Editor’s Note: Over the next few days we’ll be curating the tributes and thoughts of African feminists about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (26th September 1936 – 2nd April 2018), her life and activism.
RIP Winnie Mandela, you indomitable spirit, sleep tight. You live on.
Here is Winnie in her own words: “The overwhelming majority of women accept patriarchy unquestioningly and even protect it, working out the resultant frustrations not against men but against themselves in their competition for men as sons, lovers and husbands. Traditionally the violated wife bides her time and off-loads her built-in aggression on her daughter-in-law.So men dominate women through the agency of women themselves.” Let’s share her words before CNN, Sky, BBC and White South African media machinery do it for us.
In reference to Winnie, people should stop saying, ‘obviously she was imperfect’. Erh, imperfection is part of what makes us human or did people forget the memo? Or is it only applicable to black women? Till you can present a perfect human, shut up!!
And then when you say, ‘she is a complicated figure’, do you want her to be simple and bland? The starting point of our discourse about her life should not be that she was ‘an imperfect or complicated figure’, that should be assumed – she is human damn it!
Let’s talk about what she made possible precisely because of her imperfection and complexity. Let’s talk about her challenge to the rule of the father (black and white), let’s talk about her confrontation with white supremacy and her rejection of the Christian notion of truth and reconciliation, let’s talk about how she responded to a violent and violating system and see what lesson we can learn from it today. Yes, let’s talk about how she handled power and agency. But please don’t go be saying she is a complicated and imperfect figure. She deserves better!