(in the Pic – Mrs Winnie Madikizela Mandela at her 80th birthday celebrations). Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa attends the 80th birthday celebrations of Mrs Winnie Madikizela Mandela held at Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. 14/09/2016, Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

Our icon of the month, is a woman of substance and a hero to many, she is a liberator and a voice for our country for years. Winne Madikizela-Mandela (born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela is our icon of the month, great it is also her birthday month.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela on 26 September 1936) is a South African activist and politician who has held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women’s League. She is a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee. She became interested in politics while working at the hospital. She was particularly influenced by the research she had carried out in Alexandra Township to establish the rate of infantile mortality, which stood at 10 deaths for every 1,000 births.

In the mid-1950s, she became involved in the African National Congress (ANC). In 1957, she met Nelson Mandela. At the time he was on trial, along with 155 other people, in the now infamous Treason Trial following the civil disobedience campaigns of the early 1950s. They were married on 19 June 1958 in a Methodist service in the Transkei, after which Winnie settled in Mandela’s home in Soweto.

Important of all the major figures who came to global prominence during the South African liberation struggle, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was seen as the most at home in the world of celebrity culture, and for many of the years just before Mr. Mandela’s release from 27 years in prison, she was his public face, bringing word of his thoughts and his state of mind. She was offered academic honours abroad.

Due to her political activities, Winnie was regularly detained by the South African government. She was tortured, subjected to house arrest, kept under surveillance, held in solitary confinement for over a year and banished to a remote town. She emerged as a leading opponent of apartheid during the later years of her husband’s imprisonment (August 1963 – February 1990).

For many of those years, she was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area, except for the times she was allowed to visit Robben Island. Beginning in 1969, she spent eighteen months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. It was at this time that Winnie Mandela became well known in the West. She organised local clinics, campaigned actively for equal rights and was promoted by the ANC as a symbol of its struggle against apartheid.


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