Thabo Mothibi, Managing Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
NEC members (Sifiso Buthelezi, Derek Hanekom, Susan Shabangu, Collen Maine, Alvin Botes)
REC and BEC members
Leaders of the ANCVL, ANCWL and ANCYL
The residents of Galeshewe
Today we are gathered here to pay tribute and homage to one distinguished member of the extra-ordinary generation of freedom fighters in South Africa.
Since the democratic breakthrough in 1994 we have with increased frequency had to work this route of paying final tributes and respects to members of the generation that struggled against apartheid.
We come here this afternoon with our hearts heavy in mourning one that was so special to that generation and so endeared by the current generation of young activists.
There is so much that is said about Mama Winnie and the difficult struggle she waged against the apartheid regime. Her life concretely epitomizes the saying that “the struggle is not a bed of roses”. The apartheid regime unleashed all its might on her: put her in solitary confinement, tortured her, embarked on a vicious campaign of misinformation against her, banished her, and terrorized her family.
All these vicious attacks on her were meant to break her spirit and thereby breaking the backbone of the South African struggle. Mama Winnie never blinked, her revolutionary spirit and eagerness remained intact and she never betrayed the cause of freedom. She stood firm as a concrete tower. She learned from those that came before her that the cause of freedom is too dear to be betrayed.
Comrade Winnie was an activist and a freedom fighter in her own right and she was the face and pillar of the resistance struggle inside the country. She refused to go into exile and asserted that she wanted to be with the people in their daily struggles against apartheid regime. Here, comrades, we pay our last respects to a life dedicated to freedom and service.
Mama Winnie could be better understood by viewing the historical trail of women activists within congress politics that influenced her outlook and fierce opposition to apartheid and patriarchy.
These were great women of stature and extra-ordinary commitment to the ideals of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa. Amongst them I can mention comrades Charlotte Maxeke, Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Frances Baard, Mietta Seperepere, Ruth Mompati. These are the women who handed the baton over to Mama Winnie and she never betrayed them.
Paying tribute to Charlotte Maxeke after her passing-on in 1939, comrade President General, Rev Zaccheus Richard Mahabane, said that “her heroic deeds stamped her as an extra-ordinary capable leader, as a master and an artists of the struggle against white domination”.
In paying tribute to Lilian Ngoyi (the first woman to be elected into the ANC NEC) in March 1980 OR Tambo said “in comrade Lilian Ngoyi we always looked for inspiration – inspiration to struggle, inspiration in tenacity, inspiration in intransigence towards the enemy and inspiration for freedom”
In paying tribute to Mama Albertina Sisulu in June 2011, the former President of the ANC, Nelson Mandela, reflected “Through your selflessness and dedication, through your moral authority and sincere humanity, during and after the struggle you rightly earned to be mother of all our people”.
These are amongst the many iconic women that influenced and shaped the political outlook of Mama Winnie. As comrade Charlotte Maxeke, comrade Winnie’s life is graced by historic struggles that made her the master and artist of the struggle against white domination during the difficult times when the ANC leaders where either prisoned or in exile. She was the key figure that held the balance for the struggle for liberation in South Africa.
Like comrade Lilian Ngoyi, comrade Winnie was an inspiration to many of us to continue the fight for freedom. Mama Winnie’s legacy and forthrightness should inspire us in our struggle to ensure an economically just society. This speaks to our programme for radical economic transformation to address the past injustices.
Like comrade Mama Sisuslu, comrade Winnie’s selfless sacrifice to the struggle and her sincere humanity made her the mother the of the nation. She was one of the revolutionaries who was immediately liked by the people for her simplicity, her character, her naturalness, her comradely attitude, her personality and her originality.
The country will miss her critical and unflinching voice for the downtrodden and the poor. She recently stood up in defense of the homeless and fought along the civil society movements for the universal access to ARV drugs.
The pouring-in of messages of condolences after her passing demonstrates that our people are grateful for her sacrifices and bravery. In solidarity with the revolutionary struggles that characterized Mama Winnie, we must raise higher and ever higher the revolutionary banner and principles of our movement, and those principles are:
• Collective leadership,
• Democratic centralism,
• Self-cultivation, and
• Hard work.
As a revolutionary, Mama Winnie had a boundless faith in these principles which constitute the essence of our revolutionary morality. She had boundless faith in the consciousness on human beings. She saw, with absolute clarity, that the moral impulse is fundamental in the construction of a democratic society. So comrades, in her honor we must fight to recover the moral high ground of Mama Winnie’s movement.
In this moment of remembrance, let us lift our spirits and with great optimism take up the struggle for the poorest of the poor.
If we wish to express what we expect ANC leaders to be, let them be like Mama Winnie.
If we wish to express what we expect ANC members to be, let them be like Mama Winnie.
If we wish to express what we want the future generation to be, let them be like Mama Winnie.
If we wish to say what we want our children to be, let them be like Mama Winnie.
Long live the fighting spirit of Mama Winnie!!!
By Dr. Zamani Saul (ANC Provincial Chairperson, Northern Cape)
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