The Patron of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, President Thabo Mbeki, the Board and the staff of the Foundation join millions of South Africans in wishing a happy 80th birthday to Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela.
Mama Winnie as she is fondly known, is one of the great heroines of the struggle for liberation. During the dark period of apartheid, she, together with her fellow comrades-in-arms remained in the trenches and served as a guiding light and pillar to the younger generations of activists.
Activists and fellow citizens alike have been and remain deeply indebted to her tenacity, frankness and openness in raising issues which our society cannot but address if we are to realise the objective of the creation of a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and people’s centred society.
Mama Winnie has thus remained true to the teachings of an idiomatic expression of one of our languages, which has it that “Matanzu maswa a tikwa nga malala” – “new branches are supported by the old.”
As we celebrate the gift of her 80th birthday today, we are challenged to ponder over the lessons of the theme of her life as an activist.
In keeping with her fearless and frank character, Mama Winnie recently called for a process of “introspection” to “find out where did we go so wrong” because, as she rightly said, “We cannot pretend we do not have problems and we cannot pretend things are not wrong in our country.”
Very few would question the well-intentioned place from whence this call and honest observation comes. Needless to say that the complexities of bringing about progressive social change require both energy and wisdom. We are therefore challenged to do as Mama Winnie, the old freedom fighter, counsels – to engage in a frank process of introspection to address everything that is going wrong so as not to dishonor the cause of freedom.
To Mama Winnie, we say, Happy 80th Birthday!
Issued by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation
September 26, 2016