[WATCH] Poet @lebomashile says the mainstream western media’s depiction of #WinnieMandela should be a lesson to black women everywhere to be the custodians of their own memory because “through racist and sexist eyes we will all either be monsters or invisible”. Courtesy #DStv403 pic.twitter.com/nd9EgLQ1kq
— eNCA (@eNCA) April 3, 2018
In the wake of her death, Black South Africans are doing their best to protect the memory and legacy of revered anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela.
Mandela died Monday, April 1, at the age of 81. The woman who many South Africans described as the “Mother of the Nation” and a champion for the nation’s Black majority passed away peacefully, “surrounded by her family and loved ones,” relatives said in a statement.
Mandela, the second wife of activist Nelson Mandela, made quite the career fighting against South Africa’s white minority. Her reputation was muddied by scandal, however, including a 1991 conviction for kidnapping and assault. But many South Africans say they will not allow her memory to be sullied by racists who chose to focus in on her transgressions rather than her toil on behalf of Black South Africans.
“The mainstream Western media’s depiction on Winnie Mandela should be a lesson to Black women everywhere to be the custodians of their own memory, because through racist and sexist eyes we will all either be monsters or invisible,” South African poet Lebogang Mashile wrote in a tweet amid news of Mandela’s death.
During an appearance on South Africa’s eNCA network, Mashile said she wrote the tweet in response to a Reuters article that chronicled Mandela’s fall from “Mother” of South Africa to the “mugger” of South Africa.
“I was infuriated by that,” she said. “I just realized how relentless racism and sexism are. The same forces that sought to trample her while she was alive are now seeking to trample her memory and cannonize her as a monster.”
“She was so much more that whatever her flaws were,” Mashile added, pointing out how society allows male leaders to be flawed but doesn’t extend the same courtesy to female leaders.
Several critics also took to Twitter to voice their frustration over attempts by racists and the western media to soil the late activist’s memory.
Racists that will spew bile and ridicule #WinnieMandela will be called out!
We will make it our personal missions to track you down especially if you're in South Africa! pic.twitter.com/KNzprqF0xQ
— Tumi Sole (@tumisole) April 2, 2018
De Klerk oversaw the apartheid killing machine. He finally did 1 reasonable thing under great duress. He became a hero & was awarded a Nobel Prize- an insult to Mandela who had to share it with him. Now, Mam’ #WinnieMandela is being remembered for her faults not her toil? Wow.
— Sisonke Msimang (@Sisonkemsimang) April 2, 2018
I have no patience for people spewing vile untruths about Mama #Winnie Mandela today. Don't even try me, not today satan.
— Milani 🇿🇦 (@milanison) April 3, 2018
Every time we celebrate & honour Mama Winnie Mandela there's always those that bring up that she killed or ordered the killing of 14 year old Stompie Seipei / Moeketsi (RIP)
— Katleho (@KatlehoMK) March 22, 2018
News pointing out #Winnie's controversies is so revolting…. She deserves a much more honour than any controversy. History didn't do her justice. And I believe she played a vital role in Nelson Mandela's political career. Africa has lost a warrior for sure. #RIPMamaWinnie
— halisco 🇳🇪🇳🇪 (@haliscolb) April 2, 2018
Mandela will be laid to rest at an official national funeral on April 14.