Doctor Dre Talks “Yo! MTV Raps” 30th Anniversary Concert & Possible Reboot


NEW YORK CITY, NY – Yo! MTV Raps aired from 1988 to 1995 and has since become synonymous with Golden Era Hip Hop. On June 1, Brooklyn’s Barclay Center will host the Yo! MTV Raps: 30th Anniversary Experience featuring an all-star lineup.

Big Daddy Kane, the Juice Crew, Eric B. and Rakim, Doug E. Fresh, KRS-One, Boogie Down Productions, EPMD, Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, Melle Mel, the Furious Five, Pharcyde, Brand Nubian, Nice and Smooth, Onyx, Black Sheep, Das EFX, Special Ed, Yo-Yo and Kid Capri are all expected to make an appearance.

Just like back in the day, weekend host Fab 5 Freddy and the weekday crew – Ed Lover, Doctor Dre and T-Money – will be spearheading the event alongside DJ Skribble, Kool DJ Red Alert and Chuck Chillout.

“We came together with an idea that would be a great homage to the I Love ’90s Tour,” Doctor Dre explains. “We figured there should be a Yo! MTV Raps Tour. We reached out to our manager, Charlie Stettle, and he went to work.”

When it comes to a reboot of the O.G. television show, MTV says it “will reinvent the franchise for a new generation as a both a linear and digital series across its platform.” But Dre is unsure of how it will play out.

“That’s what they say,” he says. “I don’t know how that’s going to work in today’s world. The unique thing about Yo! MTV Raps was videos were very important back then. In today’s streaming world, not sure how that would work. I’m not sure what they plan on doing. All I know is on June 1, we’ll be at the Barclays Center to celebrate the show and its success — internationally, nationally and globally.”

The 2BlindMics podcast host adds, “It might be coming to a city near you. Many more announcements to come.”

MTV will livestream the arena concert on its website.

Tickets to Yo! MTV Raps: 30th Anniversary Experience go on sale April 21.

Professor celebrating Barbara Bush’s death deserves to be fired ?




Following the death Tuesday of former first lady Barbara Bush, it didn’t take long before a radical and heartless university professor started spewing unbelievably vile, hate-filled rhetoric – actually celebrating Mrs. Bush’s death from behind the safety of a social media account.

Randa Jarrar, an English professor at California State University’s Fresno campus, launched into an obscenity-filled Twitter tirade that began: “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. F— outta here with your nice words.”

Here is more of Jarrar’s euphoric excitement and nasty name-calling that she splashed across Twitter like a garbage truck spilling it contents: “PSA: either you are against these pieces of s— and their genocidal ways or you’re part of the problem. That’s actually how simple this is. I’m happy the witch is dead. Can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million Iraqis have. byyyeeeeeeee.”

Classy – and such a talented writer! Does this English professor assign her students to write filth like this this, and give them bonus points for swearing? How on Earth did she get to be an English professor, anyway?

Randa Jarrar Fresno 1

Fresno State is investigating comments made by professor Randa Jarrar, who said former first lady Barbara Bush was an “amazing racist,” among other things, just an hour after her death was announced.  (California State University, Fresno)

And what kind of sick, twisted individual gleefully celebrates the death of a human being? Unless the death you’re celebrating is that of someone like Adolf Hitler or Usama Bin Laden.

Jarrar continued her tweet storm, expressing her joy that former President George W. Bush was probably very sad his mother was dead.

She became even more brazen and full of herself in her tweets, flaunting her salary and saying there was no way she could ever be fired because she has tenure. She even tagged the university’s president, and practically dared her critics to do the same if they didn’t like what she was saying.

The Fresno Bee reported: “The backlash on Twitter was immense on Tuesday night, with thousands of comments pouring in to condemn Jarrar for what she had said. Jarrar eventually made her social media accounts private.”

It initially looked as though the university was going to stand behind Jarrar and her hate speech. Fresno State President Joseph Castro released a statement Tuesday saying that while the school didn’t condone her comments, her views weren’t made as a representative of the university, but rather as a private citizen.

Really, President Castro? That argument doesn’t work when she’s citing her tenure and six-figure university salary.

At first the university was trying to have it both ways, distancing itself from Jarrar’s comments, while attempting to avoid holding her accountable for her speech.

However, amid a growing backlash, Lynnette Zelezny, the university’s provost, said Wednesday that tenure does not in fact protect Jarrar from being fired.

