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Mzizi Sam Base - Highveld Chronicle Editor in Chief

Another outstanding stateswoman in Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela passed on this week, and rightly befitting the flags will be flying at half-mast until the 14th of April. This is a national realisation of the impact that she brought to our country, her journey spanned across two eras of South Africa and still managed to leave footprints on the hearts of the ordinary in both the pre and post-independence generation. I smiled when I read on tweet that stated “mama Winnie did not die, she multiplied”, this tweet put so many thoughts in my head about how such an ordinary woman named Zanyiwe (attempted / tried) had not just attempted but achieved in becoming so extraordinary so much as to cause the nation to come to a standstill when she passed on.

The thoughts were not rested and as I dwelt on them I began to pick out key attributes that allowed mama to be mourned and remembered in the way she is today. I quickly realised that in order to leave a legacy one must live their present life for the sake of others. It is a position that must be assumed to fight for the fearful and stand for the frail, its normally easier said than done, and when the attributes of man are brought to the front, this position is not easily achievable. The pain and the reject are the reason we have so many selfish leaders who push their own agendas ahead of the cries of the people. Living a present life for others is no walk in the park, it requires the ultimate sacrifice as in most instances the rewards are not monetary. We have become such a materialistic society in the subject of reward so much that if we cannot touch something we question its validity and existence. Winnie was a leader who lived her prime years for you and me, fighting for our rights and refusing to be silenced just so we could in the least share the same toilet and afford the same occupations.

The second thing I realised from the story of Winnie is that multiplication occurs only in death, a seed underground firstly dies before it germinates to become a plant that carries more seed of its type. Whilst in the walk to multiplication there are many stages that are passed there is an initial stage that is dying for the seed. In her fight for the lives lost and the tears shed mama Winnie indicated that she had died to self when she put the concerns of others well ahead of hers, this is clear when we hear her remark and say “whilst I am prepared to listen to my leaders who say that the only solution is a peaceful one now. We have buried enough. We have cried enough, we have shed rivers of tears. Ok let us then sit and talk with these men. I cannot trust them, I know myself. I would be deceiving myself if I wake up tomorrow and I tell you that I can trust these men. I cannot”. For mama Winnie to consider beyond the tears she shed and focus on the lives of others lost meant that she had transitioned from a self-conscious leader to a leader conscious of the woes suffered by the community around her, simply put dead to self and alive to the worlds concerns.

In so many instances in life the people who are true leaders like mama Winnie are misunderstood by those closest to them, because the ones familiar and closest to them seem to be deprived of the attention they seek in selfish ownership and entitlement approaches. I seek to speak no bad about Winnie and her family but to just clarify that in absenteeism from those closest to her she was present for the nation that now calls her mama. Someone tweeted as a joke the remark that “since mama Winnie has passed and she was the mother of our nation shall we all take family responsibility leave from work?”; Yes is my answer, the nation needs to declare a day of mourning and maybe mark a day as Winnie Mandela day, she stood her own ground and despite sharing the same name as the global icon Tata Madiba that name did not overshadow her. In her own words she said “I was not going to bask in his shadow and be known as Mandela’s wife, they were going to know me as Zanyiwe Madikizela. I fought for that, I said I will never even bask in his politics. I am going to form my own identity because I never did bask in his ideas”. Rest in peace mama Winnie we have known you by your name, taken part in your ideas and seen your them come to life. You live and are multiplied in so many today.