UKZN Honours the Life and Times of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
UKZN’s Social Work department recently hosted a Memorial Service in honour of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the Howard College campus.
While she played a significant role in the struggle for freedom in South Africa, Mama Winnie, as she is affectionately known, was a social worker by profession. According toUKZN lecturer Dr Sibonsile ‘Bonnie’ Zibane,Mama Winnie was the first Black medical social worker at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
Academic leader for the School of Applied Human Sciences, Professor Johannes John-Langba welcomed guests and reminded the audience of Mama Winnie’s work as an action researcher practitioner, a freedom fighter, an advocate for justice, and a philanthropist. John-Langba also challenged the academics, students and practitioners to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ to honour her memory.
Zibane said the School of Applied Human Sciences hosted the memorial service as they believe ‘her name resonates justice, freedom and liberty for all-the characteristics that our discipline aspires to achieve.’
Zibane said: ‘Mama Winnie’s life is a true display of the global definition of the Social work profession, the core mandate and the principles of social work; and most importantly what we stand for as the Discipline of Social Work within the School of Applied Human Sciences.’
The programme was chaired by Ms Nolwazi Ngcobo, who kept the audience energised with political songs and slogans.
First level student, Ms Ntombi Ngcobo, spoke about the importance of Social Work students in sustaining the legacy of Mama Winnie. She said: ‘We cannot afford to wait for Graduation to start performing our duties as social workers. Our communities need us. We must start acting now!’
Ms Zisande Ntsumane, a first level student in the Department, delivered a highly memorable and touching poem about Mama Winnie. Ms Bongie Zengele gave a moving tribute to the distinguished stalwart. She described Mama Winnie’s life as ‘multidimensional’ – resembling the resilience, the scars, the hopes, and the beauty of Black South Africans, particularly Black South African women.
Chairperson of the KZN Department of Health Social Workers’ Forum, Ms Thoko Mdletshe, led the candle light session. Before leading a pledge for social workers, she expressed her appreciation of the visibility and the relationship that UKZN Social Work department is maintaining with its stakeholders. She invited UKZN to work with the KZN Social Workers’ forum on future projects.
Mr Mbongeni Sithole, a lecturer in social work, highlighted how Mama Winnie’s Memorial Service was not a ‘goodbye event’, but created and strengthened a space for partnerships between students, lecturers, and external social work organisations.
To further commemorate the lasting bond the Department has with Mama Winnie and to honour her legacy, plans are underway to rename the social work boardroom after her.
Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer