Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s eldest daughter, Zenani Mandela, struggled to compose herself in an apparent coughing fit before she and her younger sister Zindziswa finally commenced an emotional speech, thanking all the people who offered their family support after their mother’s death.
A person’s life can be measured by the lives they have touched, she remarked. “My mothers life was a remarkable one.”
She castigated members of the media who were complicit in the smear campaign against her mother, as revealed by several reports and a documentary, Winnie, which was aired for the first time this week. “Why have they sat on the truth and waited till my mothers death to tell it?” she demanded.
She said her mother had been robbed of her legacy, and it was little comfort that the truth was only told after her death.
“Praising her now that she is gone shows you what hypocrites you are!” she said, to roaring applause.
Mandela said she hoped the rediscovery of the truth about her mother would help coming generations understand her contribution to their freedom.
She recounted the details of her suffering during apartheid as articulated in her documentary.
Mandela reminded the audience that her mother had called for the release of her father, Nelson Mandela, “long before it was fashionable to do so”.
She concluded by sarcastically adding that one could be forgiven for thinking South Africa’s struggle was a “man’s struggle”, pointing out her mother also fought against patriarchy.
The end of her fiery speech was marked by a standing ovation and the singing of Madikizela-Mandela’s favourite struggle song, ‘Yibambeni’.
“The world holds men and women to different standards of morality,” she said, regarding the treatment of her mother as a strong woman.
“Those who continue to vilify my mother, don’t think for a second we have forgotten.”