Freedom Fighter Winnie Mandela Dies At 81

(photo credit: bella naija)

Long-time South African anti-apartheid campaigner, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela and former first lady Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died aged 81.

Family spokesman Victor Dlamini confirmed earlier on Monday that Mrs. Mandela “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of the hospital since the start of the year.

Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was born in 1936 in the Eastern Cape – then known as Transkei.

She was a trained social worker when she met her future husband in the 1950s. They went on to have two daughters together.

Winnie and Nelson were married for a total of 38 years, although for almost three decades of that time they were separated due to Mr. Mandela’s long imprisonment.

(Photo credit: Ebony.com)

It was Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela who took his baton after he was jailed for life, becoming an international symbol of resistance to apartheid. She too was jailed for her role in the fight for justice and equality.

To her supporters, she became known affectionately as “Mother of the Nation.”

Due to her political activities, Winnie was regularly detained by the National Party government. She was tortured, subjected to house arrest, kept under surveillance, held in solitary confinement for over a year and even banished to a remote town. She emerged as a leading opponent of apartheid during the later years of her husband’s imprisonment (August 1963 – February 1990).

For many of those years, she was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area, except for when she was allowed to visit her husband at Robben Island. Beginning in 1969, she spent eighteen months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. It was at this time that Winnie Mandela became…