It Toughened Me Up
"If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves. Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we co-operate with other groups. Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority." Winnie Mandela
When I turned 13 ,my granma gave me a book called “Part of My Soul Went With Him” by Winnie Mandela.
Confessions on the Journey, I had no idea who she was! My granma told me to read it as she thought I could do with some “toughening up”. I read it. I read it again. I read it once more.
I marvelled at this woman’s courage and resilience and was I outraged by the system called apartheid.
The book planted a seed.
I did not know if it toughened me up then but it certainly peaked my interest in Women’s Rights and in this far away land called South Africa.
When I got the opportunity to go to South Africa for the first time I jumped at it. I learned more about how women were the backbone of the struggle.
I never in my mind believed that I would end up spending time in South Africa but I have had the absolute privilege to go a few times and Anytime I got the opportunity to go, I took it.
Last year, when I returned to SA, I reunited myself with Winnie through books and visiting Soweto and asking questions to any elder willing to answer me.
It gave me that extra motivation to stay on course despite my own challenges which, really, were pale on comparison to what those women went through.
As Thando Dlomo says For many of us, Winnie Mandela was the first time we saw the black woman as powerful and fearless and impactful. Her imperfections aside, she led us to our strongest selves.
I have seen some news reports as well as posts on social media which have painted a picture of her as a witch, a killer, and any manner of uncomplementary descriptions. That may be there memory of her, however for me, she embodied a type of courage and authenticity that made me want to be a brave and true woman!
Thank you Winnie. You kept it real.You shaped your own mind and you toughened me up.
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