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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was undoubtedly one of the most influential people South Africa has seen. The struggle icon and activist, who lost her life in April this year, has touched the lives of many people across the country and the world.

While you might have heard stories about the stalwart, one of the best ways to get intimate with the story of her life is by watching the Michael Samuels feature film Mrs Mandela starring Sophie Okenedo as Winnie, which is streaming on Showmax this month (available from Thursday, 16 August). You’ll see how her circumstances shaped her into the formidable figure she became.

A lot of people, including celebrities, have been very vocal about the role Mam’ Winnie has played in their lives. Here are four women who have spoken out about the impact she had on them.

1. Nomzamo Mbatha

Speaking to Showmax about what she has learned from the “mother of the nation”, Nomzamo Mbatha said: “She lived up to her name sake.”

My namesake, #Nomzamo Mini emnandi kuwe Nkondekazi, Qhawekazi, Mama wesizwe. Wena Nzwakazi eya khiwa kakuhle. Anga uThixo aku gcine ukhule unga khokhobi. You have carved your legacy into the annals of time. Our history reverberates with your heroism, selflessness & loving spirit. Your strength & resilience refused to cower to the face of the murderous apartheid regime. In your lifetime may OUR activism not be reduced to meaningless hashtags & trends, but be filled with your spirit of fearless action. From you we learn to pick up umkhonto (spear) & forge forward. I treasure our moments. The love & words of blessings you always shower me with… Your words of encouragement & wisdom you always impress upon me: “let it never be about you…” Thank you for being my resonance. My source of resilience. My grandmother… thank you for allowing me to be one of your grand babies😍Happy birthday to you, the original #ItGirl the flame of #BlackGirlMagic #Qhawekazi #Madikizela #Mandela #Nomzamo #Nosizwe #Winnifred #XhosaGoddess #AfricanQueen

33.7k Likes, 98 Comments – Nomzamo Mbatha 🇿🇦 (@nomzamo_m) on Instagram: “My namesake, #Nomzamo Mini emnandi kuwe Nkondekazi, Qhawekazi, Mama wesizwe. Wena Nzwakazi eya…”

Her resilience is another thing that Nomzamo admired about Mam’ Winnie. The Isibaya star also added that she has learned a great deal about the ability of the human spirit to persevere against all odds. Everybody knows how much Nomzamo loved Mam’ Winnie. She has shared the story of how she was named after the late anti-apartheid activist. In an interview on Real Talk with Anele, she explained that her grandmother gave her that name.

Nomzamo, who also advocates for mental health, refugees and other causes, said she asked her grandmother about the meaning behind her name. “I’m so grateful that I was named after such a giant, such a spirit…”

2. Mpho Lestholonyane

Mpho Letsholonyane is another star who’s taken a few lessons from the late icon. She told Showmax: “What I have learnt from Mama Winnie is that strength comes from within. You’re only broken by what you allow to break you.”

For your sacrifices. For the pain you endured. For the days you spent away from your kids. For the love you had for us as a nation. Bruised Battered Never broken You showed us the ultimate strength of a woman and for that I thank you. Gone but never forgotten. Lala ngoxolo MaMsuthu Mama we Sizwe Ya gago tema o ekgathile… ✊🏽 #IAmWinnieMandela #RIPWinnieMandela 📷 @trevor_zondi

2,394 Likes, 8 Comments – Mpho Letsholonyane (@mpho_letsholonyane) on Instagram: “For your sacrifices. For the pain you endured. For the days you spent away from your kids. For the…”

The TV and radio personality added: “Also, that when you’re determined, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. It took her 27 years to get her husband back, but eventually she did. Imagine she had given up? What would’ve become of us as a people? She was power, resilience and strength personified.”

3. Salamina Mosese

Actress and TV presenter Salamina Mosese remembered a quote attributed to Mama, which is one of her favourites. It reads: “If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves. Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we co-operate with other groups. Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority.”

We did it for Mama Winnie ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾 #iamwinniemandela #allblackwithdoek #winniemandela #southafrica #womandla #amandla #longlivewinniemandela

3,120 Likes, 16 Comments – Salamina Mosese (@salaminamosese) on Instagram: “We did it for Mama Winnie ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾 #iamwinniemandela #allblackwithdoek #winniemandela #southafrica…”

Salamina also told Showmax: “From this as a young woman growing up in present day South Africa, she reminds us that we are still fighting for our freedoms, big or small. She reminds us to continue to fight for our dreams, stand together as a united force, and forge ahead.”

4. Naomi Campbell

International supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is close to the Mandela family, shared an emotional speech at Winnie’s funeral this year. She spoke about what the “mother of the nation” has taught a lot people, including herself.

“On a personal level, I feel that Winnie represents something that we all have within us… She taught us not to be limited in our thoughts, reminding us to always stay true to who we are. Winnie helped us to overcome our fears and gave us the courage to dig deep and discover things about ourselves, and to always strive for freedom.”

#R I P #MAMA WINNIE I LOVE YOU ♥️♥️🇿🇦🙏🏾

88.3k Likes, 975 Comments – Naomi Campbell (@naomi) on Instagram: “#R I P #MAMA WINNIE I LOVE YOU ♥️♥️🇿🇦🙏🏾”

The British model added: “I was lucky to get to know her quite closely, and one of the things she always said to me and embedded in me was [that] I must use my God-given ability and strength to make an impact in this world.”

Learn more about the struggle icon, anti-apartheid activist and “mother of the nation” by streaming Mrs Mandela, on Showmax from 16 August. In the meantime, stream MTV Base Meets Winnie Mandela, available until 10 August.

Start watching now »

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About the author

Siyathemba Ben

I'm a journalist and have worked for some of the coolest South African publications and TV channels as a writer and social media/content manager. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading a book or watching Friends reruns.

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