For Winnie

Courage. Conviction. Kindness. Style. Power. Love.

An endless appetite for the subjugated.

A ceaseless No against the wrong.

Bless us who were hurled into your spellbinding orbit.

Pulled in by the everlasting power of your raised fist.


Amandla! An idea first trained on the playgrounds of Pondoland.

Amandla! A practice that stood its ground, alone against the lust of the enemy. Those fingers that could point at an apartheid policeman and render him the sheep that he was, an instrument of hate, his eyes cast down in front of God and her rhetorical question: What are you doing here?

They have no idea who has died.

They have no idea who has died.

They have no idea who has died.

They have no idea who has died.

They have no idea who has died.

They have no idea who has died.

They think it’s somebody’s wife.

They think it’s somebody’s kidnapper and killer.

They think it’s somebody’s lover.

Reducing an ocean to spit.

Did they forget that children grow up and kick history open in search of themselves?

Rev.o.lu.tion.ar.y / adjective: a woman who says No!

I now have a responsibility to fear nothing.

You have shown us the price one pays when they are fearless

May our purses remain open.

How to be a human!

May we use the maps you have buried in the land.

I saw you once shopping at the Oriental Plaza.

Guardian Angels, they are just like us!

I was elated. I smiled and inside I said “molo mama”.

You flashed your mesmerising smile and all I could do was stare.

I knew you I was yours.

They don’t know what they don’t know.

To me you had the heart of a social worker and the embodiment of true Love

To me you are spoken for.

As we learn how to chew food, dream dreams, smile smiles, fight fights, show our teeth in a world without you, may the words and deeds to honour and historicise your beautiful complexity come through the cracks of our broken hearts.

Next week the Mail & Guardian will publish a special commemorative edition on Winnie Mandela

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