When you are posed with a question like “who are the leaders of yesterday and today?” how many women automatically pop into your head? Not many I assume? Many should wonder why, but the quick answer is that women are not treated equally in the workplace, and surely not when it comes to leadership- if even taken seriously.
When I began this article I really struggled, because I felt bad that I struggled [vicious right?]. I know many talented women entertainers, but as far as leadership I could only think of one woman, whom many feared more than her male counterpart (and husband)- Winnie Mandela.
Strength is nothing uncommon for an African woman, better yet for women of color-period. But if you want to talk about leadership and taking it by the horns, Winnie is definitely the main one that comes to my mind- why else would many try to hard to tarnish her name? (this is rhetorical, i do not need an answer lol).
Now many may not know that Winnie was a force to be reckoned with. No one can openly talk about her due to that fear. That same fear is what I connect to my own strength as an African woman, a woman of color in a society oozing of patriarchy. Winnie was “That One”, you could not mess with. Even when many tried to tarnish her name, she is still “That One” that evokes strength. In a society that insist so much of our silence, it is refreshing to continue to learn and read the stories of her anti-apartheid activism along with the bad. So if you are looking to see the frilly stories filled with the “right” way to do things, or the peaceful way to make a change, do not look this way. Winnie may not have faced the same amount of years in jail as her then husband, but she went the the same solitary confinement and torture as he did. So why are there less stories about her, than her husband? Why it only one Mandela that is seen as the parent of Anti Apartheid?
I guess it is just what comes along with the territory with being a strong woman in politics, you may or may not be liked, you will surely be feared. I am going to end with this quote, and you can make your own assessment with the type of strong woman Winnie was (Rest in Power) “I am not fighting to be the country’s First Lady. In fact, I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone.”
– Ejele Onwuachi