Book review: Winnie Mandela: A life

Damn, one of the most difficult book to read for me for many reasons.

You guys need to understand that I never was really aware of Winnie’s importance and her impact on South African history and apartheid fight until I moved in Johannesburg and immersed myself in the country’s culture and history. When I spoke to friends of mine or to people in the street and at events about Mandela, they all coldly told me that he is celebrated by the outsiders but the real hero is Winnie. I never understood why the hate was so vivid and I took it upon myself to discover who is Winnie Mandela.

I visited the Mandela house in the township of Soweto with a good friend of mine who is a pure Zulu and who’s family lived the apartheid closely as they live in Soweto. God bless her she gave me so much back story and information about the apartheid and south African history that I questioned every documentary I saw and every media information provided.

Therefore when I got this book, I decided to read it before the Mandela biography because I really wanted to know who is Winnie.


Everyone has an opinion about Winnie Mandela, and usually a strong one. She has been adored, feared and hated more than any other woman in South African history. But few people know much about the life behind the headlines, myths and sound-bites. This biography is an in-depth and intimate look at Winnie Mandela’s personal and political life, and takes the reader on a remarkable journey of understanding. The book traces her development from talented and privileged child to dedicated social worker, caring wife and mother, and fiery political activist. It examines her vigorous campaign to keep the name of her jailed husband alive, and explores her own harassment, imprisonment and isolation at the hands of the security police. Finally, the book investigates the events that have made Winnie Mandela such a controversial figure: the allegations of kidnapping and murder, her divorce from Mandela, and the current fraud charges. Winnie Mandela’s journey to this point is traced with understanding and honesty, in this fascinating and balanced biography of a most enigmatic woman.

My opinion:


From the beginning Winnie was destined to greatness, regardless or her union with Nelson. She was an accomplished woman before meeting him and since their union she became confident, powerful and the mother of a nation. This in depth look into Winnie’s personal life as well as her political one, help us understand this enigmatic powerful woman and the struggles she lived being a figure of the ANC and wife to Mandela.

Winnie’s story is traumatizing, chilling, fucking inspiring, tenacity and inspiration. Without her, there is no Nelson Mandela and no apartheid win as she is the backbone who kept the fight alive and who kept Nelson’s name alive. Winnie is simply extraordinary. The author wrote with such good balance and objectivity that you have facts and insights on the controversy and you are left to decide ether or not you believe Winnie or not.

Winnie has lived so many difficult situations but knowing that she was in solitary confinement for a year and a half gave me chills as I cannot fathom the pain and suffering she had gone through. And I visited the prison where Mandela and the ANC people were held and some tortured, I am telling you that place was really scary as you could feel the spirits and pain in the walls and all over. One of the difficult places I visited and I want to go back just to get the detailed tour where they give you historic information and details.

Winnie saved South Africa and that is a fact. She truly is the mother of this nation and fought until the end with all she had.

Winnie Mandela appears in WINNIE by Pascale Lamche, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Felix Meyburgh.

This book is a must read for any person loving political books or biographies about strong leaders and their upcoming. A MUST READ.