Carol Ofori: 'You will be sorely missed Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela'

Carol Ofori: 'You will be sorely missed Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela'

"There was something about this woman. The way she walked, the smile she wore, the black outfit that screamed control and power," says Carol.

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When I saw on social media on Monday that Mama Winnie Mandela had passed, I became rather sad. Even though I had never met her, turning the pages of her autobiography 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 made me feel close to her and it was like I had sat down and enjoyed a coffee with her.

The pain she suffered, emotionally, physically, and psychologically at the hands of the apartheid government is tearful and as I would turn the pages I would ask myself over and over again if I were in her position, would I show such strength and resilience?

Read: Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dies at 81

I remember the first time I saw Mama Winnie on the television. It was 1990 and my mom was glued to the screen with excitement because Nelson Mandela was being released from prison. At the time, we lived in Soweto and I remember the sounds of exhilaration that echoed the streets. People were singing and dancing and expressing pure joy. 

I watched the TV as a man and a lady emerged from what seemed like a large gate. Little did I know how iconic that moment would be in the history of South Africa and in the history of the world. The lady next to Madiba was beautiful, rocked a stellar afro, and kept raising a clenched fist in the air. There was something about this woman. The way she walked, the smile she wore, and the black outfit that screamed control and power. At my naive age, I had no idea what that woman had been through, standing by a man who the government of that time tried to brainwash people to believe was a terrorist.

Fast forward a few years later, we would all learn that the power couple that was Nelson and Winnie Mandela were filing for a divorce. This shocked many people and left others wondering what could have gone wrong. As much as Mama Winnie was a struggle icon and stalwart, she was also surrounded by controversy. She was also a very controversial leader with legal problems and criminal convictions that marred elements of her heroic essence. However, this did not stop many loving her and looking up to her.

Also read: Thandolwethu's heartfelt tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Love her or hate her, what we do know is several movies have been made about her remarkable life. We first saw American actress Tina Lifford portray her in a television film called Mandela and De Klerk, later to be portrayed by top British actresses Sophie Okonedo and Naomi Harris in two other films. South African veteran actress Terry Pheto also portrayed Mama Winnie in the TV series Madiba, while American Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson had the privilege of playing her in the 2011 film Winnie. The fact that her story has been told so many times when she was still alive only speaks volumes about what more stories will be told.  

On East Coast Breakfast this morning, we spoke to businesswoman and socialite Sorisha Naidoo to find out how she felt about losing a close friend and mother figure. Listen to the interview below:

Some have adored her, misunderstood her, or even disliked her for what she stood for. For me, what I am truly moved by is that she was a woman who stood for something, and powerfully so. 

Mama Winnie will be laid to rest on the 14th of April 2018 in Soweto. My heart goes out to her family during this difficult time. 

Also read: Celebrities pay tribute to Mam’ Winnie Mandela

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