These Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Quotes Easily Explain Her “Mother Of The Nation” Nickname
The ex-wife of late activist Nelson Mandela died Monday after a long battle with an unnamed illness. She, like her husband, was dedicated to the fight against Apartheid and racial injustice in South Africa. Over the course of her life, she gave many inspirational speeches, rallying activists to stand up for what they believe in. And throughout those speeches, there were tons of quotes from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that will be remembered for ages.
Madikizela-Mandela, aka South Africa's "Mother of the Nation," died at the age of 81, after decades of activism. "Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against Apartheid," the Mandela family said in a statement. "She fought valiantly against the Apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country."
She met Nelson in 1957, according to South Africa's Sunday Times, and had two children with him before he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for treason in 1964. The two divorced in 1996, several years after Nelson was released from prison.
During the time her husband was incarcerated, Madikizela-Mandela herself was placed under house arrest, according to the Sunday Times, and at one point she was exiled to Brandfort, a town in the then-Orange Free State. She was also embroiled in controversy throughout her life.
In 1991, she was sentenced to six years in prison for her involvement in the kidnapping and beating of four young men. Later in 2003, she was convicted of theft and fraud after it was discovered she'd signed documents used to fraudulently obtain bank loans in the name of fabricated employees.
Despite all of this, she continued to be a voice for change in South Africa up until her death.
Here are some of the most inspirational quotes from Madikizela-Mandela.
On Liberating The Country
“We have no guns — we have only stones, boxes of matches and petrol,” Madikizela-Mandela told the crowd at a rally in April 1986, according to the Washington Post. “Together, hand in hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country.”
Why She Kept The Last Name Mandela
When asked why she wouldn't drop her ex-husband's last name after the divorce, Madikizela-Mandela explained the patriarchal country wouldn't allow it, adding "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 Upholding Her Husband's Legacy
"I will not allow the selfless efforts of my husband and his friends to be abandoned,” she said after Nelson was imprisoned. "I will continue the struggle for a free and equal South Africa."
On How She Won't Be Silenced
"They think because they have put my husband on an island that he will be forgotten," Madikizela-Mandela said when her husband was sent to Robben Island, according to Business Insider South Africa. "They are wrong. The harder they try to silence him, the louder I will become."
Why She Became Fearless
"I no longer have the emotion of fear, there is no longer anything I can fear," she said after being repeatedly sent to prison. "There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn't any pain I haven't known.”
On Why South Africa Is 'In Crisis'
"All what we fought for is not what is going on right now," Madikizela-Mandela said last year at the Ahmed Kathrada commemoration ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. "It is a tragedy that he lived and saw what was happening, we cannot pretend like South Africa is not in crisis, our country is in crisis and anyone who cannot see that is just bluffing themselves."
On The Importance Of Solidarity
"It is only when all black groups join hands and speak with one voice that we shall be a bargaining force which will decide its own destiny," she said when speaking out against the Apartheid regime.
Breaking The 'Chains Of Oppression'
"If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves," Madikizela-Mandela is quoted as saying by Business Insider South Africa. "Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we cooperate with other groups. Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority."
People have shown an outpouring of love and appreciation for Madikizela-Mandela's work in the wake of her passing. She will be remembered as an imperfect if not committed advocate for social and racial justice in South Africa, and a beacon for change around the world.