Fast Facts On Winnie Mandela

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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela recently passed away at the age of 81. Most of the world just knows her as the ex-wife of the late African activist Nelson Mandela and not for her own enormous accomplishments. Here are five things you need to know about this African goddess.

1. During Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, Winnie participated HEAVILY in the anti-apartheid movement.

In 1964, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for his activism. This all happened in the early years of his marriage to Winnie Mandela. As a result, she vowed to take on his activism against apartheid. She then got involved with the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League.

2. In 1969, Winnie Mandela was locked in solitary confinement for 491 days.

Winnie was obtained by the police in her home on May 12, 1969, along with many other anti-apartheid protesters. In the prison, she was starved, neglected, and deprived of proper hygiene products. She’d write letters to her husband, along with her friends and family. When the letters were found, they were edited and published into a book called 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69.

3. Winnie Mandela raise her two daughters alone for 27 years.

Since Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and Winnie was left with two young daughters (Zindni and Zenani), she had to become supermom and fight for anti-apartheid at the same time. According to, she sent her daughters to boarding school in Swaziland when they were old enough so they wouldn’t have to endure an unpeaceful school experience near their home. After Nelson Mandela was released from prison, the couple divorce and she continued being a good mother and protester. Can you say “the mother of our dreams”?

4. Winnie Mandela had a broad political history.

After losing the run for president of the ANC Women’s League to Gertrude Shope, Winnie Mandela was elected as an executive member of the league, as well as chief of social welfare for the ANC. She was also a part of the South African Parliament from 2009 until her recent death. #GirlPower

5. Winnie Mandela was known as “The Mother of the Nation” in South Africa.

The South African people know her as “The Mother of the Nation,” since she was a huge help in uniting South Africa. She earned the nickname because she was an amazing wife, ex-wife and mother to her family. In short, Winnie Mandela , you will be missed by us all.


By Jade Griffin, Sophomore, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep

Twitter: @aKaShA_02

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