When she was thrown in prison, she was put near the torture chamber where she could hear the white women torturing the Black women. However, their violence was erased and hers was put out there on the spot. Her story has shown her to be the one who was using violence in the struggle against apartheid, and her husband was that of peace. With Madiba being a lawyer, he used the constitutional and legal approach to fighting apartheid. It was only around 1953 that Mandela had come to the realization that the use of these sophisticated ways was not necessarily going to bring about change; hence, he leaned more to the side of ‘physical action’. Mandela founded the Umkhonto WeSizwe and resorted to violence. When they were married, Winnie had already been in the loop that embarking on this journey with Mandela meant blood had to be shed and violence was inevitable in getting freedom. So when we talk about Winnie and the necklacing, matches, and sticks may we not forget that there was a background to this, may she not be painted as if she sorely decided that as for her, violence would be used in the liberation struggle. It was simply a response to what was an already violent country. This in no way justifies any form of violence. If we are to name everyone who has used violence during apartheid then may we name all of them and not single one out. This also led me to reflect on the violence we still experience today. The consequences of what was a violent country are felt and seen even today. The use of violence simply left a dent In the African countries and people have become comfortable with the use of it. One would then question if this violence could be linked to the normality of gender-based violence. Martin Luther King wrote: If you sow the seeds of violence in your struggle, unborn generations will reap the whirlwind of social disintegration.
Winnie was later brought to the TRC, (a body created after apartheid were victims and witnesses were brought to give statements and possibly apologize ) , where she was put In a position to apologize for what happened to Stompie. The problem wIth TRC was that it leveled White and Black violence. It was a matter of ‘we both did wrong in being violent, let us apologize.’ However, Winnie refused to just let the issue go by simply apologizing and accepting that both parties were being violent in a ‘justified’ way. Winnie viewed herself and had already been labeled as Mother of Nation. Mama presented a very different idea on activism and the patriarchy at that time could not contain that. Could it be why her story was then mainly focused on the incident of the late Stompie? I mean the worst thing that can happen to a mother of a nation who is a social worker, is that they are convicted of killing a young boy. If we allow patriarchy to paint a picture of who uMama was, we have allowed ourselves as women to be erased from history. We have allowed the Black women to be erased from the History of those who were on the frontline of fighting in the struggle. May we not silence our stories in fear of being called mad or angry. So yes, uMama had her fair portion of scandals and if we were not there to witness what happened may we not use the accusations of her killing as her main story. The media has done enough in painting her image in a horrible manner. It is up to us as the young Black woman to write her story and make sure uMama’s story, the Black woman’s story is not archived.
In an interview on The Oral History Archive, uMama Mandela says, ‘ It is an individual choice you make in your life to make a difference. It is an individual choice to understand that my neighbour is not as privileged as I am. Extend your heart to those around you and that is the democracy you must protect, that is the democracy that should make you have an individual choice. Are you going to make a difference in your life? And we depend entirely on you. Please better our lives so that when I go for good tomorrow you will be a president.’
So who was Winnie Madikizela Mandela? Mama Winnie Mandela was a woman who dared to be all she could, she was an intellectual, a carer, giver, wife, mother, and an activist. Winnie Madikizela Mandela was all she told herself she was and we won’t allow anyone to put a label over her nor put her story in an archive. UMama Winnie ngomunye weziMbokodo