The award is in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle of South Africa and Africa at large.
According to information from the Public relations office at Makerere university, the decision to award Mrs. Mandela an Honorary Doctorate successfully went through all the vetting procedures following her successful nomination.
Profile of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born on 26 September 1936. She is a South African activist and politician who has held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women’s League. She is a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
She was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, including 27 years during which he was imprisoned. Although they were still married at the time of his becoming president of South Africa in May 1994, the couple had separated two years earlier.
Their divorce was finalised on 19 March 1996, though Winnie Mandela continued to be a presence in Mandela’s life in later years despite his remarriage in 1998.
Of all the major figures who came to global prominence during the South African liberation struggle, Madikizela-Mandela was seen as the most at home in the world of celebrity culture, and for many of the years just before Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years in prison, she was his public face, bringing word of his thoughts and his state of mind. She was offered academic honours abroad.
She met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957. She was 22 and standing at a bus stop in Soweto when Mandela first saw her and charmed her, securing a lunch date the following week.
They married in 1958 and had two daughters, Ezinhle ROOI (born 1959) and Zindzi (born 1960). Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1963 and released in 1990. The couple separated in 1992 and finalised the divorce in 1996 with an unspecified out-of-court settlement.
Her attempt to obtain a settlement up to US$5 million, half of what she claimed her ex-husband was worth, was dismissed when she failed to appear in court for a settlement hearing.
When asked about the possibility of reconciliation in a 1994 interview, Winnie said: “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.
Due to her political activities, Winnie was regularly detained by the South African government. She was tortured, subjected to house arrest, kept under surveillance, held in solitary confinement for over a year and banished to a remote town.
She emerged as a leading opponent of apartheid during the later years of her husband’s imprisonment (August 1963 – February 1990). For many of those years, she was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area, except for the times she was allowed to visit her husband at the prison on Robben Island.
Beginning in 1969, she spent eighteen months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison.
It was at this time that Winnie Mandela became well known in the West. She organised local clinics, campaigned actively for equal rights and was promoted by the ANC as a symbol of its struggle against apartheid.