The life and struggles of late anti-Apartheid icon Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela – Mandela came alive in Yola at the weekend at the American University of Nigeria, which held a memorial service in her honour.
AUN’s contingent of South African students organised the evening of solidarity songs, tributes, poetry recitations and personal recollections and was supported by expatriate and Nigerian members of the community.
AUN is home to several students from South Africa and many other African countries.
Drawing from South African mythology, a third year International and Comparative Politics major Luyand Khanyile said Winnie-Madikizela Mandela ‘did not die but multiplied’ a reference to the popular ownership of the struggle she led against Apartheid and injustice, and how those tribulations defined her life.
Other South African students, Jeremiah Sello Mafokoane, Ntuthuko Buthelezi, Kebone Mofokeng and Alex Gekpe, delivered stirring eulogies in honor of the ‘Mother of the Nation.’
Ms. Kebone, a Petroleum Chemistry major from Orange State, recited a poem for Winnie, from the work of Vangile Gantsho.
Paying his last respects, Provost of American University of Nigeria, Professor Muhammadou Kah, described Winnie as a formidable and phenomenal heroine, whose commitment, contributions, leadership and centrality to the resistance to Apartheid is second to none.
Provost Kah, who stood in for President Dawn Dekle, eulogized Winnie who he said represented the Peoples of South Africa to her death, spoke up against injustice regardless of who was in power; a brave, driven, courageous and selfless woman, who stood firmly and said No to oppression.
“We all grew up seeing her as a symbol of hope, selflessness, courage, strength, passion, enthusiasm, dignity, with a huge capacity for leadership and a relentless quest and commitment for freedom for her peoples.
“She never claimed to be perfect in her approach and tactics to activism and demands for the human rights of her peoples, especially when the heat was up and intense, and within the context of the brutality of the apartheid regime. She stood firm to the end! Indeed, her spirit lives on, and through you, she multiplies” the globally acclaimed professor of Information Systems stated.
Other dignitaries who spoke were the Dean of Students Byron Bullock, who narrated a memorable encounter with the late activist in her hometown of Soweto and in Mr. Byron’s native United States; and Assistant Professor of English Language and published author, Dr. Agatha Ukata, who rendered a rousing tribute in Winnie’s memory.