On the April 6, 2018, the revolution was nationalised. At first, we thought only South African women would heed the call to wear #AllBlackWithADoek in honour of the great stature, power and boldness that represented Mama Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela-Mandela, the mother of the nation. But it was bigger than us.
As images of beautiful black women in all shapes and sizes, donning their colourful doeks – some simply tied and others extravagant – streamed in on social media faster than we could imagine, it became clear that a global movement had been started. And so it should have been. Mama Winnie Mandela was a global figure. She was a force.
Though she chose to live a humble life amongst the people of Soweto, her influence spread far and wide across all the corners of the earth. As women from different countries and continents continued posting pictures with the hash tags #IamWinnieMandela and #AllBlackWithADoek, the impact of her death on women across the world struck the heart a million times. Her name carries the weight of the women of the world on it. Her presence validated our continued fight for gender rights in an ever-oppressive patriarchal society. She was not simply Nelson Mandela’s wife; she was much, much more than that. She was a relentless spirit, a candle in the dark that could never be blown out.
Try, they did.
They tried to kill her, they tried to silence her, they detained her, tortured her, brutally separated her from her children, subjected her to banning orders, sent her into solitary confinement, but still they could not kill her. They didn’t understand that she was not in the flesh; she was in the Spirit. Every time they thought they were finished with her, still she rose. In the words of legendary poet Maya Angelou, "You may write me down in history, with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise”.
Winnie Mandela will never die. If they could not kill her in life, they certainly will never kill her in death. She will continue to multiply, in me, in the women that see themselves in her. She will continue to multiply in our daughters, in our missions, in our destinies. She will continue to multiply in the rebelliousness of women who dare to challenge the status quo, who do not scale back but surge forward. She will continue to multiply until the world has fully and truly heard her voice that will continue to speak in spirit.
Her spirit is embedded in every doek that we wear in her honour. In the pride of our raised fists. In the fury and sorrow in our eyes. In our beating hearts filled with angst.
We salute you with words that will never be enough. We salute you with songs that will never be enough. In memory that will never be enough. We will never be enough to fully contain you, giant of our time.
We humbly ask you to accept our gestures, though small they may be.
We salute you Mbokodo. Ntombi yase Bizana eTranskei. Oh Madikizela, ngutyana, msuthu, msengeshe, nqwanda, phapha, makhalendlovu. Oomalandlelwa yintombi ithi ndizeke noba awunankomo.