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Gone But Not Forgotten: Celebs Celebrate Winnie Mandela’s Life

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Winnie Mandela died at age 81 after being hospitalized since January. (@winniemandela/Twitter)

After the death of anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela at age 81 Monday, April 3, many celebrities have posted various tributes on social media.

Mandela, who was married to Nelson Mandela for almost 40 years, died after being “in and out of [the] hospital since the start of the year,” her family said in a statement following confirmation from Mandela’s assistant, Zodwa Swane.

After spending most of her marriage apart from the former president of South Africa, the two divorced and Mandela continued her activism, venturing into more militant territory. That included being surrounded by the Mandela United Football Club, a vigilante group.

And although Mandela admitted she was “hardened” by her past, she remained known as the Mother of the Nation throughout her life. South Africa is set to honor Mandela with a state funeral on April 14, the Associated Press reported.

Since Mandela’s death made headlines, several celebrities have weighed in, including those who have been associated with her on screen, like Jennifer Hudson, who portrayed Mandela in a 2011 biopic and Idris Elba, who played her late husband in a 2013 film.

“Rest in peace Mama Winnie. My heart is heavy right now,” Elba tweeted Monday. “You lived a full and important life contributing to the liberation of a nation by force and ACTUAL ACTIVISM. You will never be forgotten. 👊🏾”

Actress Viola Davis also wrote a tribute.

“A woman who epitomized how the power of a woman’s love, intelligence and vision can change a culture,” she said on Instagram. “RIP Winnie Mandela ❤.”

Singer Tyrese Gibson shared a personal video of him sitting down with Mandela at the end of 2017.

“Right before I headed to the airport I asked Mother to send encouraging word….. I remember she kept telling me to come back home,” Gibson posted on Instagram.”She said America is not your home come back home … I went to Abu Dhabi and it was IN my heart to go to South Africa, to see Mother and I’m so glad I did. Wow, your spirits were so high and warm towards me and my wife … Winnie Mandela, I love you so much. I will hook onto every heart to ❤ and every moment we shared  — my sincere condolences and prayers to the family. Oh, this hurts so bad.”

Supermodel Naomi Campbell tweeted, “I cherish the times I spent with you, embracing me in your family & home. You were [a] woman of strength that endured so much hardship and sacrifice. Without you, we would not know anything about Tata (isiXhosa word for “father”) and his 27 years. You will remain in my heart!! R.I.P WINNIE MANDELA ♥🙏🏾🇿🇦.”

Actor Danny Glover also gave his condolences.

“Sending a warm embrace to the family, friends and comrades of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,” he said. “What an amazing woman, who dealt with many struggles and remained a champion of peace, equality and justice for the people of South Africa. Rest in power!”

“Winnie Mandela has died,” tweeted MSNBC anchor Joy Reid. “She was ferocious, controversial, and fearless. Rest in peace, to the mother of post-Apartheid South Africa.”

Jesse Jackson tweeted, “In the darkest hours of the struggle to free South Africa, with Nelson Mandela in prison, the face of hope and courage was #Winnie Mandela. May she forever rest in #Power.”

And fellow activist Bernice King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, also tweeted about Mandela’s passing.

CNN’s Van Jones told TMZ about his meeting with Winnie Mandela in South Africa in 1998 when he was a recent law school graduate.

“She was so kind to me,” he says. “I went up to her, I was star struck. ‘Oh my God, that’s Winnie Mandela! That’s Winnie Mandela!’ And I reach out like this, ‘My name is Van Jones! I’m an American!’ She goes, ‘That’s very obvious.’

“She went through hell … the reality is, nobody knows what you would have done in her situation. She gave it all, she lost it all. She’s gon’ be missed.”

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