READ: US novelist Alice Walker's tribute to Madikizela-Mandela

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Then ANC Women's League president Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the 51st national conference of the ruling party in Stellenbosch in December 2002.

JOHANNESBURG –  The Color Purple author Alice Walker wrote a moving tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the 1980s.

The poem was published while former president Nelson Mandela was still imprisoned on Robben Island.

It was a tribute to her strength, which led to her recognition by the oppressed as the "Mother of the Nation".

Madikizela-Mandela was arguably the biggest female face of the liberation movement in South Africa.

She always rose to lead and protect those who believed in her.

The poem can be found here and reads as follows: 

WINNIE MANDELA

WE LOVE YOU

Winnie Mandela

We love you.

If we had known you
In a time of peace
We would have loved
Your peacefulness
Your quiet so deep
It did not hear
The call
To fight.

We missed our chance.

Winnie Mandela
We love you.

In a time of war
We love your ferocity.

We love your vigilance.
We love your impatience
With killers
And charlatans.
We love your hatred
Of the deaths of our people.
We love your hatred
Of despair.

Winnie Mandela
We love you.

We love your beauty.
We love your style.
We love your hats,
Scarves
And various lengths
Of hair.
We love the passion
In your body.
The fury in your eyes.
When you smile
We are amazed.

We love your loyalty
To Nelson
The beautiful.
Your attention to
The children
And the voluptuousness
Of the countryside
Which will be ours
Again.
We love your memory
Of details.
We love that you do not intend
To forget.

Winnie Mandela, “Lucy,”
We love you

For helping us recognize
The eternity you’ve been with us before.

Winnie Mandela, Sister,
We love you.

Yours is the contemporary face
Of the mother
Of the human race.

 

From &39;Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965-1990 Complete&39;, Harcourt Brace publishers; by Alice Walker

 

 

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