Former Ghana President Jerry John Rawlings has described the late Winnie Mandela of South Africa as a very brave apartheid fighter who carried her defiance for the system with “quiet dignity.”
In a tribute to the late Winnie Mandela who is due for a state burial at the weekend, Rawlings said the fight against the “devious, wicked and callous” apartheid regime was not for the faint-hearted and that Winnie was truly prepared to fearlessly live and die for the cause.
“Let us make the effort to understand and acknowledge her superiority. Nothing pleases us more than to know that she and Mandela restored their spiritual bond, respect and admiration known to only those who dared to walk the plank,” said Rawlings in the tribute he wrote on behalf of his family - Nana, Zanetor, Asantewaa, Amina and Kimathi.
Winnie Mandela, popularly called “Mother of the Nation” and ““champion of justice and equality” died on April 2, 2018 aged 81, following a protracted ill health.
President Rawlings with Winnie Mandela and President and Mrs Nguesso of Congo Republic
Below is Rawlings' tribute:
WINNIE MANDELA WAS THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE
A Tribute By H. E. Jerry John Rawlings, former President of Ghana
Winnie was the bravest of the brave. She carried her defiance with quiet dignity. She did not wait for others, nor did she need the courage of numbers. The fight against the apartheid regime was not for the faint-hearted. They were devious, wicked and callous.
Winnie was one of the few who no doubt knew the liberating effect of being reborn out of the fear of death, and being truly prepared to fearlessly live and die for a cause.
Her lonely strength finally won the admiration of those who had been cowed, to wake up to their roles in those dangerous days. The infectious courage of her conviction led to her being effectively isolated for years. And even as the spirit of liberation was becoming more and more evident, the intensity of her courage, defiance and outspokenness still kept her a lonely figure. Understandably, she had little tolerance for weak opportunists.
Winnie’s fearlessness and absolute candour elevated her well above most of us. You cannot possibly go through what Winnie went through alone and still continue to trust and respect others as you do your very own self. Finding people of a similar nature is rare and can only come from those who would have suffered the same fate.
So much is owed to Winnie. Sadly a good number of those who benefitted the most from her pain and struggle did not see their way clear and early enough to give her what was her due.
Let us make the effort to understand and acknowledge her superiority. Nothing pleases us more than to know that she and Mandela restored their spiritual bond, respect and admiration known to only those who dared to walk the plank.
Winnie and Mandela gave each other what we couldn’t give them - the richness and tranquility of their love; the spiritual peace and sanctity of their reunion in those final months and moments.
On behalf of Nana, Zanetor, Asantewaa, Amina and Kimathi, I express our sincere condolences to the family, friends and all who in diverse ways were partners in the painful struggle for freedom.
Fare thee well Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. God be with you.