Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has not been forgiven for contributing to overthrowing the white supremacist government, writes Matome Sebelebele.
IF ANYTHING, the contempt by which white SA “celebrates” the death of Winnie Madikizela – Mandela affirms that her vilification, humiliation and persecution was never driven by justice, but apartheid hatred for her fierce struggle against white, settler minority rule.
White SA has still not unforgiven Mama Winnie for greatly contributing to overthrowing of their white supremacist establishment. They still curse her for having been an uncontrollable, indestructible and fearless revolutionary that escaped apartheid torture and death to freedom. They hated her for primarily radicalising the militant black youth and teaching them the violent language of revolution, and acts of the oppressed.
Thus the depth of white contempt over her natural death is informed by deep loathing of a strong black woman whose resonance with the youth kept liberation fires burning at the time when apartheid was closest to exterminating black life and its struggles in SA.
For that, Madikizela – Mandela pays even in death. This, because at the heart of white fears is black retribution and white poverty, which they strongly believed Mama Winnie advocated in what Brazilian Paulo Freire termed “pedagogy of the oppressed”.
Whites feared Mama Winnie’s growing influence and greater respect she commanded amongst black youth, because of how they treated her during apartheid that still remains the most barbaric, vile crime against humanity that the world has seen.
At the heart of white hatred of Mama Winnie, is white fear of black rage and savagery of black men and white abhorrence of black lives and their engineered poverty. They feared the anti-apartheid veteran’s influence over a militant black youth could deliver what Malcolm X labelled “dangerous black men who had nothing to lose”.
Resultantly, whites cannot be glorifying Mama Winnie in death as she remained too dangerous for failing to idolise peace in wartime, and for her non-conformist methods of fusing young political life with the violent language of revolution that went against the prevailing timid political narrative of negotiations. They still disliked her for rejecting their post-apartheid negotiated settlements and for exposing its racial fallacies, socio-economic and political defects that guaranteed perpetuation of white supremacy and privilege at the expense of black skins.
Winnie was hated for being the political royalty of the oppressed black skins, and for debunking 1994 political settlement and its Rainbow Nation Project – first as a farce, and secondly as a national tragedy for the oppressed, landless shack dwellers.
It was the struggle heroine’s revolutionary theory and violent language that offended army and policing generals and the white political establishment most, and so did her unconventional methods that unsettled even her comrades, some of whom formed what filmmaker of the movie titled “Winnie”, Pascale Lamche, calls “combined forces of secretive enemies and all-powerful patriarchy” that sought to take Mama Winnie down. And for that, she had to be betrayed by men and women who feared total freedom, and only loved themselves.
Whites despised Mama Winnie for disregarding their preferred weaklings – weak, captured black men and women of SA politics, for the strongest and fearless amongst the oppressed, hence the propagation of lies that she was behind the murder of former Mandela United Football Club member, Moeketsi Stompie Seipei –which was recently discredited by a reformed former national police commissioner George Fivaz last week.
The apartheid propaganda, as revealed by former Stratcom head Vic McPherson and operative Paul Erasmus, concocted anti-Winnie bile that saw her being heavily spied on, bugged, separated and isolated from her husband Nelson Mandela and the ANC because she was “self-willed”, as former National Intelligence Service (NIS) head Niel Barnard revealed in his book, “Secret Revolution: Memoirs of a Spy Boss”.
Admittedly, Mama Winnie made human errors, many of which out of desperation and survivalist instinct but her persecution and public humiliation is unjustified especially compared to the ills of apartheid’s engineers and killers who today enjoy luxury life on South African farmlands and suburban surroundings without carrying the burdens of apartheid sins.
Truth be told, State Capture of the post-apartheid government started right with Nelson Mandela in prison when the white politicians and apartheid security men tasked with Stratcom propaganda surrounded him in prison and beyond. The vilification therefore of Mama Winnie by whites who perpetually glorified the Mandela era as the golden is not incidental.
