SA students celebrate Winnie Mandela @ AUN

By Ebele Orakpo

THE late anti-Apartheid icon, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela has been described as a formidable and phenomenal heroine, whose commitment, contributions, leadership and centrality to the resistance to apartheid is second to none. This was made known by the Provost of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, Professor Muhammadou Kah while paying his last respects on April 12 as he joined South African students who held a memorial service in her honour, to celebrate  the life and struggles of the anti-apartheid icon.

AUN’s contingent of South African students organised the evening of solidarity songs, tributes, poetry recitations and personal recollections, supported by expatriate and Nigerian members of the university community. AUN is home to several students from South Africa and many other African countries.


Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Drawing from South African mythology, Luyand Khanyile, a third year International and Comparative Politics major, said Winnie Madikizela-Mandela ‘did not die but multiplied,’ a reference to the popular ownership of the struggle she led against apartheid and injustice, and how those tribulations defined her life.

Other South African students, Jeremiah Sello Mafokoane, Ntuthuko Buthelezi, Kebone Mofokeng and Alex Gekpe, eulogised the Mother of the Nation, as Winnie was popularly known. Ms. Kebone, a Petroleum Chemistry major from Orange State, recited a poem for Winnie, from the work of Vangile Gantsho.

Kah, who represented AUN President, Dr. Dawn Dekle, noted that “Winnie represented South Africans until her death. She spoke up against injustice regardless of who was in power; a brave, driven, courageous and selfless woman, who stood firmly and said No to oppression. We all grew up seeing her as a symbol of hope, selflessness, courage, strength, passion, enthusiasm, dignity, with a huge capacity for leadership and a relentless quest and commitment for freedom for her peoples.

“She never claimed to be perfect in her approach and tactics to activism and demands for the human rights of her peoples, especially when the heat was intense, and within the context of the brutality of the apartheid regime. She stood firm to the end! Indeed, her spirit lives on, and through you, she multiplies,” said Kah, a professor of Information Systems.

Other dignitaries who spoke were the Dean of Students, Dr Byron Bullock, who narrated a memorable encounter with the late activist in her hometown of Soweto and in Byron’s native US; and Assistant Professor of English Language and author, Dr. Agatha Ukata, who rendered a rousing tribute in Winnie’s memory.

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