The hearse carrying the body of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (pictured left) arrived at her home yesterday evening. Madikizela-Mandela’s family left her Soweto home with political leaders to collect the struggle icon’s body.
The procession made its way from the Kupane Funeral Parlour back to her house, while people lined the streets in a guard of honour.
Thousands of mourners lined the roads around the freedom fighter’s home ahead of her final return.
The country is observing 10 days of mourning leading up to the struggle icon’s official funeral at the Orlando Stadium today.
Extraordinary scenes were unfolding with mourners singing struggle songs, uMkhonto weSizwe members carrying African National Congress flags and many young children also running amongst the crowd.
People say it’s an amazing thing that the woman affectionately known as the mother of the nation lived with them in the township of Soweto.
They say she was accessible and one with them.
Others say she had every right to move elsewhere but chose not to.
American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson yesterday hailed Madikizela-Mandela a hero who kept the name of Nelson Mandela alive during the 27 years he spent in jail.
“For 27 years after the trial of Rivonia‚ most of the world had not seen Nelson Mandela. There was no internet‚ no cellphones‚ no Google‚ no Facebook and so for 27 years we knew Nelson Mandela was alive because his heart was beating and that was Winnie’s heart‚” Jackson said.
“For 27 years he was in the dark and Winnie kept the Mandela name alive. With her strength and courage she redefined the struggle. She made this a global struggle‚” said Jackson.
He was speaking outside Madikizela-Mandela’s home in Orlando‚ ahead of the arrival of her body.
The 81-year-old‚ who died on last Monday‚ was to spend one more night at home before she is buried at the Fourways Memorial Park today.
She died after a lengthy illness.
Rev Jackson compared Madikizela-Mandela to great women in the Bible.
“From Mary we got Jesus the Saviour‚ from the mother of Moses we got a leader‚ from Winnie we got a nation‚” Jackson said. “In so many ways‚ she is like Esther.
“She could have just been a quiet mother with two children. She was a beautiful woman. She could have laid back … but she never stopped fighting. She never stopped serving. She took the slayings‚ so by her heart and her strikes we are healed. By the pain she took‚ we are healed‚” said Jackson.
“She never left the belly of the beast. She never stopped fighting‚ so because of that we are grateful. We say thank you‚” he said. The Herald