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Zenani Mandela’s Speech at Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s Funeral Was Powerful

This past Saturday, the 14th of April, struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was laid to rest.

Family, friends, comrades gathered at Orlando Stadium in Soweto To bid a final farewell to a woman who dedicated her entire life to fighting for the rights of women and people of colour.

1986, Soweto, South Africa Image by © David Turnley/CORBIS

Of the many people who took to the podium to speak about Winnie’s legacy, Naomi Campbell being one of them,  the most poignant speech has to be Zenani Mandela’s – daughter of the late Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela. Her touching speech left nothing untouched – from the vilification of her mother by the Apartheid government and the ANC, to feminism, racism and the endless sacrifices Winnie made as a mother. What stood out most for us, was the powerful message she delivered regarding the struggles of women and the need for us to continue rising up to a society that wants to silence us. Social Media was buzzing throughout her speech and many young women voiced how much they are inspired by mam’ Winnie who throughout her militant political career stated that she wasn’t just “Mandela’s wife”, speaking to her own power as a leader.

Here are a few excerpts from the speech:

” She dared to take on one of the most powerful and evil regimes of the past century, and she triumphed. “

“I had to ask myself: ‘Why had they sat on the truth and waited until my mother’s death to tell it?’ It is so disappointing to see how they withheld their words during my mother’s lifetime, knowing very well what they would have meant to her. Only they know why they chose to share the truth with the world after she departed. I think their actions are actions of extreme cruelty because they robbed my mother of her rightful legacy during her lifetime. It is little comfort to us that they have come out now.”

“Over the past week and a half, it’s become clear that South Africa, and indeed the world, holds men and women to different standards of morality. Much of what my mother has been constantly asked to account for is simply ignored when it comes to her male counterparts. And this kind of double standard acts also to obscure the immense contribution of women to the fight for the emancipation of our country from the evil of apartheid. I say ‘fight’ because the battle for our freedom was not some polite picnic at which you arrived armed with your best behaviour.”

“I hope that the rediscovery of the truth about my mother helps South Africans come to terms with the pivotal role that she, Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela, played in freeing us from the shackles of the system of terrorism and white supremacy known as apartheid.”

“In closing, let me say that when you read popular history about the liberation struggle as it currently stands, you can be forgiven for thinking that it was a man’s struggle and a man’s triumph. Nothing could be further from the truth. My mother is one of the many women who rose against patriarchy, prejudice and the might of a Nuclear-armed state to bring about the peace and democracy we enjoy today.”

 “As she said in her lifetime, ‘I am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy.’ May we learn from her and be inspired by her courage.”

Julius Malema’s brutally honest speech also had people shouting his praises during the emotional funeral proceedings and we are yet to see whether the Cape Town International Airport will be named after the late Mam’ Winnie.