ADDIS ABABA– A delegation from the African Union (AU) Commission headquarters here has visited the South African Embassy in Addis Ababa to express its condolence to the family of South African struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and to the country as a whole.

Humble, selfless, great — these are just some of the many words used to describe Madikizela-Mandela by the AU officials when they paid their respects in Addis-Ababa Thursday. The team was led by female African ambassadors.

All of Africa rejoices. And even here today people were singing, they were singing and they were happy and remembering everything she has done. We loved her and we will always remember her, said Naimi Hamza Aziz, Tanzania’s Ambassador to Ethiopia.

All generations to come will know that they have survived and they can look forward to a good future when they read her history and whatever she did, it is inspiring, said Zambia’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Susan Sikaneta.

All who spoke referred to Winnie as mama, an expression of respect.

She paved the way and we need to recognize that, so her effort will not be in vain. All of us admired her for her beauty, her grace, an African woman but with brains and also kindness, said AU Special Representative for Women in Peace, Pops Bineta Diop.

The Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, Kwesi Quartey, recalled: She visited Ghana and she said something which was significant. She said she had come to Accra to tell (former Ghanaian president) Kwame Nkuruma’s people that a last State to be free in Africa was finally free.

“Since then she has received several awards and her children and grandchildren have glorified her name. And we, in the African Union, feel very privileged to be associated with her.”

In 2017, the African Union awarded Madikizela-Mandela a Lifetime Achievement Award for her role in fighting apartheid and empowering women.

Mama Winnie was bigger than South Africa. That is one thing that people will always have to remember that she was bigger than South Africa. Mama Winnie represented the struggle against all injustice, whether it is gender-based injustice, whether racial-based injustice, whether it was class-based injustice, said South African Ambassador to Ethiopia Ndumiso Ntshinga.

As part of the younger generation, we are deeply inspired by the works she did by her resilience, her commitment and love for Africa, said the AU’s Director for Women Affairs, Mahawa Kaba-Wheeler.