By: Boniswa Matiwane
Lala ngoxolo Qhawekazi
The young liberator: Zindzi as a child
Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter to struggle stalwarts Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela Mandela was called to rest on July 13, 2020. Zindzi was born and raised to the struggle. At the tender age of 3, Zindzi’s father was sentenced to life imprisonment. When she was 12 years old, she reached out to the United Nations and asked them to protect her mother and herself from South African authorities. Her childhood was met with a great deal of trauma and difficulty. Zindzi moved with her mother as they were facing tremendous threat from authorities. This disturbed her education and childhood as they were constantly moving. Zindzi and her sister took up the role of being the mouth-piece of their imprisoned parents. In her anthology “Black As I am”, one is able to feel the anger that Zindzi had from her turbulent childhood. Zindzi at her young age responded to the call to fight for liberation. She has been described as being an angry young woman who was a voice of young people.
What does the passing of Zindzi mean to me as a young African woman?
African women in history are often absent, if there are present the profile is that of a particular African woman. Girl children in African culture are not known to contribute to anything but to marry and give birth to the heir of their matrimonial home. Although this is still not a strong culture, it is an unspoken cultural norm. The role of girl children remains to start a family and run the household. Zindzi Mandela has made it clear that it is important to be a rebel rouser. African women are allowed to be rebels with a cause.
Being born into a family that is renowned brings its own sets of challenges. This in itself is important even in an intersectional conversation. Whether one is born in an acclaimed or an impoverished family, you are met with the challenge to rise above and create your own name. Growing up in the shadow of iconic parents, Zindzi worked extensively to build her own brand. She wanted to be known as a voice of her own and a voice of the people then the daughter of struggle icons. I can define myself for myself and be known firstly as a writer before I am known as my mother’s daughter. Zindzi’s life is telling of the power of being resilient.
Dear African woman
Your voice is important, you are capable. Fight for your seat at the table. Sitting quiet will not serve you. Ruffle a few feathers, don’t hold back. Girl child fight for what you believe in. In the face of gender based violence let Zindzi’s courage and bravery give us the courage to say “ENOUGH is ENOUGH” and continue the fight.
“Whenever someone tries to silence you, you must be as loud as possible.” Zindzi Mandela
Wathint’ umfazi wathint’ Imbokodo
A legacy of defiance
Zindzi’s ability to create her own narrative and paint her own discourse is inspiring. Women across the world are able to find courage in this . Zindzi’s involvement and her fight captures how women are not only just being a part of history but instead are writing their own history and are changing the course of history. History books used to only speak of a certain type of woman, as the rebel rousers have been silenced. Notwithstanding the pivotal role that they have played. Furthermore Zindzi has paved the way for many African women to access the global stage and shows the work toward transformation in gender equality. Gender in politics is no longer just a descriptive representation ticking quote obligations it is about activism.
In closing, this fearless queen was able to challenge a critique that an Academic and gender specialist from the UK, Elaine Unterhalter in her work, “Heroic Masculinity in South Africa Autobiographical Writing of the Anti-Apartheid Struggle” notes, “…in the discourse of heroic masculinity women may be un-gendered equal comrades, they may be heroines who inspire, but somehow do not live the struggle. They may be the wounded, or the innocent supportive relatives. In all of these guises they have no autonomy, no different political interests, and no struggle. Their views are always expressed or interpreted by men” The participation of women across the world has indeed been invigorated, the bodies of women are regaining their own voices.
Rest in Power, Zindzi Mandela