And after his initial comments, Castro said: “A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions.”

Far too often lately we’ve watched as conservatives have been invited to speak at universities by legitimate campus organizations only to be subjected to protests, heckling and even violence More often than not, the school administration appears to turn a blind eye to it all.

Is rejoicing at the death of Mrs. Bush the step too far? Have we finally seen a far-left extremist, who’s come completely unhinged, cross a line in the sand – or is this just wishful thinking?

The university provost said Jarrar can be fired. So why not fire her and make her the example all academia so desperately needs?

Jarrar talks about having the right to free speech in one of her tweets. This is the glaring ignorance we often hear from supposedly intelligent people who throw around the First Amendment to justify their hateful rants.

What they don’t seem to get is that the First Amendment protects them from the government suppressing their speech.  What it does not protect them from is an employer’s freedom to decide they are bad for their brand.

If an employee chooses to publicly use vulgar, hateful language, or wish someone dead, an employer can decide that’s not somebody they want associated with their institution, organization or company.

Individuals still have the freedom to say all of those abhorrent things, but their speech has consequences.

In addition to being a professor, Jarrar is, according to her bio, is an “award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator.” By society’s measuring stick, she’s successful.

Ironically, however, it was Mrs. Bush herself who said: “Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends, and co-workers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”

By that account, Jarrar still has a long way to go to succeed. Mrs. Bush was the picture of class and dignity, and a glowing example of how to treat other people. She was admired and respected across the political spectrum – as the flood of tributes since her death has shown.

Jarrar is the polar opposite. She may be educated in the classroom, but in life the professor has lot to learn, and who better for her to learn it from than the late first lady?

Barbara Bush, 41st First Lady of .U.S. Corporation Dead @ 92

By The Associated Press

Barbara Pierce Bush (born June 8, 1925) is the wife of the 41st President of the United States George H. W. Bush, and served as First Lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993. She is the mother of the 43rd President George W. Bush and 43rd Governor of Florida Jeb Bush. Previously she had served as Second Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989.

Barbara Pierce was born in Flushing, New York and attended boarding school in South Carolina. She met George Herbert Walker Bush at age 16, and the two married in 1945, while he was on leave during his deployment as a Naval officer in World War II. They would have six children together. The Bush family soon moved to Midland, Texas; as George Bush entered political life, Barbara raised their children.

As wife of the Vice President and then President, Barbara Bush has supported and worked to advance the cause of universal literacy. She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy while First Lady. Since leaving the White House, she has continued to advance this cause.

Early life

Barbara Pierce was born at Booth Memorial Hospital in Flushing, Queens in New York City, and raised in the suburban town of Rye, New York.  She was the third child of the former Pauline Robinson (1896–1949) and her husband Marvin Pierce (1893–1969), who later became president of McCall Corporation, the publisher of the popular women’s magazines Redbook and McCall’s. Her siblings include Martha Pierce Rafferty (1920–1999); James Pierce (1921–1993) and Scott Pierce (born 1930).(Her ancestor Thomas Pierce, an early New England colonist, was also an ancestor of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States. She is a direct descendant, great-great-granddaughter, of James Pierce, Jr. who was a fourth cousin of President Franklin Pierce.)

Barbara attended Rye Country Day School from 1931 to 1937 and later boarding school at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina (from 1940 to 1943).  She was athletic as a youth and enjoyed swimming, tennis, and bike-riding. Her interest in reading began early in her life; she recalls gathering with her family during the evenings and reading together.

Chuck D On Seeing Public Enemy Posters In “Black Panther” & His Message to JAY-Z & Diddy




TOKYO, JAPAN – Long before Black Panther became a box office behemoth, Chuck D was a fan of the revolutionary comic book. So, when Marvel Studio wanted to use two Public Enemy posters in the movie, the legendary frontman was all about it.

At the beginning of the film, director and Oakland native Ryan Coolger takes viewers to the blacktop of his hometown circa 1992 — also the breeding ground of the Black Panther Party.

While in N’Jobu’s apartment (played by Sterling K. Brown), a Public Enemy Fear Of A Black Planet poster can be seen hanging on the wall.

Later in the movie, another Public Enemy poster pops up, only this time it’s for the Long Island group’s seminal album, 1988’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. 

