An unedited biography of an anti-apartheid icon
With our box of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country” - Winnie Mandela (1986)
With such highly inflammatory statements, Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela’s actions shocked not only her then-jailed husband, the iconic anti-apartheid fighter, Nelson Mandela, but the world. Winnie Mandela had become defiant and irresponsible.
But `Winnie Mandela: A Life’ is the tragic story of a girl with a rural upbringing whose beauty, style and character captivated the political activist and Tembu prince, Nelson Mandela. The book shows how together they personified the rising aspirations and political awakening of their people, and, in so doing, inspired a nation.
Born Nomzamo Winfreda Zanyiwe Madikizela, she rises to be adored, feared and hated more than any other woman in South African history. But few people know much about the life behind the headlines, myths, and sound-bites.
First time author, Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob’s `Winnie Mandela: A Life’ is the intimate, in-depth and unbiased biography revelation of the enigma that is Winnie Mandela. It explores her personal and political life.
Written in 2003, this biography takes the reader on a remarkable journey of understanding, painting a rich, warm and vivid portrait of one of the world’s most charismatic, yet enigmatic, women.
Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob is a political journalist who does a good job in writing, “not just the story of a remarkable woman or South Africa under apartheid, but a parable for the courage and compassion of women in war, and the effects of ruthless dictatorship: the brutality of unscrupulous leaders struggling for survival, and the enslavement of man.......”.
She shows how Winnie helped keep alive the struggle against apartheid while her husband was locked away on Robben Island for 27 years. But in 1990 when Mandela was finally released and the while the World turned its attention on him, the curtain was about to go up on a drama that would shake Winnie’s life to the core, and reverberate in across the globe.
Winnie’s words and actions had for years been inciting violence, not only, against the whites but towards the black youth. Winnie Mandela’s list of victims was getting longer. Her daughter, Zindzi’s involvement was an eye-opener. The most popular name in Africa was being tarnished. In 1989 a 14-year old ANC Activist, Stompie Seipei, was found dead. Winnie Mandela was accused and sentenced in 1991.
Winnie Mandela might, for some, have displayed a weakness in character but to others she is the “Mother of the Nation.” Her strength is evident in her words when she responds to then Archbishop of Cape Town, the Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu’s plea in front of an expectant and very silent and packed auditorium.
Tutu tells her: “I beg you, I beg you, I beg you, please. I have not made any particular finding about what happened. You are a great person and you do not know your greatness will be enhanced if you said,`sorry, things went horribly wrong’.”
Winnie replied that she “was deeply sorry”.
“Things went terribly wrong,” she said.
However, some readers might feel that a number of issues were left unsolved. How is it possible that Winnie Mandela escaped going to jail? Or was it indeed a witch-hunt? Was Zindzi ever tried?
Winnie Mandela: A Life also reminds the reader that Winnie Mandela and her children have made personal sacrifices in order that the nation be served.
From allegations of kidnapping and murder to her divorce from Nelson Mandela and charges of fraud, this book is bound to keep you well-entertained for the weekend.
This biography of Winnie Mandela is chilling, traumatising, inspiring and scary. It is a story of laughter, humour, pain, suffering, tribulation; of vigour, tenacity and self-determination.
With many a story left only for the movies, `Winnie Mandela: A Life is a tragic drama’.
A sensitive and balanced portrayal, the book investigates and honestly examines the controversies that have dogged Winnie Mandela in recent years. It is a very well written biography and I recommend this to anyone intrigued by this political figure of almost Shakespearean tragic proportions.
Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrop’s `Winnie Mandela: A Life’ ends with a quote from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that sums it up best:
“I am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy”.