Ramaphosa: 'Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lived for the African people'

Ramaphosa says that South Africa is burdened by the sorrow of Winnie’s death, but the people are also comforted by the richness and profound meaning of her life.

The pain we carry in our hearts cannot be extinguished says Ramaphosa. This is a painful moment for us but we don’t want to be denied the opportunity to respect a great African woman he adds.

Her life was dedicated to the unity of the oppressed of all nations. In death, she has brought us all together, from near and far, across many nations and continents, to mourn, to pay homage, to remember and to fondly reminisce.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

READ: Zenani Mandela-Dlamini calls out her mother's detractors

She saw for herself the deliberate intent of the apartheid rulers to impoverish the people of this country. Her conscience, her convictions, left her with no choice but to resist. She felt compelled to join a struggle that was as noble in its purpose as it was perilous in its execution. She felt compelled to speak when others were rendered silent.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

She felt compelled to organise, to mobilise, to lead when those who led our people had been sent across the bay to the Island, whilst others were forced to flee beyond our borders or were martyred by a state that knew no mercy. She felt compelled to pick up the spear where it had fallen. It was a spear that, throughout the darkest moments of our struggle, she wielded with great courage, unequivocal commitment and incredible skill.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

ALSO READ: 'If you want to honour Mam'Winnie, name the Cape Town airport after her'

Ramaphosa says that Winnie’s life was dedicated to the African people, and revolved around service to her people. She understood that her suffering was not in vein and that's the legacy of a great leader who we know as the Mother of the Nation adds Ramaphosa.

She was an African woman who – in her attitude, her words and her actions – defied the very premise of apartheid ideology and male superiority. Proud, defiant, articulate, she exposed the lie of apartheid. Loudly and without apology, she spoke truth to power. And it was those in power who, insecure and fearful, visited upon her the most vindictive and callous retribution. Yet, through everything, she endured. They could not break her. They could not silence her.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone. Too often, we were not there for her.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Mama, you have run your race. Your forebears are waiting for you. Madiba is waiting to receive you. Mama Sisulu, Helen Joseph, Charlotte Maxeke are waiting to receive you. Solomon Mahlangu, Chris Hani, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, they are waiting to open the doors for you.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Listen to the full speech below...


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