South Africa yesterday laid to rest one of the leading personalities in the struggle against the evil system of racial discrimination – apartheid – Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
From the young age of only 22, when she got married to Nelson Mandela, an iconic figure in the freedom struggle, Winnie knew little peace and personal comfort.
She was routinely persecuted and was once banished by the racist regime to a remote rural township.
For 27 years, she remained married to Nelson Mandela, while he was in jail.
On his release, she only had a short time with him, followed by divorce and more tribulations, but Winnie remained strong.
The tragedy of Winnie Mandela is that her human frailties have been exploited to diminish her stellar contribution to the struggle to free South Africa.
Perhaps her lowest moment was being dragged to court over the kidnapping of a teenage boy by a group that was associated with her.
It was the ironical twist of a rights activist violating the rights of others.
The other is the matter of an extramarital affair that has seen Winnie dragged through the mud in the post-apartheid era.
We could not agree more with one of her daughters who, eulogising Winnie, decried the different moral standards to which women and men are often held the world over.
Unlike her male counterparts in the anti-apartheid struggle, some of whom probably had worse indiscretions, the vilification of Winnie unfairly denigrates her achievements.
As her account is finally closed, it’s only fair that, while acknowledging the negatives, her true worth is emphasised.