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During her infant years her father, Columbus, was a local history teacher.
In later years he was the minister of the Transkei Governments’ Forestry and Agriculture Department during Kaizer Matanzima's rule.
Mother of the Nation, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, tragically passed away on Monday after a long illness. Nelson Mandela and Winnie were married a year later. Mama Winnie spent 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison.
Nomzamo Winfreda Zanyiwe Madikizela was born on 26 September 1936, in a remote village called e Mbongweni in the Eastern Cape. Winnie is the fourth child of nine children, she had seven sisters and one brother. Later she earned a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand. When Winnie accepted a position at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto after her graduation, she became the first black social worker in South Africa. She met a dashing lawyer, who was also an anti-apartheid activist, in 1957.
Their relationship was strained and they divorced in March 1996. Mama Winnie played a huge political role in the ANC Women’s League, and continued to support them throughout the years. She celebrated her 80th birthday in style with a glamorous ceremony at the Belmont Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.
Early Years Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela was born, the fifth of nine children, in the village of Mbongweni, Bizana, in the Transkei on 26 September 1936.
Along with her siblings, Winnie begged their father to attend, and eventually he acquiesced to their demand.
However, upon arriving at the town hall, it was discovered that these celebrations were “for whites only” and the children were forced to remain outside with their father while the white population enjoyed the merriment within.[iv] The obvious injustice struck a deep blow for Winnie, and thereafter she grew increasingly sensitised to the inequality of the world around her.
She completed her degree in social work in 1955, finishing at the top of her class, and was offered a scholarship for further study in the USA.
Columbus, her father, was a history teacher and her mother Gertrude taught domestic science. Winnie and her eight siblings were separated and sent to live with different relatives. She was top of her class in school and was even head girl at Shawbury High School. Despite education restrictions on black people during Apartheid, she worked hard and received a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg.