I note with no joy, but considerable relief, that Winnie Mandela has died.
I wish hell on no man, or woman for that matter. It’s a fearful thing to consider eternity without God . . . but if anyone deserved it, from an earthly perspective, it would be hard not to include Winnie Mandela among them. Her reputation in Soweto during the worst of the unrest in the 1980’s and early 1990’s was absolutely sickening. People were terrified of running afoul of her, and the young thugs who made up her “Mandela United Football Club” were nothing more than a political-criminal gang in (very thin) disguise. I ran into them on a couple of memorable occasions. On one of them, I got away by the skin of my teeth, leaving a couple of the “footballers” in rather worse condition. Sucked to be them, I guess.
I’ve no idea how many people were murdered, raped or brutalized on the orders of Winnie Mandela (or, for that many, how many suffered at her hands personally). I found it entirely logical that Nelson Mandela divorced her as soon as he could after his release from prison. Her attitudes and actions threatened to destroy his attempts at nation-building, and damn nearly succeeded in doing so.
On the other hand, I’m forced to concede that the way she was treated by the apartheid regime would have tried the patience of a saint, let alone a political activist. Perhaps, if I’d been treated that way, maybe my conscience and my soul would have become hardened, too? I’ll never know . . . and for that, I most sincerely thank God. Tragically, the hard shell she grew around her translated to utter impatience with and disdain for anyone who would not cooperate with her, and her revolutionary ideals, to the fullest possible extent. You were for her, or against her – and if the latter, your safety could not be guaranteed. In Soweto, in the 1980’s, that’s the way it was. I know. I was there.
I shall shed no tears for Winnie Mandela: but I shall, even if reluctantly, pray for her soul. She stands now before the Judge whom we must all face one day. As I hope for mercy for my own sins, I shall pray for His mercy for hers, in obedience to the Golden Rule.