Reverend Jesse Jackson: Winnie was an emancipator and liberator

Reverend Jesse Jackson visited the home of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Soweto this morning to pay his respects. 

“In the darkest hour, the source of global light was cast by Winnie,” said the United States civil rights activist near the gated entrance to her home. Members of uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) sang struggle songs on the pavement leading up to the house as Jackson passed by.

The nation will pay its final respects this morning at the funeral in Orlando Stadium before she is laid to rest in Fourways Memorial Park.

In a 2013 article he wrote for the Guardian remembering former president Nelson Mandela, Jackson pointed to similarities between the fight for human rights in South Africa and the United States, mentioning the 1960 Greenville march that occurred shortly after the Sharpeville massacre.

He said when he met the late Mandela, they formed an “everlasting relationship.” From his personal relationship with the Mandelas, he remembers Winnie as not only Mandela’s counterpart, but also as an individual freedom fighter.

“Mandela’s heartbeat was Winnie’s heartbeat [but] she was the rock, she was the strength, the character, the personality that kept us in the national news and she deserves great respect.”

Speaking to the media outside the house on Saturday morning, the Reverend, who took part in the marches from Selma to Montgomery and fought for human rights in the United States, said he saw Madikizela-Mandela as a survivor and a fellow freedom fighter. He commended her strength after she was banished to Brandfort in 1977, “survived through the assassination of Chris Hani, the Sharpeville Massacre and jailings”. He said she deserved the “utmost respect” and that she would go on “to be with the great martyrs of the ages.”

Walking down the driveway before making his way to Orlando Stadium, Jackson gave his final words on how he will remember her: “She was a freedom fighter, an emancipator, a liberator. She was the mother of South Africa.”

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