As we remember the legacy of Nelson Mandela today, please do not forget the woman who worked to co-create his legacy and who molded Nelson (once regarded as a terrorist around the world) into the international hero he is known to be today. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela became Nelson Mandela’s 2nd wife at the ripe, young age of 19. This amazing young woman could have never have imagined the journey that her life would take after marrying a much older Nelson, who is roughly 18 years her senior. Her resilience, intelligence and fortitude served her, and Nelson, well though his years of incarceration in South Africa’s prisons. It was Winnie who released Nelson’s letters to the world (and made sure the world paid attention), never allowing the public to forget him has he sat in jail. She raised his their 2 children and was at the forefront of the battle against the violence and cruelty of the Afrikaner led apartheid movement, while Nelson “sat” in jail.
The unfortunate part of the Mandela legacy is that she, the mother…and nurturer of the anti-apartheid movement, was cast aside as a woman who was too empowered…and who didn’t know her place after Nelson Mandela was released. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, I will never forget that without you, Nelson Mandela would likely have been a lesser known historic figure who’s legacy would never have been truly appreciated.