Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was known for her fight against patriarchy. 

Growing up in an Indian household automatically means that your male counterparts will have more privileges than you, more chances than you, more choices and less chores. When you dare to fight back against the misogyny, you automatically hear the singsong of ‘but boys will be boys’ and ‘it’s different if you are a boy’.

On Saturday, April 14, 2018, I attended the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a stalwart of the apartheid struggle. Out of all the things that were said by the many speakers, the one common denominator in all of their speeches was Mam’Winnie’s fight against patriarchy and misogyny.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made an interesting remark in his eulogy. He spoke about her beauty, and how so many men were captured by it. While I do believe that it is more than okay to admire someone’s beauty, there is a time and a place to do so and the funeral of late Mam’Winnie, was not it.

Ramaphosa said, “Many people have not mentioned so much about the beautiful woman that uMama Winnie was. Mama, your beauty was not only apparent towards the father of our nation, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, he knew in 1958, we all, men and women alike, but more especially us men were in total awe of your breathtaking beauty and we applaud you for being eternally beautiful.”

Even in death, as the mother of the South African nation, the fighter for the freedom of the people who live in this great nation, she is sexualised. Are men incapable of paying tribute to strong, inspiring, powerful women without resorting to their physical traits. I questioned the need for this inclusion as I listened to the President’s words.

If there was one thing I took away from Mam’Winnie’s life, and her funeral, it was even in death women have to fight the patriarchy and the misogyny that we are constantly surrounded by. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela fought the good fight, in a time when there were few women who had the courage or the ability to stand up against the male dominated society that we continue to live in.

She is an icon for woman around the world, she gives us hope every day, she inspires us to not leave our positions as mothers, daughters, and wives but rather to show the world of men that a woman is capable of being more than one thing; more than someone’s wife, or daughter or mother but rather independent of the men that surround her life.