Following the passing of South Africa’s struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela earlier this week, many people have been paying tribute and commending her for her contribution in the fight against apartheid, despite some trivialising her. The Daily Vox went out to speak to young people to find out if they felt Winnie Mandela should be celebrated and how she should be celebrated in South Africa.
Boitumelo Chaane, 20, student, Roodepoort
We have a bridge named after Nelson Mandela and a hospital named after Chris Hani. I think she’s also at the same level as them and deserves to be commemorated. I think building or establishing something that represented what she fought for would be a great way to commemorate her, like maybe a museum with her and other struggle women’s archives. Or even a hospital, because she also cared about the state of health received by black people, maybe name that after her.
Refiloe Mogagabe, 21, student, Protea Glen
I think we should celebrate Winnie Madikizela-Mandela the same way we celebrate Nelson Mandela. We celebrate him, so why not her? They both did the same work, she took over from him while he was in prison and contributed enormously to the struggle. We could have like a women’s centre named after her and could be based on her principles as a person who fought for women’s rights. She will always be a very important woman, and I think if we put her on the same pedestal as the men we always talk about when we speak of apartheid, she should also be there and be respected by South Africa as much as them.
Imkhitha Sicwebe, 19, student, Johannesburg CBD
We have Mandela day, where we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Therefore we should have a Winnie Mandela Day, a public holiday where we celebrate her for her unnoticed efforts as a woman fighter. We don’t even have a day where we celebrate an individual woman, we have Women’s Day every year, but unlike Mandela day, we don’t have a day where we collectively celebrate a woman icon on as much as we do with Nelson Mandela. She deserves it, and it could be a great step towards recognising other women who participated in the struggle.
Nomakhwezi Mathole, 18, student, Johannesburg CBD
Women have always been taken for granted. We always look at the men and not the women and at times we just enjoy the idea of masculinity but we forget about us. I think a “Winnie Day” will not mean a lot for her, but also it will be a great opportunity for us South Africans to unite maybe at FNB stadium and celebrate her life and remember all that she has done for us. If we are being honest with ourselves, we wouldn’t be celebrating Nelson Mandela the way we are today if it wasn’t for her.
George Kahugu, 20, student, Berea
A statue and a public holiday would be the best way to celebrate the former First Lady of South Africa. A statue because she’s an icon and most icons in South Africa have statues. She helped Nelson Mandela a lot too. I think a public holiday will also serve a constant reminder to South Africans why we should never forget her. I think some icons have been forgotten despite having statues, because they have no special days or something, and I think a public holiday would be the best way to avoid that from happening to Winnie.
Winnie Mandela’s burial is expected to take place on 11 April 2018 at the Fourways Cemetery in Johannesburg.
Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.