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Winnie Mandela (born 1936), South Africa’s first black professional social welfare worker, chose service to needy people and devotion of her energy and skill to the struggle for equality and justice for all people in South Africa. After her marriage to Nelson Mandela in 1958, she suffered harassment, imprisonment, and periodic banishment for her continuing involvement in that struggle. In 1992, the marriage ended. 

1. The person the world knew as Winnie Mandela began life as Nomzamo (“she who strives,” “she who has to undergo trials”) Winifred (Winnie) Madikizela, daughter of Columbus and Gertrude Madikizela.

2.  Winnie Madikizela–Mandela was born on the 26th of September 1936 in the village of eMbongweni Eastern Cape Province

3.  Despite restrictions on the education of blacks during apartheid, she earned a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg making her South Africa’s first black professional social welfare worker, and several years later earned a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand

4.  In 1957 Winnie Madikizela Mandela met a lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, and they got  married in 1958 and had two daughters, Zenani (born 1959) and Zindzi (born 1960)

5.  For many of those years, Winnie Madikizela Mandela was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area, except for the times she was allowed to visit her husband at the prison on Robben Island 

6.  Beginning in 1969, she spent eighteen months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison

7.  Winnie Madikizela Mandela held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women’s League. She is a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

8.  Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Nelson Mandela divorced in March 1996

9.  In June 2007, the Canadian High Commission in South Africa declined to grant Winnie Madikizela Mandela a visa to travel to Toronto, Canada, where she was scheduled to attend a gala fundraising concert organized by arts organization MusicaNoir, which included the world premiere of The Passion of Winnie, an opera based on her life

10.  Winnie Madikizela Mandela criticised the anti-immigrant violence in May–June 2008 that began in Johannesburg and spread throughout the country and blamed the government’s lack of suitable housing provisions for the sentiments behind the riots. She apologized to the victims of the riots and visited the Alexandra township She offered her home as a shelter for an immigrant family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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11.  Mandela was first portrayed by Alfre Woodard in the TV movie Mandela. Tina Lifford portrayed her in the 1997 TV drama, Mandela and de Klerk. Sophie Okonedo portrayed her in the BBC drama Mrs. Mandela, first broadcast on BBC Four on 25 January 2010

12.  Jennifer Hudson played her in Winnie Mandela, directed by Darrell Roodt, released in Canada by D Films on 16 September 2011

13.  Roodt, Andre Pieterse, and Paul L. Johnson based the film’s script on Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob’s biography, Winnie Mandela: A Life

14.  When the ANC announced the election of its National Executive Committee on 21 December 2007, Winnie Madikizela Mandela placed first with 2845 votes

15.  Winnie Madikizela Mandela is popular among her supporters, who refer to her as the ‘Mother of the Nation’

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