The death of Winnie Mandela in April last year shocked many South Africans. It wasn’t sudden or especially untimely – she was 81 years old – but ‘Ma Winnie’ was an icon of the anti-apartheid movement and a controversial, seemingly indestructible, figure.
The second wife of Nelson Mandela was a radical, eloquent and courageous anti-apartheid activist in her own right. In later life she acquired a reputation for violent acts of vengeance, however, and was implicated in more than one murder.
Journalist Sisonke Msimang, author of The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela, believes we need to look longer and harder at the complicated legacy of this extraordinary woman. ‘Peace was hard-fought and therefore hard-won … [Winnie Madikizela-Mandela] was walking testament to the truism that brutalised people become brutal themselves.’
Was Winnie a hero or a thug? Is it possible to be both? How do we treat the legacies of violent women? And what does Winnie’s story tell us of the story of South Africa? At the Wheeler Centre in June, Msimang will tackle these questions and more. Hosted by Areej Nur.
Readings will be our bookseller for this event.
‘Often it’s pre-determined that [conversations about racism] are going to be defensive and they’re going to be ugly. And I think that’s largely because of the way they’ve been framed by men.’
Sisonke Msimang is the author of Always Another Country: A memoir of exile and home and The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela: A biography of survival. She is a South African writer whose work is focussed on race, gender and democracy. She has written for a range of international publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Newsweek and Al Jazeera. Msimang is the curator of the literature and ideas program at Perth Festival.
Areej Nur is a radio producer, presenter and educator. She is also co-founder of the podcast network Broadwave. Most of Areej’s work seeks to support women of colour, particularly black women, to be at the forefront of conversations about media, arts, race and feminism in Australia.