What must South Africa do, now that Mama is gone?

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Born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela; 26 September 1936 – 2 April 2018, Mama as also known as Winnie Mandela. Her life’s story is riddled with struggle, pain, darkness and indeed the black struggle. Julius Malema at her funeral spoke the now viral catchphrase “Mama, give is a signal.”

I have hardly known this division. The pain of being black until I crossed into South Africa. Now Julius Malema in his voice, laden with ice-cold pain, wrapped in cynicism and delivered in uncultured disregard, serves the pain of Winnie Mandela’ s death to the world.

Winni Mandela who for 18 months was locked up by the apartheid regime without even water to clean herself. All Mama wanted was for her children to walk freely on their own land.

“Mama you did not tell us how to treat those who betrayed you, give us a signal,” Malema said. He looked at the crowd, his eyes ever squinted in indignation, his voice booming.

He even had a good clean shave of his head this time and was not donning the red EFF beret. Malema for a moment carried the story of a whole nation still recuperating from the strongholds of apartheid. A nation of black souls who have grown to know what it means to be unwanted, closed-in, treated like they are less than human because of the colour of their skin.

I never grew up to know colonization, only in theory did I recite its name. Moving from my home Nigeria to study in South Africa has changed everything. Living in South Africa has removed from me my safe cocoon, now I know why Jesus could not be white.

In the coffee shop, the prices are too high. In the mall, the prices are too high. Black Friday takes on a new meaning, it’s the only day blacks are able to afford Woolworths and Dove creams.

Black Friday is the day Julius Malema remembers that no matter how much Mama had suffered, economic power is yet to be wrestled from the hands of demons so white that hell seems like the streets of Gold.

Land for the blacks signals labour, death, and suffering. Land that was meant to be pride and identity. A place from which nourishment and culture should have emanated. Now the farmers are there and Julius does not know how Mama wants them to be treated. Mama, give us a signal.

This speech like so many great speeches but unlike so many. This phrase captures the struggle for black emancipation “Mama, give us a signal.”

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