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‘I am me; I am black; I have to be proud of my blackness.’—Read an excerpt from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s memoir, 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69
April 2, 2018April 3, 2018The JRB3 Comments on ‘I am me; I am black; I need to be proud of my blackness.’—Read an excerpt from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s memoir, 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69
Winnie Madikizela-Mandelahas actually passed away in Johannesburg at the age of eighty-one.
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Read an excerpt from her prikid journal, publimelted in 2013, 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69:
491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; Edited by Swati Dlamini and also Sahm Venter Picador Africa
About the book:
On a freezing winter’s night, a couple of hrs prior to dawn on 12 May 1969, defense police stormed the Soweto house of Winnie Mandela and also detained her in the presence of her two young daughters, then aged nine and ten.
Rounded up in a team of other anti-apartheid activists under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, designed for the security police to hold and also interrogate civilization for as long as they wanted, she was taken away. She had no idea wbelow they were taking her or what would certainly happen to her kids. For Winnie Mandela this was the start of a 491-day period of detention and two trials.
Forty-one years after Winnie’s release on 14 September 1970, Greta Sogobtained, the widow of David Sogobtained, one of Winnie Mandela’s advocates in the time of the 1969–70 trials, handed her a stack of documents that consisted of a journal and notes that she had actually written in detention. Their arrival lugged earlier vivid and also horrifying memories and also unspanned a unique and individual slice of South Africa’s background.
491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 shares through the world Winnie Mandela’s relocating and compelling journal and some of the letters written between affected parties at the time, including Winnie and Nelchild Mandela, that by then had been in prison for virtually salso years.
Readers obtain insight right into the brutality she proficient, her depths of despair and also her resilience and defiance under excessive push. This young wife and mother arised after 491 days in detention unbowed and established to proceed the battle for freedom.
Read an excerpt:
Solitary confinement is worse than hard work. When you do hard work you are via other prisoners, you can tolerate it because you all dig together, you communicate and also you are alive. Solitary confinement is expected to kill you alive. It is the most vicious punishment that you could wish on your worst enemy. You are imprisoned in this little bit cell. When you stretch your hands you touch the wall surfaces. You are decreased to a nobody, a non-worth. It is choose killing you alive. You are alive because you breathe. You are deprived of everything—your dignity, your every little thing.
We were hosted incommunicaperform. We were not permitted to even check out a lawyer. In those days we were completely at their mercy. Some family members never kbrand-new that their loved ones passed away after they were detained. We were lucky to be alive and it was pucount bereason of my name that I survived because the simplest thing for them at the time would have been to kill me, which they endangered eincredibly day. ‘Oh you’re still alive?’ They would certainly come in eincredibly day and say, ‘You’re still alive? We don’t recognize if you will certainly be alive tomorrow.’
They honestly thought that it was difficult for a babsence womale to have this kind of toughness, to be this stubborn. Because they were meant to break us and also they could not think that anyone would withstand them prefer that?
When we were released the first time I had red lips from pellagra and also my skin was peeling because also once you tried to eat you lugged up because you were incredibly, very hungry. We were supposed to be awaiting-trial prisoners but they did not treat us as such. Our lawyers had to make an application to the Supreme Court for us to be carried food and then when they carried this food if it was bcheck out they would break the breview. They were searching to see if tright here was anypoint concealed in it. They would break the fruit open so you obtained your food in pieces—just to humiliate you and also to present that you are a nobody. They decreased you to such levels.
They still searched you in your cell despite the fact that you had nopoint various other than the apparel you were wearing, 2 blankets and a mat. We had a plastic bottle through two-and-a-fifty percent litres of water for the entirety day. That was your ration for the day and also you drank from the bottle—tright here was no glass, you drank from that. Then you wiped your confront with that and also you just wiped your armpits and yourself. One of our lawyers, George Bizos, had actually to use for us to wash. An application had actually to be brought prior to the Supreme Court for months to enable us to wash appropriately.
