Rev Jesse Jackson on Winnie: 'She never stopped fighting, she never stopped serving'

Reverend Jesse Jackson. (Gallo Images)
Reverend Jesse Jackson. (Gallo Images)

American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson has visited the home of fallen South African liberation icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

He told journalists outside the home on Friday that the US Congress had passed a resolution to honour Madikizela-Mandela's life.

"She never stopped fighting, she never stopped serving," Jackson said.

He said Madikizela-Mandela had taken South Africa's fight for liberation across the globe, explaining they knew very little about the human rights violations until she became the face of the struggle.

"We didn't know [what was happening with] Mandela, but we knew he was alive because his heart was Winnie's heart." 

READ: Winnie taught me that politics was not for sissies – Patricia de Lille

The American civil rights icon spoke about the many times he had engaged with Madikizela-Mandela, recalling his first visit to South Africa during the 1970s.

He credited Madikizela-Mandela for giving birth - not only to the liberation movement, by becoming the face of the struggle - but also defended her against those who have been critical of her legacy.

"Those who are on the sidelines have clean uniforms and those... playing on the field have blood on their uniform," he said, using a football analogy.

"Clearly, she gave birth to this movement," he remarked.

Madikizela-Mandela's body is due to return to her home on Friday afternoon. Soweto residents have joined throngs of people who've lined the streets outside her home to form a guard of honour.

The liberation icon, better known as the Mother of the Nation, will be laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Cemetery on Saturday.

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