Just a mere 27 months after the untimely death of our Great Mother of Africa, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who transitioned on 2 April 2018, her youngest daughter, Zindzi Mandela, made so much in her image, was laid to rest right next to her mother in Johannesburg, South Africa on 17 July 2020.
Zindzi’s death will, of a surety, be felt by her family, the people of South Africa, and the world at large for years to come.
I was so blessed to have met Zindzi when she was a young woman, and what amazing times we had over the years.
No matter whether eating some of the best food in the world prepared by none other than Mama Winnie, falling out laughing on the veranda in Orlando West at some anecdote that Mama Winnie told us, anxiously awaiting results of medical tests, flying across the world, walking the plains of the Holy Land, or hearing her strong and kind laughter on the Thursday before she transitioned as she thanked me for the 1000th time for taking such good care of her mom and reminding me of how much my beloved BFF loved me, followed by a kind and loving text assuring me of how much she loved me and signed “your daughter Zindzi,” Zin always showed care and love and respect for those who shared the walk of life with her.
And as much as I ascribe to the reality that we never really die as long as we are held in the hearts and spirits of those who remain, I AM going to miss Zin for all that she was, for all that she is, and for all the hope and promise she was in the process of giving to the legacy of her Great Mother and for the benefit of our nation -- really and truly she is gone way too soon.
When I consider the fire in her belly, the passion in her heart for justice, fairness and well-being for others, the power in her soul, I am reminded of so many strong, courageous Black warrior women, who were created for and destined for unravelling the status quo as was she.
Great women like The Dahomey Amazons: The All-Female Warriors of Benin in West Africa; Sojourner Truth, the African American warrior who spoke out and stood against racial and sexual inequalities; Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitionist who risked her life time and time again to free more than 300 enslaved men, women and children, and was a Union spy during the American Civil War; Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh one of the great leaders of the Mino.
In 1890, King Behanzin used his female Mino fighters alongside the male soldiers to battle the French forces during the First Franco-Dahomean War, wherein the French army lost many battles because of the female warrior’s skill in battle.
Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa of the Edweso tribe of the Asante, who fought and beat the British; Queen Nanny, a Jamaican national hero, a well-known leader of the Jamaican Maroons in the 18th century.
Amanirenas, one of the greatest queen mothers, who ruled over the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush in northeast Africa and led her army against the Roman Emperor Augustus and won.
Carlota Lukumí, a Yoruba captured and taken to Cuba to work on a sugar plantation who in 1843, along with another enslaved woman named Fermina, led an organized rebellion at the Triumvarato sugar plantation and won.
I think of Queen Nzinga Mbande, a highly intelligent and powerful 17th-century ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (modern-day Angola), who around the turn of the 17th century fearlessly and cleverly fought for the freedom of her kingdoms against the Portuguese.
I think of Muhumusa, a feared leader of the East African Nyabingi priestesses who was influential in Rwanda and Uganda and in 1911, she proclaimed “she would drive out the Europeans” and “that the bullets of the Wazungu would turn to water against her.”
I think of my BFF, Nomzamo Winifred (Winnie) Zanyiwe Madikizela Mandela her intelligence, beauty, fearlessness, and courage that kept a freedom movement alive with her capacity to inspire millions to be free.
And now added to the annuals of Great Warrior Women is Zindziswa (Zindzi) Mandela, who possessed the fearlessness to battle against apartheid, the fortitude to resist against injustices, and the fervor to defy inequality.
So big is Zindzi’s life, so powerful her own voice that I hesitate to speak of her in the past tense, for I know while the body expires, when we are in God, our spirit never dies, rather we merely transition to a higher plane.
Zindzi was a fortress of passion and energy. She was charming, eloquent, very funny, often making fun of the past hurts and troubles she and her family endured, when she allowed herself to think about them at all, and she was very, very brave.
Zindzi was a strong, bold and valiant activist for righteousness, the courageous defender of the weak, an unafraid protector of the downtrodden, and an audacious voice for the forgotten, no matter the cost.
A survivor, who endured unutterable trauma and indescribable horrors at the hands of the heinous apartheid system.
Often branded a terrorist, a troublemaker, names called to deflect from the malevolent behaviours of the oppressor who in truth and fact were the real terrorists, killers and looters, but no matter what the enemy called her, Zindzi rose to the challenges and contended against the oppressors, heroically.
In her beloved and cherished role as mother, she was deeply divided with the tasks of balancing the responsibility of caring for herself, giving to her children, and fighting for her nation and its freedom.
Zindzi fought for the needs of millions of other children, not born of her body, but born in and of her spirit.
Having seen and heard firsthand of unspeakable things done to her mother, that no child should have to endure, memories etched permanently in her spirit, although needing care for her tattered heart, Zindzi always found a way to prevail.
Even though scarred from the pain of her past and bearing a responsibility to right the wrongs, almost too heavy for a mere mortal to bear, Zindzi carried her load with dignity and grace.
Amazingly, she had compassion for others, even those who disappointed her, optimistically trusting that maybe they just did not understand the miles of bad road she had traversed.
No matter the cost, Zindzi lived in the framing of a sublime truth uttered eons ago by Galileo: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
How blessed we have been, even for too short a time, to have been graced by Zindzi’s use of good sense, kindness, forbearance, amazing reason, and sharp intellect.
Truly, she has left a path of positive action, courage, fortitude and loving care for us to follow allowing us the material of her life’s living to forge a bridge of justice, peace and well- being for our people.
“For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever… Their righteousness endures forever.”
VIVA ZINDZI VIVA!
“For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have distributed freely; they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever…”.