Johannesburg, South Africa – Winnie Mandela, South Africa’s former First Lady, passed away on Monday (April 2) as reported by the BBC. She was 81.
Family spokesman Victor Dlamini said she “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.” She reportedly died following a long illness.
The former wife of Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s first black president — was synonymous with the anti-apartheid movement for over three decades. Due to her staunch political beliefs, she was often kept under surveillance, tortured, thrown in solitary confinement for over a year and temporarily banished to a remote town. But she always remained steadfast in her convictions.
The couple wed in 1958 and had two daughters before Nelson was arrested in 1963. On February 11, 1990, she was photographed alongside her then-husband as he walked out of prison after serving 27 years. Upon his release, they were officially married for another six years before their divorce was finalized in 1996.
In 2016, South African President Jacob G. Zuma gave Mrs. Mandela one of the country’s highest honors — the Order of Luthuli — for her contributions made in the fight for democracy.
Several members of the Hip Hop community took to social media to celebrate Mrs. Mandela’s achievements. Chuck D, Pharoahe Monch and Rapsody were among the many who expressed their condolences.
Winnie Mandela. Rest In Peace 9/26/36 – 4/2/2018. One can only hope in this lifetime to have an ounce of your strength and courage. ?? pic.twitter.com/ZLgx2S98aB
— PHAROAHE MONCH (@pharoahemonch) April 2, 2018
RIP Winnie Mandela
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) April 2, 2018
???Winnie Mandela ?? ?? ?? “with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this… https://t.co/HFNK0o0b1L
— Rapsody (@rapsody) April 2, 2018
Rest in Power Winnie Mandela. Thank you for your years of sacrifice to see our people free pic.twitter.com/9fOCh12lPo
— Jasiri X (@jasiri_x) April 2, 2018
She lived for everyone, fought for lives and empowered along the way. ✊? RIP to a revolutionary, Winnie Mandela! ?? pic.twitter.com/aM0GfrdAO3
— Estelle (@EstelleDarlings) April 2, 2018
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) April 2, 2018
A woman who epitomized how the power of a woman's love, intelligence and vision can change a culture. RIP Winnie Mandela ❤ pic.twitter.com/axAeS7re3u
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) April 2, 2018
With heavy hearts we announce the passing of activist and government official, #WinnieMandela. Her work was monumental in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and that will never be forgotten.
Sending love and light to the Mandela family. pic.twitter.com/qLyD3wgDk1
— TIDAL (@TIDAL) April 2, 2018
— Forest Whitaker (@ForestWhitaker) April 2, 2018