Multitudes of South Africans gathered for the funeral service of anti-apartheid stalwart and liberation leader Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg’s Soweto township. Mourners followed her coffin in procession into and out of the stadium as the service preceded her burial at Fourways Memorial Park.
Among the speakers at the funeral were her daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, dignitaries such as the presidents of the Republic of Congo and Namibia, as well as civil rights leaders from around the world, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Also in attendance was Julius Malema, the leader of South Africa’s leftist party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
“She made a choice to raise two families, hers and the beloved country,” Mandela-Dlamini said. “She cherished freedom as much as she treasured family. She protected both from the constant assault of the apartheid state.”
Deputy President David Mabuza described Madikizela-Mandela as a visionary who championed reconciliation.
“You taught young women across the nation that they are just as capable, if not more capable, of standing shoulder to shoulder with men and being totally unapologetic about it,” Mabuza said. “Till death, you knew who your enemy was: racial domination, class exploitation, gender oppression.”
While the bulk of the speakers chose to use their opportunity at the funeral to extol the matriarchs’ unquantifiable contribution to the struggle against apartheid and patriarchy, Malema took the opportunity to speak out against those in attendance who betrayed her in life.
The Orlando Stadium erupted as a mourning Julius Malema pronounced, “I am here not so much to bury Mama’ because Queen Mothers do not die’ they multiply into a million red flowers of love and freedom. I am here to speak on behalf of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ the daughters and sons of Mama Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela.
“I am here to pick up her spear and make my vow that I will continue to fight for a mission of restoring the dignity of black people through the attainment of economic freedom in our lifetime.
“I’m here to speak on behalf of the dejected masses of our people; I speak on behalf of the landless ‘ the unemployed youth’ the Fees Must Fall generation’ the security guards’ domestic workers’ farmworkers’ cleaners’ waiters and waitresses’ the shop keepers’ petrol attendants’ teachers’ nurses’ soldiers’ police’ government employees’ the black middle class working in the racist white firms and all those who are paid lower salaries. . .”
In his passionate speech’ Malema called out some of the people who attacked Madikizela-Mandela during her lifetime, saying, “Mama’ those who sold you out to the regime are here. They are crying the loudest’ more than all of us who cared for you.” He added, “Mama, you never told us how we should treat them when they come here, I’m waiting for a signal, ma.”
He hit out at the UDF party, which, he said, had thrown her to the apartheid regime and lashed out at executives of the ruling ANC’s Women’s League who also disowned Winnie Mandela at the time when she was leading the group.
Malema’s 18-minute address during the funeral at Orlando Stadium sparked a Twitter trend that has gone beyond South Africa’s Twitter sphere. People are using the hashtag to mock situations ranging from politics and social issues to economic and academic incidents.