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Move to Johannesburg In 1953, upon her father’s advice, Winnie was admitted to the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work in Johannesburg, where Nelson Mandela (who was already gaining national renown), was the patron.[vii] It was the first time she left the Transkei and a formative moment in her life.It was in Johannesburg that she saw the full effects of Apartheid on a daily basis, but also where she discovered her love of fashion, dancing and the city.It was there that she matriculated and distinguished herself as a person with exceptional leadership qualities.It was also there, under the tutelage of teachers who were all Fort Hare graduates, that she began to become more politicised.Mother of the Nation, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, tragically passed away on Monday after a long illness. Nelson Mandela and Winnie were married a year later. Mama Winnie spent 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison. Nomzamo Winfreda Zanyiwe Madikizela was born on 26 September 1936, in a remote village called e Mbongweni in the Eastern Cape. Winnie is the fourth child of nine children, she had seven sisters and one brother. Later she earned a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand. When Winnie accepted a position at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto after her graduation, she became the first black social worker in South Africa. She met a dashing lawyer, who was also an anti-apartheid activist, in 1957. Columbus, her father, was a history teacher and her mother Gertrude taught domestic science. Winnie and her eight siblings were separated and sent to live with different relatives. She was top of her class in school and was even head girl at Shawbury High School. Despite education restrictions on black people during Apartheid, she worked hard and received a degree in social work from the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg.

In time she came to understand that her father’s involvement would likely only have made the situation worse, and moreover, that a byproduct of Apartheid was that from an early age Black children became accustomed to seeing their parents humiliated without any attempt to protest in defence of themselves.[v] Luckily for Winnie, Bantu education – the hated Apartheid policy of introducing separate education syllabi for Whites and Blacks – was only introduced in the early 1950s.

Secondly, soon after her sister’s death, Winnie’s mother also developed the disease and died.

However, shortly before her mother passed away she gave birth to a baby boy, whom Winnie took responsibility for during her mother’s incapacitation, and after her death.

Therefore she was able to benefit from an education that was on par with her White peers at the time.

She passed her junior certificate (Standard 8) with distinction and then went on to study at Shawsbury, a Methodist mission school at Qumbu.

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