Winnie Mandela, Part of My Soul Went With Him

Winnie Mandela, Part of My Soul Went With Him

For nearly three decades, Winnie Mandela tolerated a coerced severance from her spouse, the incarcerated Nelson Mandela. Together with her husband, Winnie endured 27 years of living as a proscribed person within her own nation. At that point, she lived under house arrest and was restricted to address community gatherings or even engage in an encounter with a single person at any time. In Part of My Soul Went with Him, Winnie Mandela peers back into her sporadic appointments with Nelson, tells the global society regarding the inhumane treatment her husband suffered since 1962 and talks of the positive impact that the visits from his children as well as grandchildren imposed on him.  Undeniably, the book acts as a memoir and illustrates Mandela’s experiences on a first-hand basis. Her autobiography, which includes, letters and interviews, narrates her life’s story and political development.

The memoir starts with a tribute dedicated to her by Bishop Manas Buthelezi. The chapter highlights the Xhosa predisposition that Winnie Mandela since the time of her birth. Buthelezi calls her by her surname, Nomzamo, which in the mentioned lingo, stands for trial (Mandela, Benjamin & Benson, 1984). Indeed, the tribute praises Mandela for the enduring times she faced under the oppressive antics of the then Apartheid regime. At that time, she was actively involved in championing for the release of her husband and simultaneously, the rights and privileges that were inherent for the South African people.  The tribute is then followed by the experiences she encountered as an outcome of her banishment. The chapter, ‘My Little Siberia’, provides intricate and emotive detail of the tribulations that Winnie experienced at the time she unwillingly lived in Brandfort (Mandela, Benjamin & Benson, 1984).

Winnie continues her autobiography after this by peering into her childhood in the proceeding chapter. In this chapter, she explains her background and her tutelage of life under the arms of her father while growing up in the countryside, which she calls Pondoland. Her narrative elucidates the considerable knowledge that she gained from being taught history at an early age. Much of the lessons that she gained concerned freedom, which would later become innate to her as she developed. Following her experiences as a child, Winnie also narrates of the strenuous yet passionate life she lived with her husband, Nelson Mandela. As she explains in the section, ‘Life with Him was Always a Life without Him’, living with Nelson Mandela possessed its difficult times based on the manner he focused considerably on fighting for the freedom of the people of South Africa and the backlash that he received from the Dutch colonialists at the time (Mandela, Benjamin & Benson, 1984).

Furthermore, Winnie also tells of the trying moments that she endured when Mandela underwent incarceration in 1962 under the directive of the apartheid government. In relation to this, the following chapter elucidates how Mandela acted as a pillar of strength for Winnie during the time of his imprisonment even though both faced a long period of separation (Mandela, Benjamin & Benson, 1984). The proceeding section continues to highlight the experience of imprisonment. Nonetheless, in this case, Winnie explains the humiliating experiences that her husband while in prison and establishes a stance against them asserting that it is impossible to face such situations without evoking a response. Based on this, she speaks of the Soweto Uprising in the next chapter. In addition, she veers from this notion in the following section and provides her views concerning the political situation after the events that occurred. Lastly, Winnie documents the time she visited Mandela in the prisons in Robben Island and Pollsmoor respectively (Mandela, Benjamin & Benson, 1984).

In conclusion, Mandela’s autobiography presents an informative summary of the events surrounding South Africa during its repressive time as a colonized state. At that time, much of the events that occurred were marred with obscurity and considerable propaganda. Nonetheless, Mandela’s memoir provides an in-depth look into the trials faced by both her and her husband, Nelson. Even though the book has basis on a personal point of view, Part of My Soul Went with Him provides a rather significant emotive and primal account of Mandela’s life and is indeed, an interesting read for any audience.








Mandela, W., Benjamin, A., & Benson, M. (1984). Part of my soul went with him. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.


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