Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo
2 minute read
23 Jul 2020
5:00 am

The feminist in me cannot celebrate Mandela Day

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

'He may have been a struggle icon, but his failure to rise to the occasion for the black woman who stood behind him is what makes him unrecognisable...'

A file picture dated 13 February 1990 of Former South African President Nelson Mandela, right, giving the clenched fist salute as he stands with his wife Winnie Mandela during his 'Welcome Home Rally' in Soweto, South Africa. Picture: EPA / STR

I have always struggled with celebrating Mandela Day. For me it’s a window-dressing gimmick: giving is not a show-and-tell affair lasting all but a day – but more particularly because the emerging black feminist in me is struggling to identity with the man. He may have been a struggle icon, but his failure to rise to the occasion for the black woman who stood behind him is what makes him unrecognisable – so unrecognisable that it chips away at all his good works. Works he could not have produced without a wife, no matter how flawed she may have been....