“The photographer who shot Yo! Bum Rush The Show and It Takes A Nation Of Millions is Glen E. Friedman,” Chuck explains to “Glen shot Ice-T, Rob Base, Run-DMC and then Glen shot us. We shot the jail shot at a precinct in midtown Manhattan not too far from Madison Square Garden. We got in there and shot it.”

“Glen was the one who probably had to approve it and then we all had to,” he continues. “I was a big Black Panther fan — not only as Black Panthers but the comic book created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in ’68. It was a no brainer. Marvel doesn’t make any mistakes. It was a phenomenon to know the Black Panther movie was coming before everyone knew it was a phenomenon because I grew up with it.”

Once Chuck actually saw the film, it was another story.

“To see it in the movie twice, it was prideful, yes,” he admits. “It felt good. I knew it was going to happen but to see it happen was definitely prideful. A lot of people didn’t see the first one. That photo shoot was in Birmingham, U.K. our second year and that’s right before It Takes A Nation came out.”

Even with all of Public Enemy’s accolades, Chuck knows there’s still work that needs to be done. He notes seeing JAY-Z and Sean “Diddy” Combs having a battle on Twitter about who’s going to be #1 on Forbes’ 2018 List Of Hip Hop’s Wealthiest Artists. He believes that does nothing for Hip Hop as a whole.

“As a structured organized, I wish the money was distributed to more people better,” he says. “To see JAY-Z and Puffy have a playful argument about who’s going to be the top of Forbes, I look at my peer group and they’re just trying to get by. Look at a guy like Masta Ace who’s just trying to continue his art and feed his family, I just wish the distribution is a little less painful.

“It could be a lot more fair across the board. It’s the lack of administration. I was talking to [DJ] Premier, I said, ‘I do so much of this and it’s not based on money.’ Yeah, I go out with Prophets Of Rage and our job is do our thing but everything else I do is painfully for free. JAY-Z and Puffy arguing about who has most money — something’s wrong with that. How many jobs have you created? Who are you paying and what are you doing for it? It all came out from the sacrifices we made for you.”

Many unanswered questions in death of CDC researcher Cunningham




The whereabouts of a missing Atlanta researcher are no longer a mystery. The body of Timothy Cunningham, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was pulled this week from the Chattahoochee River.

But there are still many unanswered questions about Cunningham’s apparent drowning death. Was it accidental or intentional? And why?

Atlanta police said Thursday that there are no indicators of foul play in Cunningham’s disappearance and death. Though investigators don’t have all the answers, many that have followed the case have used social media to voice a variety of theories. Since news of the drowning became public, hundreds have commented on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Facebook page, stating they don’t believe investigators. Among the responses:

“Someone killed that man.”

“They better not say that this educated man took his own life either. We ain’t buying that lie.”

“This man Knew Too Much and was taken out as not to tell the world what’s really going on at the CDC!”

“Something ain’t right, clear as day he was set up”


The facts in the case don’t match those hunches, according to police.

“We’ve talked to a lot of people and looked at a lot of different factors, and through all of that, we have nothing that indicates foul play,” Major Michael O’Connor said Thursday.

There were no signs of any struggle inside Cunningham’s home, where everything was intact. And Cunningham’s body showed no signs of any trauma, like bruises or other wounds, according to the Medical Examiner. He was found wearing his favorite running shoes and had three small rocks, the type he liked to collect, in his pocket, police said. So how did Cunningham, who knew how to swim, end up dead in the river?

“We may never be able to tell you how he got into the river,” O’Connor said.

Did he know too much?

Cunningham’s research involved understanding health differences related to race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and geography, the CDC said. He previously deployed for numerous public health emergency responses, including Superstorm Sandy, Ebola, and Zika. But Cunningham did not have access to classified information at the CDC, according to police.

“We’re very aware of the conspiracy theories,” O’Connor said at a Feb. 27 news conference. By then, Cunningham’s disappearance had become a national story and speculation was spreading as to whether his job at the CDC may have played a role.

Investigators interviewed several of Cunningham’s colleagues and learned that he had recently been passed over for a promotion, according to police. He was upset he hadn’t gotten the job, and he’d let his family and friends know in the days before his disappearance, O’Connor said. Cunningham had taken two days off work because he was ill, but returned on Monday, Feb. 12. It was then, according to police, Cunningham met with a supervisor and was told why he hadn’t gotten the promotion.

