Fire and Forgiveness: How Apartheid Left Its Mark on Winnie and Nelson Mandela


Brandfort, South Africa – In 1977, the apartheid authorities banished Nelson Mandela’s wife Winnie to Brandfort, a small, remote town in South Africa’s Afrikaner heartland. Worried by how she was keeping the African National Congress (ANC) alive while her husband was in jail, the white supremacist regime restricted her movements to a tiny three-roomed hut with no electricity, no running water and no indoor toilet in the black township on Brandfort’s outskirts.

Winnie’s hut – actually half a hut – was #802. In #806 was Nora Nomafu. Now 71, I found Nora outside Winnie’s old house on a recent visit, where she and three other old comrades were conducting a ceremony in remembrance of Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.

“We were not even allowed to speak to her,” said Nora. “The women who worked in town had told their children, ‘Don’t go near this certain communist woman. She…

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