History April 02, 2019 at 07:10 am

6 times Winnie Mandela stood strong in the face of apartheid

Farida Dawkins | Contributor

Farida Dawkins April 02, 2019 at 07:10 am

April 02, 2019 at 07:10 am | History

Winnie Mandela carrying the coffin of a dead comrade

Winnie Mandela, born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela, was more than Nelson Mandela’s former wife.  She was a staunch supporter of her then husband’s cause and was all but passive in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.  Keep reading to learn about the six times Mandela stood strong in the face of apartheid before her death on April 2, 2018.

Her right to life and liberty was stripped away

In 1964 when Nelson Mandela was sentenced to prison, Mandela was banned by the authorities in South Africa making her unable to work, have a social life or be mobile. This drastically affected her livelihood and that of her two children.

Winnie Mandela…thegatvolblogger


In 1969 Mandela was jailed for 18 months, spending 13 months in solitary confinement. Even after the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, she continued to fight against the abolishment of apartheid. Of her experience, she wrote “what changed me, what brutalized me so much that I knew what it is to hate,” as reported by The New York Times.

Portrait of a young Winnie Mandela…South African History Online


Nomzamo meaning ‘she who must endure trials’ in her native Xhosa did just that while being tortured and mistreated for wanting her people to be released under the thumb of white rule.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during her exile in Brandfort in 1977…GALLO-IMAGES/ Peter Magubane


Because of her involvement in anti-apartheid activities, in 1976, Mandela was displaced to a rural area.

Winnie Mandela as ANC stalwart…SA Breaking News

Africa National Congress

As the lead figure of the South African political party, Mandela was an instrumental force in the oppression imposed by many white South Africans.

Winnie Mandela…Peril of Africa

Mandela United Football Club

Her influence over young South African men in their various townships inspired some of them to form a group which served as her personal bodyguards.

The “Mother of the nation” as she was called by her supporters was born in the village of Mbongweni Bizana, Pondoland. At the age of nine, her mother died and this caused the subsequent split between her and her siblings. Later, she earned a degree in social work – relinquishing a chance to go to the United States and instead chose to become the first social worker employed at Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.

In 1956 she earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand. In the before mentioned year, she met Nelson Mandela while still being married to Evelyn Mase.  She and Mandela had two children – Zenani and Zindziwa. They were married for almost four decades before finally divorcing in 1996.  They remained on cordial terms until his death in 2013.


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