An activist who cared: Winnie Mandela: Never Half-Stepping on the Road to Freedom

By Linn Washington, Jr.

In many ways Winnie Mandela – the iconic South African anti-apartheid activist – was the appropriate choice for keynote speaker at the historic October 1997 ‘Million Woman March’ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Winnie Mandela, the second and best-known wife of the legendary leader Nelson Mandela, courageously confronted issues from racism to sexism, classism to capitalism. Those issues were embedded in the impetus for staging the Million Woman March, an event that drew over a million predominately black females from around America to Philadelphia.

Winnie Mandela defied demands to capitulate to the dictates of the powerful. She bowed to neither South Africa’s once apartheid government nor bigwigs of the party that succeeded the apartheid government: the ANC, the African National Congress that her husband Nelson once headed.

MWM organizers also defied demands to capitulate. Organizers endured criticism for failure to surrender their vision to other black women who critics in positions of power deemed were better situated to lead that event because they were ‘more respectable and better known.’

And Winnie Mandela maintained an unwavering commitment to uplifting those who were left out. MWM organizers shared Mandela’s commitment to the have-nots and like her, identified with the ‘grassroots.

Winnie Mandela was a voice for the ‘little people.’ That posture often ran Winnie Mandela afoul of international power brokers and forces inside South Africa (both white and black) who were intent on maintenance of an apartheid-like economy. That inequitable status quo has left large segments of South Africa’s non-white populations profoundly impoverished.

During the decades long imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and the outlawing of the ANC inside South Africa, Winnie Mandela became both a face of the anti-apartheid struggle and an active participant in actions to end white minority rule in South Africa. The apartheid government once held Winnie Mandela in solitary confinement for nearly 500-days. Further, she endured a government-ordered banishment to a rural location that lasted ten years.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died on April 2, 2018 at the age of 81 after a long illness.

Mandela still lived in Soweto, a racially segregated township outside of Johannesburg during apartheid once known internationally as the epicenter of the anti-apartheid struggle.

For the rest of this article by LINN WASHINGTON, JR. in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/3853

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