Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Assemblyman Michael Blake on the Passing of Winnie Mandela

On Monday, we remembered the life and remarkable contributions to our world by one of the most resilient, outspoken and independent leaders of our time, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away. Winnie was a symbol of the resistance to apartheid in South Africa.  She will always be remembered as "an advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalized" and "a voice for the voiceless", as aptly described by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Always an equal partner to her former husband, President Nelson Mandela, Winnie was his fiercest supporter and even risked her own freedom for the rights of underrepresented Sisters and Brothers in South Africa.  While Nelson Mandela was imprisoned from 1964 to his release in 1990, she adopted a stronger political role and became internationally known as an advocate for disenfranchised, black South Africans. Her resistance also led to imprisonment in 1969, where she was held for 17 months, 13 of them in solitary confinement.  After enduring brutal torture, her desire for freedom evolved into an unstoppable responsibility to fight against apartheid. She continued her fervent advocacy and was sent once more to jail for five months in 1976 during a black riot in the segregated township of Soweto. Afterward, she was banned to a profoundly conservative white town of Brandfort. Ignoring orders to remain in banishment, Ms. Mandela returned to her home in Soweto in 1985 and assumed leadership during the most violent phase of confrontation against authority in the anti-apartheid movement.

Up until her last days, Winnie Mandela remained active in encouraging others to exercise their rights, as evidenced by her trip to Soweto last month to register people to vote. It is because of this steadfast determination and ardent refusal to excuse injustice and inequality that she remains an admirable figure.  Winnie Mandela bravely ignored the segregated public phones while loudly and proudly speaking up and out against apartheid.

The price of justice is not cheap, as it requires extraordinary personal sacrifice and a firm commitment to a cause.  Winnie Mandela’s life represents these ideals and through her example, we learn what is truly required to be a warrior for justice.

Rest in peace while fighting for justice, Winnie Mandela.

Source: The Office of Assembly Member Michael Blake (District 79)

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