The funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, which will be held at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium on Saturday, will cause South Africa to “stop and reflect”, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, said. Speaking to the Anglican Communion News Service, Archbishop Thabo said: “the nation – like we did with Albertina Sisulu – will stop and reflect on the democratic values that Winnie Mandela and the people she worked with stood for. The nation will cry, the nation will reflect deeply, and the nation will say ‘how do we move forward?’ in terms of who we are, particularly around the issues of the value of one-another, the respect for one-another, and inter-racial harmony and equality.”
He said that the stadium had “become like a spiritual home for democratic South Africa”, having been host to the funerals of a number of high-profile “icons”. It has been a place “to reflect on the past . . . a place where in the past people cried together, laughed together, danced together [and] played together.”
He said that the death of Madikizela-Mandela marked a “changing of the guard” moment in South Africa. “The old guards who were the stewards and custodians of our struggle, those who led us into democratic South Africa, are moving on. . . Are we mature enough, capable enough, to sustain the vision of a non-racial democratic South Africa where all South Africans flourish?”
When the news of her death broke last Monday (2 April), Archbishop Thabo was in London, for a meeting of the Lambeth Conference 2020 Design Group, which he chairs. He told ACNS that he was “enveloped with a sense of deep pain and sorrow” when her heard that Madikizela-Mandela had died.
“Then I started saying there were good things Winnie did and we need to give thanks to God for those,” he said. “There are mistakes that she made because life threw a lot of curve-balls towards her. But she handled some of those with dignity, but some she really hopelessly failed. But we need to remember the good that Winnie did, as a Methodist Christian, as a courageous woman, as a beautiful woman
“And we need to say ‘what can we learn from who Winnie is?’”
He added: “I want to send my condolences to the family – particularly to the girls who have had to be mature adults while their parents were incarcerated.”