Uhuru-Spirit News


September 16, 2016 | Uhuruspirit

Winnie Mandela at the dinner to celebrate her upcoming 80th Birthday anniversary on September 14, 2016

Anti-apartheid struggle icon and former South African First Lady Winnie Mandela on Wednesday celebrated her upcoming 80th birthday anniversary with members of her family, friends, former comrades, top government officials and leaders of various political parties during a dinner at Mount Nelson hotel in Cape Town.

Mrs. Madikzela-Mandela was born on September 26, 1936.

The event, which was organized by Mandela Legacy was to kick-off month-long celebrations of the life of an extra-ordinary African woman and revolutionary who suffered virulent persecution at the hands of the nefarious apartheid regime.

Winnie Mandela first came to international prominence after her husband, Nelson Mandela, was arrested in 1962. Instead of fleeing from the murderous regime when Nelson Mandela and his other ANC comrades were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, Winnie Mandela took a frontline position in not only campaigning for her husband’s freedom, but also in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

The guest list at the Wednesday dinner included South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, First Lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma‚ Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande, Winnie Mandela’s daughter Zindzi Mandela‚ EFF leaders Julius Malema and Dali Mpofu‚ Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and other politicians‚ musicians and family members of Madikizela-Mandela.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela flanked by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and leader of the opposition EFF Julius Malema at the dinner to celebrate her upcoming 80th Birthday Anniversary on September 14, 2016.

In his tribute Ramaphosa complimented Madikizela-Mandela on her lasting beauty and tenacity. He ended by reciting Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise.

“Many of us remember how constant she was, even when we read about her in the 1950s and 1960s, she was constant, and she remains constant. She has lived a beautiful life and went through victories and setbacks.”

Ramaphosa said that Madikizela-Mandela’s life demonstrated that women cannot be broken.

“She has been a diamond; built to last, built to shine and built never to break.”

He added that she has always been there for people outside of her political life and made examples of how she helped when there were disasters.

“Whenever people faced a challenge, Mama Winnie was among the first to arrive. She did not only give them words but she gave them hope and encouragement and also physical help.”

Ramaphosa thanked Madikizela-Mandela for her leadership and wished her many more years to come.

“From your life we know what it means to stand for justice and to be faithful and loyal, and that women can do it and have been able to play a role in shaping the history of our country. You remain the dream and hope of our future generations.”

“We thank you for your leadership and your suffering, and we will continue to honour you, love you and hold you in high regard.”

Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba said Madikizela-Mandela was like a mother to everyone.

He said she belonged to a generation of freedom fighters that believed in fighting for their country. He ended with wishing her a happy birthday. “It is given to special people to live that long. We wish her peace and joy and eternal happiness. Our love and support will keep her young.”

Before Madikizela-Mandela spoke, her daughter Zindzi Mandela shared stories about how much she had learnt from her.

“I want to say, I can’t imagine what I would have been without you. You held me up and gave me hope even when you knew tomorrow would be dreary. I am so highly motivated and driven and I am grateful to you for some of my genes I got from you.”

“You are the most amazing woman and I am so humbled and honoured to be your daughter.”

Zindzi Mandela, who also shared some of her mother’s personal qualities that many people did not know about, described Winnie Mandela’s love for gardening.

“There are many books written about her‚ documentaries produced and so on. But there are also some parts of her that people don’t know about.

“My mother is a very keen gardener. I for example was two hours late for my wedding because my mother had to water the garden‚” Zindzi said. “But that is my mother‚ she loves to be surrounded by beautiful things and she loves to make beautiful things grow‚ it's just her nature.”

The evening ended shortly after Madikizela-Mandela took to the podium to offer her gratitude towards the guests.

Keeping her speech light-hearted and humorous‚ she nevertheless referred to some of the more serious topics addressed during Parliament sittings - while poking fun at some of the well-known attendees.

“I am honestly not speaking today Julius. I am not going to say one word that’s going to be discussed in Luthuli House.

“Deputy President I am not going to say a thing about Marikana.

“And you Patricia‚ you know the trouble you once put me through in Parliament. One day you storm into Parliament‚ you don’t even get yourself recognised‚ and you said: ‘I know who are the sell-outs here in this house’. And instead of everybody turning and looking at you‚ everybody turned and looked at me‚” Madikizela-Mandela said.

Madikizela-Mandela added that she hoped Malema was “tricking” De Lille when he “gave her all the metros”.

“Because I know you‚ you didn’t mean a word of that‚” she said as her guests‚ including De Lille and Malema‚ broke into laughter once more.

The guest of honour‚ who had surgery on her back in March and April‚ told the room that when she “gets well”‚ she plans to lead a campaign for the widows and orphans of Marikana.

“Amandla!” she shouted when she finished‚ while the guests in unison replied, “Awethu!”

The event was followed by a music concert in honour of Winnie Mandela on Thursday night at Cape Town's Artscape Theatre.

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