South Africa is the most exciting place to be right now. It is a period of heightened political conversations around the life of our beloved Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. This article is my expression of freedom of speech and by no means meant to serve any political agenda, but just to share some insights.

It’s been almost 3 weeks since mama passed on and this past Saturday we witnessed as she was laid to rest. The aftermath of her funeral service has lingered through the media, social media and general conversations through campaigns like #JuliusMalemaChallenge.

This campaign serves as a symbol of great humour as millions partook of the ‘challenge’. However, in the opinions of some political analysts there are very serious implications that Julius Malema’s speech carries. At the core of his speech was his recognition of the life of Mama Winnie and her significant, yet sometimes overlooked contribution in bringing about change in our nation. In his speech, he also took a serious jab at those he believed had not afforded Mama the recognition and dignity she deserved during her lifetime.

I am no political analyst; just an ordinary citizen of South Africa and to witness such complex political conversations in my nation leaves me with mixed emotions. This whole season unfolding as it does, feels like a love triangle between Malema’s zeal for Mama, Mama’s Winnie’s life and us.

Who is the “us” in this love triangle?

To me, the “us” is the millions of South Africans and other global citizens who don’t have the full context of history, who are not aware of the political complexities and frankly who are upset that this zeal for Mama’s legacy only seems to be heightened now that she is gone, and we ask the question, how do we truly honour mama?

The “us” is those who recognise the real enemy. The real enemy is inequality in various forms in our nation and across the world. Truth is, if millions of our people still go to bed hungry and live under the most degrading of human standards, we have a lot to do in honour of Mama Winnie’s legacy.

The “us” is those who look critically at campaigns such as #IAMWINNIEMANDELA because we deeply introspect and ask, can we really be Winnie Mandela? Can we sacrifice our marriages and time with our children for a greater cause? Can we suffer discrimination and gruesome physical abuse? Are we willing to be accused of crimes? Are we willing to be often misunderstood?  Are we willing to lose the best years of our lives so that other people’s lives can be better?

I love how the CEO of the Business Women’s Association of South Africa put it, “Mama Winnie had uncommon courage.” It is this “uncommon courage” displayed that has the nation on its feet and why Malema’s speech was this impactful.

Mama Winnie was a gift to a generation and she lived out her purpose as best as she could. If indeed the “us” who say we love Mama and we honour her, for her contribution to the rights that we enjoy today, then we need to rethink how we express this love in our generation.

In my opinion the struggle journey continues. Yes, Apartheid as an institution of racially segregating people was destroyed legally. But the after effects of Apartheid still live on. We must take the baton from Mama Winnie’s generation and recognise that we also must tackle socio-economic inequality head on.

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