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Move to Johannesburg In 1953, upon her father’s advice, Winnie was admitted to the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work in Johannesburg, where Nelson Mandela (who was already gaining national renown), was the patron.[vii] It was the first time she left the Transkei and a formative moment in her life.It was in Johannesburg that she saw the full effects of Apartheid on a daily basis, but also where she discovered her love of fashion, dancing and the city.Mother of the Nation, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, tragically passed away on Monday after a long illness. Nelson Mandela and Winnie were married a year later. Mama Winnie spent 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. Nomzamo Winfreda Zanyiwe Madikizela was born on 26 September 1936, in a remote village called e Mbongweni in the Eastern Cape. Winnie is the fourth child of nine children, she had seven sisters and one brother. Later she earned a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand. When Winnie accepted a position at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto after her graduation, she became the first black social worker in South Africa. She met a dashing lawyer, who was also an anti-apartheid activist, in 1957. Columbus, her father, was a history teacher and her mother Gertrude taught domestic science. Winnie and her eight siblings were separated and sent to live with different relatives. She was top of her class in school and was even head girl at Shawbury High School. Despite education restrictions on black people during Apartheid, she worked hard and received a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg.They had two daughters during their marriage, Zenani and Zindzi. She was fired from her job at Baragwanath Hospital because of her activism as a member of the ANC. All she had in her cell was a bucket, a plastic bottle for three glasses of water, and a mug. When she was released she went on to organise the Black Women’s Federation and the Black Parents’ Association. Because of her continued activism, she was banished and confined to the small Free State town of Brandfort. Winnie stood by Mandela when he was released from prison.This incident was followed by another, equally formative one.
Colombus, to all intents and purposes, was a proud man who greatly valued educated and who saw the importance of educating his children about their Pondo roots as well as traditional academic subjects.
One day, Winnie recalls seeing a scene in a shop with her father, whereby a Black man was squatting on his haunches and breaking off pieces off bread to feed to his wife while she breastfed their baby.
All of a sudden a White youth – the son of the shop owners, came charging towards them and yelling that he wouldn’t have kaffirs making a mess in his store.
Due to financial constraints, Winnie’s sister, Nancy, to whom Winnie was close, dropped out of school and worked casual jobs to ensure that Winnie’s education could continue.[vi] When Winnie returned from Shawsbury with a first-class pass, she discovered that her father had remarried.
His new wife was a woman by the name of Hilda Nophikela, whom all of the Midikizela children welcomed into the family fold, especially Winnie.