Around 9 a.m., that morning, surveillance cameras captured Cunningham leaving work, but police said there are no cameras in the CDC parking deck. He called his mother at 9:12 a.m., but she missed the call and he didn’t answer when she called back.

At Cunningham’s home, his family found all of his personal items — wallet, credit cards, keys, cell phone — and his beloved dog, Mr. Bojangles, but no signs of him. A neighbor gave police an eerie tip, too. Before he disappeared, Cunningham asked the neighbor’s wife to remove his number from her phone, police said.

In an interview with The AJC, Tia-Juana Cunningham said it was unusual for her son to not be in touch with his family, and to have left his dog alone. The family released a statement Thursday thanking those involved in the investigation and search, but asking for privacy.

“We sincerely thank all of you for the support and kindness you have shown our family during this difficult time,” the statement read. “We are processing this incomprehensible loss and request time and space to grieve.”

Did the CDC change its story?

In a strange twist in the case, the CDC blasted media reports and police indirectly on March 12, stating that Cunningham was not passed over for a promotion.

A statement emailed to the media from the CDC’s acting director Anne Schuchat read in part: “There has been news coverage that Commander Cunningham recently did not receive a promotion. As many of his colleagues in the USPHS have pointed out, this information is incorrect. In fact, he received an early promotion/exceptional proficiency promotion to Commander effective July 1, 2017, in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS).”

Atlanta police officials stood by their information, which was gathered from the CDC. The CDC declined to elaborate on whether there was a second promotion Cunningham was seeking. In a statement late Thursday, the CDC called Cunningham a valuable team member.

“Tim’s impact will be felt not only through his significant contributions to CDC’s mission, but also through his influence on the lives of his colleagues and friends,” the CDC said. “We extend our condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Cunningham’s case is not yet closed, Atlanta police said Thursday. Detectives will review the case file, making sure nothing has been overlooked, O’Connor said. Toxicology testing on his body is also being completed.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact police. The family and CrimeStoppers Atlanta have offered a $15,000 reward in the case. The fishermen who spotted Cunningham’s body in the river are not eligible for that reward.


Chuck Freeze, a member of pioneering hip hop group Jazzy Five, dead @ 54




Bronx rapper Chuck Freeze, a member of the pioneering hip hop group Jazzy Five, has died at the age of 54.

The hip hop star, whose real name was Charles Foushee, was found “unconscious and unresponsive” Sunday in his Hollis, Queens home and was pronounced dead by emergency responders, the NYPD said.

The official cause of death is heart disease and high blood pressure, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office confirmed.

Freeze performed at an event at the Essentials 608 nightclub in the Bronx on Saturday evening, the night before his death. His longtime friend, DJ Kevie Kev Rockwell of the Fantastic Five, performed with Freeze that night and says he seemed fine when they parted ways after the event.

Chuck Freeze of the Jazzy Five has died at 54.


“I (would) see him every day. He’s one of my closest friends,” Kevie Kev, whose real name is Kevin Carson, told The News. “I grew up with him. I knew him since I was 15 years old. Before we were legends, before we were pioneers.”

Freeze and the other members of Jazzy Five — Master Ice, A.J. Les, Master Bee and Master Dee — rose to fame in the early 1980s on the strength of their hit, “Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version),” which they recorded with fellow Bronx artist Afrikaa Bambaataa.

The song, which came out in 1981, featured verses by each of the Jazzy Five members, with Freeze memorably rapping, “I’m Mr. Freeze, and to tell you the truth / that my quality ranks about a hundred proof.”

Suge Knight Has Been Transferred From Jail To An LA Hospital For Unknown Reasons



Former Death Row Records boss Marion “Suge” Knight was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital Tuesday (April 2) while awaiting his murder trial, according to TMZ.

TMZ reports that the onetime rap mogul was moved from LA County jail on Tuesday at about 11:00 AM and was admitted to a local hospital. While there is no further information on why we was moved or has been in the hospital for two days since, the report does mention a number of health problems that Knight has faced since his 2015 arrest for hitting two men with his car, which killed one. He passed out in court in 2015, and has been treated for blood clots repeatedly, most recently in 2017.

Knight reportedly conspired to bribe witnesses in his murder case last year, prompting the district attorney to ask the court to conduct a separate investigation into the integrity of Knight’s lawyer, Matthew Fletcher. The investigation led to an arrest, as well as indictments for two of Suge’s attorneyson charges of conspiracy.

