My brief encounter with
WINNIE MADIKIZELA MANDELA
My world and that of Winnie started off on the opposite ends of the spectrum – in almost every respect.
As a very young person, I was vaguely aware of the existence of Winnie. In later years, as my political awareness increased, and as the ‘struggle’ intensified, so did my awareness of her – also my hostility. My perception of her, crafted by my knowledge at the time, did not fit the model of the future which I envisaged for myself.
The world in which I found myself and Winnie’s cause was in conflict – a conflict which gradually increased in intensity.
And then one day my path, and that of Winnie, crossed on a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Should somebody ask me what I ‘know’ about Winnie (not what I have read about her), I will only be able to repeat what I saw and experienced on that day. We talked about trivialities as if we were old acquaintances. We did not attempt to reconcile our worlds; it was as if reconciliation had already taken place. As we were chatting away, she held my hand – a complete stranger to her – as if I was her dear friend. That says it all.