Opinion: Winnie Mandela: A Tragic Loss?

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I have always said it; there is no justification for adultery on the part of the woman. It’s a shame but its true this world that we find ourselves is a man’s world. We can get away with almost everything. Sleep with your maid or nanny and the sky will not fall, but let your madam fall in love with Idris Elba and you will see how her world will come crashing.

Over the weekend, following the death of my uncle Nelson Mandela, I went into research mode. Looking for everything about him to devour. Books, movies, magazines everything, I had a major craving for everything Mandela. In my quest, I stumbled on the movie, Winnie with Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.  The movie was produced by popular Pastor, T.D.Jakes.

The casting is story for another day. Terrence Howard’s good looks came between me and the movie and did not allow me connect. His portrayal was perfect, the gait, the speech everything except the fact that he was just too fine to be a Mandela and that was a major distraction for me.

However, we saw the struggle and travails of that family. The long absence, the cries and tears of the children being torn apart from their mother who was the only parent they had. The struggle was really their life.

But my wahala here now is the role Winnie played after Nelson went to jail. She took up the struggle, personifying it and earning the moniker, ‘Mother of the Nation’. She brought international interest more than ever before to the struggle and keeping the flames of opposition alive.

Despite the above, she fell. She committed adultery. How was she going to stay for 27years without quenching the fire in her loins? I can imagine her dilemma; if she waited Nelson would come out an old man if at all and may not be able to fire and quench the lust as expected. It was a lose lose case for her. If she did, she was dammed and if she did not she was dammed. This was a sacrifice too high to take for the struggle o.  After each protest march, everybody will go home to their partners to fire and Winnie would go home alone to her pillow.

Well from the movie, she fell. The most captivating scene was when Terrence in his Nelson character, confronted her. She pretended not to hear the question. He lost it and screamed the question and Winnie answered in a manner every married man dreads. ‘You have no right to ask me that question’ my uncle cried. He was broken. No amount of incarceration, flogging or deprivation meted to him by the Apartheid Lords was up to these.  His dear Winnie had ‘chooked’. In that moment of weakness, Winnie had succeeded where the white lords failed. She hit the man where it hurts the most. He wept.

This set me thinking, was Mandela expecting her to wait for him through all those years? Where they having conjugal visits, such that Winnie had no reason to fall for the younger lover? What is her place in history? These questions keep nagging at my heart.

Why is that adultery when committed by women is more painful? Why are women expected to understand when a man cheats but would kill if his woman as much as looks at another man?

Where is Winnie in all of these celebrations marking his death, why is another woman taking her place today? Another woman who never even smelled the struggle, now standing on Nelson’s right hand and enjoying the labor and the sweat of another woman.

If you ask me, that was a series of expensive orgasms Winnie would have had, because today, she is very close to the dustbin of history with all her struggles and deprivation all but forgotten simply because she was human.

The jury is out, should she have waited for 27 years for him?

Edgar J

Edgar J

An Investment banker with a chip on his shoulder. A deep thinker with a different view of the society. Blogger and theatre critic, Edgar passes social commentary on Events, issues and people usually from a humorous standpoint. Sometimes caustic and almost fearless, he mixes his vitriolic abuses with humour such that the message hits you with a buffer that makes you smile. He runs a regular column in MODEMEN Magazine while still keeping his day job as a Financial Adviser cum wealth manager. A keen sportsman, Edgar loves the exciting game of train spotting. As there are no more trains in Lagos, he has taken upon the keen sport of Molue counting. He believes that in the next five years, these legendary modes of transport unique to Lagos would disappear hence his interest in them. A Lagosian by birth and a Shomolu man by residence. Welcome to Chantal’s....


  1. It really is not fair the treatment being mete out on Winnie. She is/was only human. She deserves a space in history for her struggles. Why should one mistake erase her sacrifices and deprivations from our memories? Except of course maybe she and Mandiba had conjugal visits. But who are we to judge?

  2. Really it is not fair she is not she kept the flame when it was dark, she fought when he was weak as human it is unfair to forget all this

  3. I.need 2 watch this movie, but 27years is.long time, c’mon, it’s easier 4 people 2 judge the wrong things that people do.l than appreciate the good things.

  4. I don’t know who wrote this tripe, but it sounds like something out of the 1950’s. “…there is no justification for adultery on the part of the woman”. Are you serious? Women are “expected” to “understand” if a man commits adultery? So Winnie Mandela, who obviously waited 27 years too long for her husband, judging from the thanks she got for it is in “the dustbin of history”? Not in my opinion she isn’t. Mrs. Mandela apparently was not in favor of being accomodating to those white demons who had screwed over other people for far too long, and she was not in favor of them being allowed to get away with what they had done. With all due respect to Nelson Mandela, I agree with his wife and believe he should have taken a much harder line against them. In fact, he should have kicked them out of the country long ago, and they would have been lucky to get out there with what they could carry.

  5. wateva winnie did is understandable,i mean sh stood by him al these years and this is what she gets how unfair,and now graca wateva gets al the praise i guec we as south africans should stand up for our mother

  6. She can keep her place, as long as the people of Africa keep her lifted up. They can write her place in history not Hollywood.

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