• Mondli Makhanya: We must not want to be Winnie

    From Steve Hayes@21:1/5 to All on Mon Apr 9 08:53:43 2018
    XPost: za.politics, za.misc, alt.obituaries
    XPost: soc.rights.human

    Mondli Makhanya: We must not want to be Winnie

    Mondli Makhanya 2018-04-09 00:01


    A story that is not often told about the weekend of Nelson Mandela’s
    release from prison is the one about the desperate quest to find his
    wife the night before he was freed.

    When then president FW de Klerk caught everyone by surprise by
    announcing Mandela’s release on the Saturday, there was a scramble to
    get the leadership of the Mass Democratic Movement to Cape Town as
    soon as possible. Funds were quickly sourced to charter a flight to
    the Cape so that everyone would be on the ground to do enough planning
    to make Madiba’s release on the Sunday the kind of dignified and
    historic affair that it should be.

    But there was a problem.

    Winnie Mandela, as she was then known, was nowhere to be found. Teams
    of comrades scoured Johannesburg into the early hours of the morning
    in search of the Mother of the Nation.

    When she was eventually found, she was in a not-so-nice location, in not-so-good company and in a not-so-good state of mind.

    Even when the aeroplane arrived in Cape Town, she was still in need of
    some good rest so that, by the time she got to Victor Verster Prison,
    Mandela would be able to recognise his spouse and be excited to see

    This obviously necessitated a delay in when she could be taken to him
    and, by extension, when he could eventually walk out of those gates.

    And so the old man twiddled his thumbs, unaware that the frolics of
    the person he loved were partially responsible for delaying his

    There are many who were involved with the logistics of that historic
    day who are still angry with her for being partially responsible for
    the delay in Mandela getting his first taste of freedom.

    They will tell you that, even if it was a delay of a few hours, every
    minute must have felt like ages if you had been inside a prison’s
    walls for 27 years.

    They knew this behaviour by Winnie Mandela was not out of character.
    It was just that, on that day, it had disastrous consequences.

    This story is not often told because this not a pleasant narrative.

    When it comes to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, you can either tell the
    story of a saint or the story of a villain – it is never the story of
    the complete person.

    And so a story such as this one, the story of the coarse
    Madikizela-Mandela, is not a welcome one.

    Let’s start with those who saw her as a villain because they are
    easily dismissible.

    To this lot, the only frame into which Madikizela-Mandela fitted was
    the Moeketsi “Stompie” Seipei kidnapping, the infidelities, the
    incendiary rhetoric and the alleged abuse of finances.

    To them, she would have been a demon even if she performed a miracle
    that made a blind man see.

    Just as problematic is the legion of Madikizela-Mandela cultists who
    refuse to accept that she was a deeply flawed human being; that she
    was a problematic figure in resistance politics and in post-1994
    democratic politics.

    In honouring Madikizela-Mandela, we should not overlook the blemishes
    on her being. Doing so would be denying our own history and how, in
    many ways, she reflected some of the worst flaws of our damaged
    society and the ugliness of our bitter history.

    Madikizela-Mandela must be praised for emerging from the shadow of her
    more prominent and powerful husband.

    At the Rivonia Trial in the early 1960s, while the cameras and
    commentary focused on her beauty and glamour, Madikizela-Mandela was
    projecting an image of courage and indefatigability.

    She became the spokesperson for the revolution that the apartheid
    system was trying to crush.

    In subsequent years – with the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement
    either in exile or in prison – she was to emerge as the primary voice
    of the anti-apartheid forces.

    To the student and scholar movements of the late 60s and 70s, she was
    a pillar of strength.

    She did not succumb to harassment, imprisonment and torture – she just
    got stronger and more defiant.

    This is why the apartheid government was forced to banish her to the
    remote Free State town of Brandfort, a fate as terrible as prison or

    And that is where things seem to have gone horribly wrong.

    It was this period that seems to have irreversibly turned her into the
    wayward individual she became, a waywardness that many are so
    dangerously in denial about.

    It is a common human trait to refuse to acknowledge the deficiencies
    of our leaders and heroes.

    This week, we have seen a deluge of tributes that sought to present
    her as an amalgamation of Queen Nzinga, Mother Theresa, Cleopatra and
    Nandi. This week, the worship will multiply.

    Dare we forget that, in 1989, the leadership of the Mass Democratic
    Movement publicly distanced itself from the so-called Mother of the
    Nation because of the “reign of terror” that she and her Mandela
    United Football Club were conducting in Soweto.

    The football club, which was nothing more than her private vigilante
    gang and whose only association with soccer was its kit, had
    terrorised the township and was almost as feared as the Jackrollers

    Such was the extent of grievance against Madikizela-Mandela and her
    thugs that members of the Congress of SA Students even attempted to
    burn down the Mandela house.

    After numerous attempts to rein her in and put a stop to conduct that undermined the struggle, the leaders had to act.

    Accusing her of abusing the trust and confidence of the people, and
    falling into “conflict with various sections of the oppressed people
    and with the Mass Democratic Movement as a whole”, the leaders said
    her practices had “violated the spirit and ethics” of the movement.

    Madikizela-Mandela’s excommunication by the anti-apartheid movement
    did not come at the whim of an individual or individuals who despised

    An instruction had already come from the ANC headquarters in Lusaka –
    on the authority of no less a person than Oliver Tambo – that her
    criminal gang should be disbanded.

    But because Madikizela-Mandela was, in her view, above the ANC and the
    internal liberation movement, this instruction was ignored.

    This unruly streak had frightened many in liberation circles since Madikizela-Mandela’s return from Brandfort.

    Some celebrated this as a rebellion against patriarchy and chauvinism,
    but it was in fact ungovernability of the highest order.

    At the height of the necklacing phenomenon – which she encouraged with
    her matchboxes and tyres speech – she had defied instructions from
    Lusaka to withdraw her endorsement of the cruel punishment that was
    meted out to suspected traitors.

    Madikizela-Mandela was her own movement. While other leaders worked
    within structures and subjected themselves to such inconveniences as
    attending meetings and being given duties to perform,
    Madikizela-Mandela preferred being the star act who headlined rallies
    and marches.

    The everyday mundanity of organisational work was beneath her.

    Mandela’s release in 1990 rescued the errant Winnie from exile. She
    was back in play.

    In 1991, she was voted onto the national executive committee of the
    unbanned ANC at its first conference in Durban.

    At a time when Nelson Mandela and other senior leaders were navigating
    the rugged road to a negotiated settlement, Madikizela-Mandela was one
    of the discordant voices in the leadership, and she played to the
    militant gallery.

    Paradoxically, this proved fortuitous because the apartheid regime was
    waging a vicious fight against communities with death squads and
    surrogate militias.

    Radical voices were needed to keep the spirit of resistance and hope

    Knowing the person she was, the internal and external leaders were
    united on one thing – limiting her power.

    In 1991, they succeeded in blocking her from becoming president of the
    ANC Women’s League, a position that would have given her power that
    was somewhat independent from the mother body.

    They tried again in 1993, but they failed dismally. She was again
    returned to the position in 1997 – against the wishes of the inner

    That same year, a great effort was made to halt her bid for the deputy presidency of the ANC at the party’s conference in Mafikeng (now
    Mahikeng) in North West.

    So determined were the party grandees to prevent her from taking the
    number two position that they were even prepared to stomach the rise
    of Jacob Zuma, whose corruption and uselessness had already been
    evident in exile and in the KwaZulu-Natal government, where he was
    serving as an MEC for economic development.

    Those sympathetic to her say these efforts were motivated by the fear
    of her feminist sway and the inability of men to tolerate a strong

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The life and legacy of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be debated for
    decades to come. She will be canonised by most and demonised by a
    fringe minority.

    She will be credited with single-handedly keeping the flame of freedom
    alive in the darkest days of apartheid repression.

    Her courage and resilience will be spoken of in high decibels. She
    will be labelled as the most outstanding and the most upstanding among

    The biggest mistake we will make is that we will try to understand her
    in black and white, as either the object of our affections or a figure
    of hate.

    We should neither see her as a villain nor a saint.

    She was just an ordinary human being whose heart was hardened by
    suffering and whose soul was numbed by torture.

    We should not elevate her to the status of a role model who we should
    emulate, as many have been doing since her death.

    None of us should want to be Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

    If we aim to be contributors to a better nation, we should not try to
    be the damaged goods that came back from Brandfort.

    If we want to be good leaders in our respective spaces – be it in a
    stokvel, corporation, political party or sports club – we should
    possess the humility that she so lacked.

    And if we want to make a genuine impact on society, we should avoid
    the temptation of the glory-seeking that defined her.

    By all means, let us thank her for the tremendous sacrifices she made,
    along with her generation of struggle leaders.

    But at no point should any of us want to be her replica.

    Source: https://t.co/jIxsaL7s0e

    Steve Hayes

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  • From Unknown@21:1/5 to Steve Hayes on Fri Jun 8 16:49:29 2018
    XPost: za.politics, za.misc

    On Mon, 09 Apr 2018 08:53:43 +0200, Steve Hayes wrote:

    Mondli Makhanya: We must not want to be Winnie

    Mondli Makhanya 2018-04-09 00:01


    Well, I couldn't afford the time to read the whole article;
    but I put it to TextToSpeech to hear if/when I awake:
    lying down.


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