10 Powerful Quotes By Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

 As Africa continues to mourn the giant revolutionary powerhouse, Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela-Mandela or Mam' Winnie as she's affectionately known, we look back at some of the most remarkable quotes by the Mother of the Nation. Before we proceed, since the 81 year-old's passing on Monday, we have been exposed to some of the most racist and sexist views which reinforce the danger of a single story.

I know we live in a world where white supremacy and misogyny are the order of the day but the past few days have displayed these two evils to the maximum. However, we refuse to dignify platforms whose objective is to blatantly undermine her pivotal role in the struggle and liberation of her people. The reaction which has been through name calling amongst other labels, is a true reminder of how society will stop at nothing to silence Black Women especially those who challenge the status quo and oppressive systems. How men are forgivable and women are disposable. In the words of Malcom X, "If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."

This particular statement reinforces how mainstream western and some South African media are reporting on the deceased. This serves as a typical case study of why telling our stories and re-writing our history is paramount, because the erasure of Black Women in history is too common a thing; often shown through magnifying their flaws and downplaying their contribution. The vilification that has been portrayed the past few days begs for reflection; reflecting on who writes our history? What is their motive? How do they depict our stories and our heroes? What are kids being taught in their history classes? Questions that need serious tackling.

 One thing you will pick up from these quotes (if you didn't know already), Mam' Winnie was woke way before the word itself was contextualised.

 On women: 

 "To those who oppose us, we say, ‘Strike the woman, and you strike the rock".

  On patriarchy and its nature in society: 

“The overwhelming majority of women accept the patriarchy and protect it. Traditionally, the violated wife offloads her aggression onto the daughter-in-law. Men dominate women through the agency of women themselves.”

 On breaking the chains of oppression: 

 "If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves. Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we co-operate with other groups. Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority."

  On standing her ground: 

"I am not fighting to be the country's First Lady. In fact, I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone."

  On her relationship with Mandela: 

"I have a good relationship with Mandela. But I am not Mandela's product. I am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy."

 On fighting for her identity: 

"Suddenly I’ve lost my identity...I am going to fix them. I will fight them and I will establish my own identity.’ I deliberately did that. I said I was not going to bask in his shadow and be known as ‘Mandela’s wife’; they were going to know me as Zanyiwe Madikizela. I said, I will not even bask in his politics. I am going to form my own identity because I never did bask in his ideas.’ I had my own mind. I realised that, if you are married you lose your identity completely. I became a nobody and I had grown up walking tall in my home.”

  On being unapologetic for fighting apartheid: 

“I’m not sorry. I will never be sorry. I would do everything I did again if I had to. Everything.”

To all those who have been involved in keeping her legacy alive when she was alive, be it through art, activism or academia, Thank You. Keep it up. Not forgetting Black Women activists who for the past days have been at the forefront of re-shaping Mam' Winnie's narrative in the struggle. We see you. We salute you.

 A revolutionary. A non-conformist. An icon. A matriarch. Lala ngoxolo Mama WeSizwe.
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