Embed from Getty Images

By Heart FM News

Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela has passed away at the age of 81, after a prolonged illness.

The struggle stalwart died peacefully in a Johannesburg hospital on Monday afternoon.

In a statement issued by the Mandela family; Mama Winnie has been called one of the greatest icons of the struggle against Apartheid.

She sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela leaves a contested legacy.

Married to Nelson Mandela at just 22, after a whirlwind romance, based on love – their relationship was also contextualized by the Revolution.

He was already accused of High Treason, with the death penalty a realistic possibility.

Yet they had two children together, spoke positively of the future, and she was unflinching in her support of him through the trial and the verdict of life in prison.

She became the visible face of the ANC – a fiery speaker who variously faced detention, torture, and house arrest.

Her defiance of the Apartheid state despite this inspired millions through the 70’s and 80’s.

But the late 80’s also saw her endorse of mob justice by “necklacing”, and – revelations implicating her in the abduction and torture of children … including, the murder of teenager Stompie Moeketsi.

In the 90’s, revelations that she’d been unfaithful to Mandela also dented her image.

More recently, her endorsement of Julius Malema’s EFF as revolutionaries, and support of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC president also complicate the understanding of her later years.

But in the long run, Winnie Mandela will be remembered as a strong woman who stood by her husband, and her people, through all the horrors that an evil regime used to try to break her.

To millions, she will remain the Mother of the Nation.

Image: Mbeki Foundation