Winnie, please let us love you

2014-10-19 15:00

Nelson Mandela’s final years on earth were marred by rather unseemly behaviour by some of his family members.

Feuding relatives took each other to court and launched stinging tirades against each other.

His grandchildren engaged in cuckoldry and made sordid accusations against each other. His daughters tried to remove his confidants as trustees of his estate. As he lay in a hospital bed, news seeped out about intrafamily wars.

Fortunately, sense got the better of them during the official mourning period. While rumours of behind-the-scenes tensions persisted and made their way on to newspaper pages, the public image was of a clan united in sorrow.

The most heartwarming of these was of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Graça Machel comforting each other. The reading of the will a few months later passed with no recriminations.

South Africa was looking forward to marking the anniversary of his departure in this atmosphere.

But Madikizela-Mandela shattered the peace this week. She filed court papers laying claim to Mandela’s home in Qunu, and is even contesting the legitimacy of their 1996 divorce. In her papers, she stops just short of accusing Mandela of fraudulent behaviour.

By doing this, Madikizela-Mandela has not only spat on Madiba’s memory, but has severely undermined her own standing. She has projected herself as a greedy individual who is even willing to sully Madiba’s name for personal gain.

South Africans’ love and respect for Madikizela-Mandela is such that the nation has been willing to forget her past transgressions and indiscretions. The nation wants to hold her in high esteem and embrace her as its mother.

When her time is up, we want the good memory of the courageous, selfless fighting Winnie to outweigh the negatives that happened when she was weak and vulnerable.

But if she persists with this ill-advised action, she will live her twilight years as a villain.

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