Solitary confinement was designed to kill you so progressively that you were lengthy dead prior to you passed away. By the time you died, you were nobody. You had actually no soul anyeven more and also a body without a soul is a corpse anymeans. It is unbelievable that you survived all that. When I was told that a lot of of my torturers were dead, I was so heartbroken. I wanted them to check out the dawn of flexibility. I wanted them to watch how they shed their battle via all that they did to us, that we survived. We are the survivors who made this history.
When I remained in detention for all those months, my two children practically passed away. When I came out they were so lean; they had had actually such a hard time. They were extended in sores, malnutrition sores. And they wonder why I am prefer I am. And they have actually a nerve to say, ‘Oh Madiba is such a calm perkid, you understand. We wonder how he had actually such a wife who is so violent?’ The management on Robben Island was never before touched; the management on Robben Island had no principle what it was favor to interact the foe physically. The management was removed and cushioned behind prison walls; they had their 3 meals a day. In truth, ironically, we should give thanks to the authorities for keeping our leadership alive; they were not tortured. They did not understand what we were talking about and when we were reported to be so violent, involved in the physical struggle, fighting the Boers underground, they did not understand because none of them had ever been based on that, not also Madiba himself—they never touched him, they would certainly not have dared.
We were the foot soldiers. We were their cannon fodder and it was us that were used as their political barometer each time they wanted to discover out exactly how the country was going to react. They tortured us knowing that it was going to leak to the country and also they wanted to test the reactivity. Tata might not comprehend how I had become so violent in the eyes of the police. They kbrand-new that I was connected through the army wing of the ANC and also they kbrand-new I was a leader of the struggle underground. They knew I saved soldiers that infiltrated into the nation.
But we learnt all kinds of tricks to protect ourselves against them. I learnt then that ‘the nearer the risk, the safer the place’, which is the initially point they are taught in the armed forces. It was him, Tata, who always repetitive that ‘the nearer the peril, the safer the place’, so I hid the cadres beside the police stations. Not one of those cadres was arrested, and they were right under their noses. If I had actually a very dangerous unit, which was in the high command and affiliated in unique operations, I hid them roughly the police terminal. And they can not capture me bereason I discovered that the just means to make it through those days was to operate alone. Tright here was constantly a hazard of acquiring someone eliminated by merely associating with them. That is why I never knew their actual names. I never kbrand-new the names of the systems that infiltrated the nation. When they came into the nation I offered them my very own combat names so that they did not coincide with the names they offered in the camps and they would certainly not recognize that was that. These are world that are generals in the South Afrihave the right to army now that organize the greatest workplaces in federal government but they should tell that story themselves. We and also the opponent hunted each various other at sunset—our daybreak was 6pm. We operated best with the night; it did not issue wright here I was. Daybreak was nightloss. We reversed the hrs in the very same method we had actually to reverse the values of culture. Zindzi and Zeni would certainly ask inquiries, specifically Zindzi. She was a really troublesome child; she had a very enquiring mind. Her sister did it in an extra sombre and also dignified way. Zeni was constantly the princess. She was born favor that. When her father used to play with her as a baby, he addressed her as ‘Princess’. That is exactly how she became ‘HRH’ and she is still HRH now. That is exactly how we addressed her. Zindzi was a tomboy and she was always asking, ‘Ma, you know? You understand you are a liar.’
I always give the instance of Tat’uSibeko, my next-door neighbour, a Zulu from Zululand also and one of those actual standard types. And so Zindzi came in, she was around five or 6, and she said, ‘Mummy you said all the daddies are in jail. Why are the daddies in jail?’
I said, ‘Because they are fighting for us to additionally have the ability to live in town.’ You can not use the word ‘free’ because the children did not understand also. ‘They want us to have actually nice houses and likewise live next to the shops in tvery own.’
And then she said, ‘But then why is Tat’uSibeko next door at home? Why hasn’t he gone to fight for that?’ And then she went on to say, ‘But Mummy, the other kids say human being that are in prichild are negative world.’
