Born 1936. Wife of Nelson Mandela for 38 years. They married in 1958 and had 2 daughters, Zenani and Zindzi . Married 38 years of which 27 her husband was in prison. She was a qualified social worker. Due to her political activities, Winnie was regularly detained by the South African government. From the 1960’s she was tortured, subjected to house arrest, kept under surveillance, held in solitary confinement in Pretoria prison for a 18 months and then banished to a remote town called Brandfort where she was isolated for 9 years. In the early years she sent her children to be schooled in Swaziland in order to keep them safe. She organized local clinics, campaigned actively for equal rights and was promoted by the ANC as a symbol of its struggle against apartheid. In 1975 she became leader of the ANC’s Women’s League.
By 1984 Winnie had served nearly seven years in prison at various times. In the early years she was called ‘The Mother of the Nation’. She was the voice of Nelson Mandela who she was allowed to visit in jail and she was a political activist in her own right. It was during that period I did this portrait.
By 1984 after two decades of victimization, she drastically changed her tactics. She felt that organized violence was the only way to achieve freedom as did Nelson Mandela.
She formed her own protection and body guard of young men in Soweto where she live. They were called the Mandela United Football Club who were very violent. She was accused of being instrumental in the deaths of 4 youths who she said were informers. After that Nelson Mandela and the ANC dissociated themselves from her. She was brought to trial but never convicted.
After the ANC was elected to power she gained second place in the ANC parliamentary elections which should have made her duputy Prime Minister. instead she was made Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology from 1994-1996. She is still popular among the poor of Soweto who see her as their champion.