Mother of the Nation, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, tragically passed away on Monday after a long illness. Here are some interesting facts about Mama Winnie…

1. Nomzamo Winfreda Zanyiwe Madikizela was born on 26 September 1936, in a remote village called eMbongweni in the Eastern Cape.

2. Winnie is the fourth child of nine children, she had seven sisters and one brother.

3. Both her parents were teachers. Columbus, her father, was a history teacher and her mother Gertrude taught domestic science. Her mum died when she was nine years old. Winnie and her eight siblings were separated and sent to live with different relatives.

4. She was top of her class in school and was even head girl at Shawbury High School.

5. Despite education restrictions on black people during Apartheid, she worked hard and received a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg. Later she earned a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand.

6. When Winnie accepted a position at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto after her graduation, she became the first black social worker in South Africa.

7. She met a dashing lawyer, who was also an anti-apartheid activist, in 1957. Nelson Mandela and Winnie were married a year later. They had two daughters during their marriage, Zenani and Zindzi.

8. She was fired from her job at Baragwanath Hospital because of her activism as a member of the ANC.

9. When Winnie wore traditional tribal dresses to the courthouse during Mandela’s treason trial, authorities outlawed the dress. In retaliation, she wore the ANC’s gold, green, and black colours instead.

10. Mama Winnie spent 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. All she had in her cell was a bucket, a plastic bottle for three glasses of water, and a mug.

11. When she was released she went on to organise the Black Women’s Federation and the Black Parents’ Association.

12. Because of her continued activism, she was banished and confined to the small Free State town of Brandfort.

13. Winnie stood by Mandela when he was released from prison. Their relationship was strained and they divorced in March 1996.

14. Mama Winnie played a huge political role in the ANC Women’s League, and continued to support them throughout the years.

15. She celebrated her 80th birthday in style with a glamorous ceremony at the Belmont Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.


Pictures: Twitter and Facebook


Article written by

Nidha Narrandes

Nidha Narrandes is a food-obsessed travel addict with 21 years of journalism experience. Her motto - Travel. Eat. Repeat. She is happiest on a road to nowhere without a plan. A masterchef at home, she can't do without chilli - because chilli makes the world a tastier place.