What carry out you say? This is a five-, six-year-old through an enquiring mind. Both of them would certainly challenge me via these inquiries so the values of society were reversed to the degree that as they thrived older the fathers who were not in jail were ‘collaborators’—it was ‘wrong’ not to be in jail, you were a ‘collaborator’. It was right to be in prison; it was not that if you steal you would be arrested and also you would certainly go to jail. You might not usage that instance so we had actually to usage religious examples and say, ‘You understand if you perform wrong points your angel is watching. You know God does not want you to do bad points, that’s why we have to pray, that’s why we have the Lord’s Prayer. You mustn’t execute poor points.’ We might not usage imprisonment for appropriate and also wrong because then they would certainly have actually related to their father as a criminal and also how would certainly you obtain that out of a child’s mind? No matter just how she gets educated later in life, what you teach the kid as a mom in the formative years is what sticks. Tright here was propaganda from the nationalists that their father was terrorist—he was a killer.
And just how carry out you adjust those worths later on in life? People perform not realise exactly how challenging it wregarding bring up children in those years. They have actually led conflicted lives and they have turned out to be who they are. You carry out not understand exactly how many kind of times paleas prefer us dropped on our knees and also thanked God that they turned out to be who they are. It was touch and also go—the kid could have turned out to be a criminal. In reality, the son can have actually grown approximately blame you. When they uncovered the truth, they can have actually told us, ‘How dare you?’ So, ‘Mummy and Daddy provided us up and determined the people and made a decision the nation, made a decision to fight for the people? These people?’ Can you imagine what that would have actually supposed to our families if they had turned out to have such questioning minds? At what allude execute you, as a parent, decide that you would certainly fight for a reason that is thankmuch less sometimes, but you know you are fighting for huguy dignity?
When Tata was arrested in 1962 and I obtained my initially banning order, it had actually no name—‘Mandela’s wife’ was banned and also confined and also the rest of the people did not recognize who I was. I can never before say anything that was from myself, my own mind. It was possible they did that deliberately, however my reactivity was that if you have actually arrested the male you have to damage what he left behind. I took that as a direct assault on woguys and that we were useless—our husbands were our voices and in their absence the struggle would certainly end. To the prisoners, if they did not have actually the assistance of their households that would certainly have actually been their finish. I realised how vital the support of household is once you are in priboy.
When Tata was arrested on 5 August 1962, I chose, ‘I will certainly fight them to the last drop of my blood. I am going to fight them and also I am not going to let them break me. I will certainly never let them break me.’ I was conscious of the truth that all of a sudden I discovered, ‘Oh, I have actually no name now’—every little thing I did as ‘Mandela’s wife’. I shed my individuality: ‘Mandela’s wife said this’, ‘Mandela’s wife was arrested’. It did not matter who the hell I was; it did not matter that I was a Madikizela; it did not matter that I was a human being. And it was understandable to the oppressor that whatever they did to Mandela’s wife, she deoffered it. So I believed, ‘My goodness I’ve grown up a princess in my very own home; I come from the Royal House of Pondoland; and all of a sudden I’ve shed my identification bereason of this struggle. I am going to fix them. I will fight them and I will establish my very own identification.’ I deliberately did that. I said I was not going to bask in his shadow and be known as ‘Mandela’s wife’; they were going to know me as Zanyiwe Madikizela. I dealt with for that. I sassist, ‘I will certainly not even bask in his national politics. I am going to create my very own identity because I never did bask in his ideas.’ I had my own mind.
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I realised that, my goodness, if you are married you shed your identification entirely. I ended up being a nobody and I had actually grown up walking tall in my home. I had actually been taught by my mommy and also my father that I must walk tall. I am me; I am black; I should be proud of my blackness. My father taught me the background of our country; he taught me around the nine Xhosa wars; he taught me the duty the Pondos played in the liberation struggle; he taught me what happened as soon as the 1820 Settlers came right into the nation and also how Van Riebeeck landed in the Cape in 1652. I heard all this background from my father and also then I came here; I am a nobody. Not on your life. No, I am going to be who my father taught me to be. I am going to walk tall.