Thank you for inviting me to share in this special evening. What an honour to be with so many sisters and daughters of Winnie.
Tonight, we celebrate the remarkable journey of a truly remarkable woman.
It is right to do so here in Harlem – because Winnie Mandela came here again and again.
Whenever she travelled here, it was more than just a visit. It was a homecoming.
She knew that the people of Harlem so deeply understood the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
She drew strength from your strength — your hope, your energy, your experiences, your actions.
So in remembering Winnie – we recognize the critical role you played in her life and one of the great struggles of humanity.
Winnie’s connection with Harlem showed that community mobilization was not just about what happened in Soweto — it was about every community, everywhere.
And it was not just a struggle to wage in the corridors of power – but through people power at the grassroots.
Tonight, I am with the millions of people who never had the good fortune to meet Winnie Mandela.
She loomed larger than life for all of us.
Winnie was the mother of the struggle.
Winnie was the sister who kept the movement going while so many men were imprisoned or exiled.
Winnie was the daughter of Africa who embodied the proverb “When you strike a woman, you strike a rock”.
The women of South Africa kept the struggle firmly on the international agenda. And Winnie Mandela was the glue.
Sadly, that came at great cost.
Perhaps no one made such a personal sacrifice over such a prolonged period – all the while bringing up her family.
She was personally targeted.
She was internally exiled – isolated, tortured, sent off to remote, desolate spaces.
She endured hardships we will never know.
But Winnie Mandela refused to break.
On the contrary, she became even more determined — showing great strength even in moments of weakness.
To my mind, Winnie Mandela personified courage and perseverance.
There is a term we use in our work on peace and security – that term is “force multiplier”.
It is a special something that allows you to do many times more than what you could have ever done on your own.
Sisters and brothers,
Winnie Mandela was and will forever remain a force multiplier.
She created and expanded spaces for all of us to make our voices heard. For economic rights. For political freedom. For social justice.
She would be the first to say she did not do it alone.
She did it with you – and continues to do it with us, smiling down from on high.
I think it is especially meaningful that she left us in this special year as we mark the centennial of the birth of Nelson Mandela.
In death, there is unity.
And in remembering, there is common purpose.
Let us take strength in all the good she stood for standing side by side with you.
And let us multiply those efforts. For justice. For dignity. For all and all-time.
Thank you Harlem.
Thank you Winnie Mandela.
Bookmark the Spokesperson’s website: http://www.un.org/sg/en/spokesperson