Graa Machel lauds Winnie's 'extraordinary life', mourns her passing

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Nelson Mandelas widow Graca Machel and struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela are seen seated at the Tshwane events centre on 19 March 2015 during the memorial service of late Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane in Pretoria.

JOHANNESBURG - Nelson Mandela&39;s widow, Graa Machel, says she is struggling to deal with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela&39;s death.

In an open letter, Machel refers to Madikizela-Mandela as her &39;big sister&39;.

Machel celebrated Madikizela-Mandela&39;s commitment to the country and, noting that Madikizela-Mandela provided hope during dark times, said she took solace in the fact that the struggle icon had "risen to become one of the brightest stars in the sky".

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Machel thanked Madikizela-Mandela for her "brilliant wisdom, fierce defiance, and stylish beauty." 

Read the entire open letter from Graa Machel below.

Statement on the passing of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela from Graa Machel