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“Mother of the Nation”: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in pictures

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, one of the most fearless Apartheid struggle leaders, was known for her militancy and speaking truth to power. She remained resolute in leading the resistance against the Apartheid regime, earning her the moniker, “Mother of the Nation” for her leading role in the political struggle. We look at some moments in her life in pictures.



Winnie MadikizelaMandela, (born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela) was born in a small village in Pontoland, South Africa on 26 September 1936. Her parents, Columbus and Gertrude, were teachers.

Winnie later moved to Johannesburg to study social work and became politically conscious while practicing as a social worker. She was exposed to the harsh realities of the Apartheid segregation and racist policies and their effect on the Black population, who were her primary patients.

Winnie later met and married anti apartheid stalwart, African National Congress (ANC), activist and leader, Nelson Mandela and the couple were separated after Mandela was imprisoned for his political activism. She joined the ANC Women’s League and the Federation of South African Women, and participated in numerous campaigns.

Madikizela-Mandela dedicated her life to fighting racial inequality and the Apartheid regime’s racial segregation policies. After leading a series of protests, Winnie’s political activism culminated in her arrest on several occasions and imprisonment. She remained resolute in leading the resistance against the Apartheid regime, earning her the moniker, “Mother of the Nation” for her leading role in the political struggle.


Read: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: revolutionary who kept the spirit of resistance alive

At one time she was banished to the Afrikaner dominated town of Brandfort in the Free State where she was dumped with her youngest daughter, Zinzi. The house had no floors or ceilings nor did it have running water or electricity. She used the time of her banishment to go into White owned shops empowering the shop-keepers with political ideologies. Although the order had given her the option of moving to Swaziland or Transkei, she chose to stay in South Africa fighting for the liberation of her people.

After the fall of Apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela has held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women’s League. She is a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

She remained resolute and critical in speaking on fundamental issues on governance, human rights, poverty, and social justice issues.

Winnie died on the 2nd of April at the age of 81 at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.


A picture taken on February 11, 1990 shows Nelson Mandela (C) and his then-wife Winnie raising their fists and saluting cheering crowd upon Mandela’s release from the Victor Verster prison near Paarl. Photo: ANP/AFP Alexander Joe


The Mozambican sculptor Alberto Chissano (right) with Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Chissano’s daughter Cidalia in Museu Galeria Chissano, Matola, Mozambique. 1990.Photo: Wiki commons


Winnie Madikizela-Mandela carved her own political identity in the struggle for freedom.


Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela 80th birthday celebrations held at Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. (Photo: GCIS)/Flickr


Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa attends Winnie Madikizela-Mandela 80th birthday, 14 Sep 2016
Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and EFF leader Julius Malema share a light moment at the 80th birthday celebrations of Winnie Madikizela Mandela held at Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. (Photo: GCIS)/Flickr


Transport of former President Mandela’s remains to Eastern Cape, 14 Dec 2103 Graca Machel and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the arrival of the remains of former President Nelson Mandela at Mthatha Airport. (Photo: GCIS)


South Africa President Jacob Zuma (2L), the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela Madikizela (L), and the widow of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel (3L), sit by the coffin of South African former president Nelson Mandela during his funeral ceremony in Qunu on December 15, 2013. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ODD ANDERSEN.


Winnie Madikizela-Mandela visits the mother of Simphiwe Mahori who was shot dead by a Somali shopowner while allegedly attempting to rob the shop. His killing is believed to have ignited the recent looting. Photo: eNCA / Dianne Hawker.

Winnie Mandela and EFF Leader Julius Malema at the funeral service of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada. (Photos GCIS)


Struggle Veteran Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Gauteng Premier David Makhura during the people’s march against xenophobia. (Photo: GCIS)/Flickr


Winnie Mandela visits Sheffield Road, Cape Town. Photo: Slum Dwellers International/Flickr