Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who died on Monday, was a divisive character in life and is proving so in death too. But beyond the acrid debates about how she is "seen" or "understood" stands a powerful, iconic, somewhat misunderstood, somewhat flawed figure who had an enormous influence on South African politics. For that alone, we all owe her a debt of recognition and honour, even if those sentiments incorporate the requirement of forgiveness too. To Madikizela-Mandela’s many supporters, she could do no wrong, even when doing wrong because of a depressingly frequent response to many of the dilemmas into which she was willingly and unwillingly thrust. To her many enemies, she could do no right, even though her resilience and passion were just two of her very obvious strengths. It is a rare person who contains contradictions so grand that her weaknesses were also, in a way, her strengths and her strengths sometimes mutated into weaknesses. In a life filled with ironies, Madikizela-Mande...

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