angered by the former police commissioner George Fivaz for cruelly only coming out with the truth after my mother’s death.
“And to those who have vilified my mother through books, on social media and speeches, don’t for a minute think we have forgotten. The pain you inflicted on her lives on in us.”
She criticised those who praised her after her death. “Praising her now that she’s gone shows what hypocrites you are. Why didn’t do the same to any of her male counterparts and remind the world of the many crimes they committed before they were called saints.”
The media was also not spared.
Zenani also acknowledged the love and the support they have received from the public. She referred to the #ImAmWinnie Movement which saw all women wearing doeks to honour the fallen stalwart.
“Like her, you showed that we can be beautiful, powerful and revolutionary – even as we challenge the lies that have been peddled for so long.”
Earlier, mourners at the funeral have expressed their gratitude at being able to participate in her final send off at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Young and old spoke of the unity that has been exhibited by political parties across the board and what they have learnt from the struggle icon.
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