CityLife Arts

Life and times of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to be celebrated at Windybrow on Saturday

BY Edward Tsumele

When Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died in 2018, Orlando Stadium in Soweto, the venue where her funeral service took place, was full to the rafters. Masses of people from the surrounding sprawling township of Soweto and from afar, in far flung provinces, had come in big numbers to pay their last respects to a woman some had long given the name The Mother of the Nation. The streets around Orlando were full of people moving up and down. The masses of people walking in the streets had to give way to fast driving cars with blue lights as VIPs from different political parties made their way to the giant stadium to pay their last respects to a woman, bizarrely both vilified and celebrated in South Africa. Such was the life of Winnie-Madikizela Mandela who was both loved and hated in equal measure in this country, depending where one stood in as far as her legacy is concerned. While her legacy will remain a contested terrain, just like such legacies of many legends on the African continent, who fought to liberate its people from colonialism, and in the case of South Africa, colonialism and apartheid, what cannot be contested though is Winnie’s influence in society across the age and political divides.

I remember well when I arrived at the stadium, I had to make peace with the fact that I was not going to be able to get inside the stadium and watch the funeral service in close proximity. It was just too full for one to try and make their way in there. People loved Winnie as the attendance at her funeral demonstrated.

All what this points out to, is the fact that hate her or love her, Winnie was an immensely powerful woman, who had a lot of influence on South African society.

Some however feel that the woman who was once married to the late President of first Democratic South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela, was not celebrated enough in her life time. That however is a discussion for another day. But for now, the focus is on Windybrow Centre of the Arts in deep Hillbrow this Saturday, August 21, 2021, where a celebratory cross country, southern African event is taking place.

And right, the woman at the centre of this event is none other than the late Winnie. The women themed event, Thari – Weaving the inclusivity tapestry will take place on August 21 August 202, at this venue in the densely populated flatland of Hillbrow.

The title of the event is broadly named Thari – The Moral Fabric dialogue and exhibition, and it is geared to elevate the stories of society’s leading ladies through animated podcasts. This year’s theme is Weaving the inclusivity tapestry and will take place at the Windybrow Arts Centre in partnership with the Women’s History Museum of Zambia and the Mandela Legacy, both in a physical format, as well as a live facebook feed.

“This year we will be celebrating the life of the formidable late icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela one of our leading ladies.  Winnie is amongst the very few late icons less celebrated. The podcast is designed as a tool to educate young women on those that have paved the way and whose legacy stands the test of time. The course shaped in many ways across Africa till today, we spoke to the women at the Women’s History Museum who shared stories that date back as early as the 1600 century. Amongst the countries that were highlighted were women from Zimbabwe, Zambia and  Malawi,” says  Market Theatre Foundation in a statement released ahead of the event. Windbrow Centre of the Arts is a business unit of the Market Theatre Foundation situated in Newtown, and Windybrow’s artistic programming is Pan African in character and design, no doubt designed to be in sync with its immediate environment of Hillbrow, a place that is home to the African Diaspora, hailing from several parts of the African continent, mainly as refugees fleeing political conflicts back home.

“The leading ladies started a movement which is prominent when telling stories of our history. In that we ensure to defying the narrative being written by men and for men, overall making women’s stories inaccessible to young women. In the weaving of the tapestry for inclusivity its important the movement continues as the battle with inclusivity continues.

“The leading ladies movement is growing across the continent giving special attention to women who have made significantcontributions to African people, demolishing the many myths that African women didn’t hold prominent positions or make remarkable changes in society. Altogether making room for young women who are leading this movement in their own right to join hands to carry the baton forward.

“Highlighting how women across Africa wear “Doek” and it is part of their lived experience. A tool which carries so much volume in the becoming of age, a signifier of strength and wisdom prominent as a common thread to the culture of all women.

“Join us this year with your “Doek”. As part of the event there will be a dialogue discussing and unpacking the theme. Followed by an exhibition of the podcast of the stories of women from Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, will be shown at the Windybrow Arts Centre.

Join us for the online exhibition launch with a dialogue titled Weaving the Inclusivity Tapestryon the 21st August 2021 at 13h00Windybrow Arts Centre Facebook page,” the organisers of the event state in a media release sent out to the media this week.

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