|A young Winnie Mandela with her two daughters|
This weekend marks the anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island and there will be countless celebrations of Mr. Mandela and rightly so. But it never sat well with me, the way Winnie was trashed and disposed of by the Mandela camp. Njabul Ndebele’s novel-The Cry of Winnie Mandela- is worth the read because she attempts to present the political, cultural and psychological contexts in which Winnie Mandela evolved, regressed and reemerged in all of her many personas. Was she involved in egregiously offensive behavior-I believe so? Should she be held accountable? Definitely ! But she was the face of the anti-apartheid movement for so long, for so many of us and she galvanized us into action. That counts for something. So, on this day, on the eve of my own fiftieth birthday, when I recall how Winnie inspired me as a young girl to care about South Africa and political and economic justice, I give a shout out to Winnie because it’s damn hard being a mother to a movement and wife to an icon who was not in your bed.
Here’s a link to a 2004 review of The Cry of Winnie Mandela which appeared in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/apr/24/featuresreviews.guardianreview19
Here is an insightful interview with Winnie Mandela: