Winnie: Mother and spear of the nation

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Chris Hani and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Lusaka in the 1980s Picture: Rashid Lombard
Chris Hani and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Lusaka in the 1980s Picture: Rashid Lombard

Winnie Mandela slaps an imaginary pistol on the table. The smack of her flat hand on the wood reverberates across the empty Chinese restaurant.

“I would shoot her as she walks through the door,” she says. I flinch as if a gunshot has been fired. The conversation becomes one of those things I do not write about, especially because she is referring to Zindzi.

But the context for the conversation about shooting her beloved younger daughter is all important. How did we get to imaginings of filicide on an autumn afternoon in Beijing? Even in death, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela stands tall on a mountain of complexity. So, if we wish to understand her, we have to explore the many layers.

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