Some Lesser Known Facts About Winnie Mandela
- Did Winnie Mandela smoke?: Not Known
- Did Winnie Mandela drink alcohol?: Not Known
- Winnie was born into a family of teachers; as her father was a headmaster and mother, a domestic science teacher.
- She had a broken childhood as after the death of her mother in 1945 in a prison, her family splintered and all her siblings were sent to live with different relatives.
- Since her childhood, she had the leadership skills as she was the head girl of her high school in Bizana.
- After she completed her degree in 1955, she was awarded a scholarship for further study in the U.S., but she denied the offer and chose to be a Black medical social worker at the Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg instead.
- While she was working at the hospital, she developed an interested in politics after her research experiences in Alexandra Township.
- She became a member of the African National Congress (ANC) in the mid-1950s.
- In 1957, she met the already married Nelson Mandela. Though her father was against her marriage to Nelson due to their huge age difference of 18 years, but she went against her family and the two married in 1958.
After marrying Nelson, she was formally called “Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.”
In 1958, she was arrested for being part of the protest against the then ruling British government that passed the legislation to African women, which compelled them to labor and live on the terms of white population.
- In 1964, her husband was sentenced to life imprisonment for his political movements, after which she carried forward her husband’s fight and raised their daughters on her own.
- While raising her daughters, she always had the fear of getting arrested by the police, so she decided to enroll her children in a boarding school in Swaziland.
She was frequently arrested by the South African government due to her political movements, where she was tortured, subjected to house arrest, and was under surveillance.
In the mid-1960s, she rose as opponent’s face of apartheid, during which she was exiled in Brandfort and was restricted to the area, but was allowed to see her husband at the prison on Robben Island.
- In early 1970, she thought of committing suicide while she was spending her 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison.
- It is believed that she was the first black social worker in South Africa.
- During the youth revolution of 1976, she founded the Black Women’s Federation and the Black Parents’ Association with an ideology to abolish all “White” values, for which she was detained.
- In 1985, she had a narrow escape as her house was burned, after which she shifted to Soweto and continued to fight against the government.
- For all the struggle that she did for the rights of “Black”, she earned the title of “Mother of the Nation.”
- In 2013, she released a book named ‘491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69’ that highlighted her experiences of 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison.
- The same year, a drama film called ‘Winnie Mandela’ was released, which was based on Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob’s biography ‘Winnie Mandela: A Life.’
- Even after her divorce with Nelson Mandela, she kept his surname and was in touch with him, but he left no money for her in his will.
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