“Even before the secret talks with Mandela began, we realised that Winnie’s tendency to court controversy and her future role as “Mother of the Nation” had to be handled in some way. Secretly, we hoped that Mandela would have to have a restraining influence on her self-willed and untoward behaviour. If this could be used positively and she became an outspoken proponent of negotiation, we would gain an important ally in the peace process. If such a prominent and radical icon of the struggle were, figuratively speaking, to lay down her weapons, which she had many, the benefits would be enormous as she was an international figure in her own right,” wrote Barnard.
This is truth whitewashed because it was apartheid NIA that spied on Mandela and Mama Winnie, planted agents around her, and spanned propaganda tales in both Afrikaans and English media about Mama Winnie to break Mandela in prison, and isolate his wife from him including banishing her to Brandfort, Free State.
It was NIA and apartheid security that “smuggled” newspapers in prison for Mandela to read the “untoward behaviour” of Mama Winnie to break both the couple’s images as a revolutionary force against apartheid. Barnard successfully made Madiba a bitter man who hated Mama Winnie but lovingly tolerated white men. It was Barnard’s NIA that sought to separate Mandela from him and his comrade, to break him, his marriage and to destroy both his and her image as political icons.
“I warned them (Mandela and them) as we were beginning to talk to the Niel Barnard of the day, even about the negotiation, right at the negotiation tables. I was the one who felt that we over-negotiated and in the process we lost it. I warned at the time that we over-negotiated and truth was we may have lost the land again in the process. Our struggle was a struggle for land. It was all about the return of the land to the rightful owners… the notion of fighting back to get back our land,” Madikizela- Mandela said in one of her televised interviews.
Mama Winnie’s militancy was consistent with the growing radicalisation of the black revolution across the world, especially in America, with the rise of the Black Panther movement Huey Newtown, and other civil rights movement led by Malcolm X. Others included Louis Farrakhan from peaceful protest by Rosa Park and non-violent rhetoric of Martin Luther King jnr. It is equally in line with what King Jnr preached that violence ultimately is used as “the language of the unheard” after failed protests to get the oppressor to listen to the cries of the oppressed.
Much as she is scorned and blamed for giving rise to Julius Malema and his EFF, Mama Winnie was blamed for embracing Peter Mokaba for his violent anti-white songs as illustrated by the former ANC Youth League president’s revolutionary slogan, “Kill the farmer, kill the Boer”, which unsettled both black and white establishments.
Truth is, to conquer a man, you must first conquer his land. And for whites, to maintain ownership and land control, which rose from the bloodied establishment of the Union, and the Union Buildings, as a direct consequence of the political battle over land dispute as captured by the Treaty of Vereeniging in 1902 – any black politician unsettling the land with the violent rhetoric of numbers is vilified, cursed and forcefully written off South African politics.
This is done to ensure the continuity of white supreme power, privilege and domination of black lives, which essentially makes land politics, the single biggest political matter that matters, as Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi aptly puts it in his book, “The Land is ours”, as central to all South African wars.
Therefore racial slurs directed at her, even at death, including labelling her a political witch, who betrayed Mandela, killed Stompie, conducted necklacing of apartheid spies and bedevilled the post-apartheid state, is propaganda enough to send her off.
That’s why they hate Madikizela- Mandela. They fear that sending her off as a true black revolutionary, rare amongst her generation, will reverse the Broederbond 1994 rainbow project. What they do not know is that by contaminating her death (a sacred space for black people), they are essentially multiplying her – as recently seen by the wave of black women in mourning black dress code and doeks.
In the end, the white revulsion of Mama Winnie will have the effects of casting in the “Wakanda Warrior Class” of Angolan Queen Nzinga, Ethiopian Queen Sheba, Ghananian Queen Asantewa, Queen Nandi, Zimbabwean Queen Nehanda, and Zambia Queen Mukaya whilst diminishing their favourite Nelson Mandela imagery amongst the revolutionary class of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Samora Machel, amongst others.
Often is true that the political correctness of the most vilified black leader by the white settler, is that such a vilified is the most feared and truest of the black revolution. And Mama Winnie belongs right there.
Matome Sebelebele is an entrepreneur and MD of Black Rose Connections.