Meanwhile, even Suge Knight’s most famous impersonator has been in trouble with the law recently. Richard Marcos Taylor, who portrayed Suge in the 2016 biopic Straight Outta Comptonwas also arrested after an altercation with a security guard at a Florida resort. He was eventually released on $1,500 bail and charged with battery.


Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr


William Pepper, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers, Pepper, attorney since 1988 for James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of Martin Luther King Jr., believes that his client was a patsy, not the real assassin. He charges that the civil rights leader slain in 1968 was the victim of a conspiracy that involved Hoover’s FBI, the CIA, Army intelligence, the mafia and the Memphis, Tenn., police force, extending to the highest levels of the federal government, which viewed King as a dangerous revolutionary. Pepper has interviewed many new witnesses who remained silent during the last 27 years, and he names names of officials at the local and national levels who, he alleges, participated in the conspiracy. According to Pepper, a team of U.S. Army Special Forces snipers was at the scene, taking aim at King at the same moment as a back-up “civilian” assassin. The Army team, by this account, had orders to kill both King and the Reverend Andrew Young, but the final order to pull the trigger was never given because the “civilian” assassin-tentatively identified here as one Raul Pereira, not Ray-shot King first. Pepper interviewed two former Special Forces members who claim to have been part of the sniper squad. He also cites two failed, government-orchestrated attempts to assassinate King in 1965, as well as a subsequent mafia contract on the civil rights leader’s life by New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello. Pepper wants a trial for Ray, who, he asserts, was coerced into pleading guilty by his lawyer; the defense, he notes, has never even been allowed to test the rifle or bullets in evidence.

Winnie Mandela was a hero. If she’d been white, there would be no debate


By Afua Hirsch


Heroes are curious things. Ours have roots in the ancient Graeco-Roman sense of the concept, which places a premium on military victory. What’s problematic is how many of our heroes embody an inherent level of violence, as is unsurprisingly the case with people whose main accomplishments arise from war. We are tolerant about people who regarded the working classes as an abomination (Wellington), the transatlantic slave trade as a good idea (Nelson) or Indians as repulsive (Churchill), because we think the ends – defeating Napoleon or Hitler – justified the means.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, as the press coverage of her death this week shows, is not entitled to the same rose-tinted eulogy as our white British men. She is “controversial” and a “bully”. One newspaper columnist was boldly willing to abandon his usual restraint in not writing ill of the dead specially for this “odious, toxic individual”.

The media reports have raised the horrific murder of 14-year-old Stompie Moeketsi, though few have been unduly troubled by the fact that this was a crime she always denied any involvement in, or by the ample evidence of the lengths to which the apartheid regime went to infiltrate and smear her and her followers.

Sadly, I suspect much of the newly discovered outrage sparked by Madikizela-Mandela’s death has little to do with any recent conversion to the cause of Black Lives Matter, or accompanying grief for the fate of little Stompie – one of so many black children who lost their lives during the brutality of apartheid and the struggle against it. What it’s really about is a reluctance to admit that apartheid was so wrong, and so entrenched; and that without the resilience and vision of Madikizela-Mandela, and those of her ilk, it would not have been brought down.

Britain’s heroes are allowed to have waged war. The warriors against white supremacist oppression, on the other hand, are not. When, for instance, I questioned Piers Morgan over the appropriateness of having a 50-metre column in Trafalgar Square to commemorate Admiral Nelson, he spat that Nelson Mandela has a statue despite being a “terrorist”. When I debated with a renowned naval historian over his adulation of the admiral, the argument wound its way to Haiti – the only example in history of slaves successfully overthrowing their masters and establishing their own republic – and whether this was a victory for the enslaved over their oppressors (my view) or a tragedy for the plantation owners who were killed in the process (his).

There is no end to the contortions in our psyche. Who now – outside South Africa, where I have heard its demise lamented more than once – would defend the apartheid regime? It’s easy to condemn in hindsight. Yet we have forgotten what it actually takes to overthrow such tyranny when the legal and moral force of a sovereign state was on the side of white supremacy. Columnists did not cut it. Activists could not have done it. Peaceful protest did not do it. Sports boycotts, books, badges and car boot sales did not do it. It took revolutionaries, pure and simple. People willing to break the law, to kill and be killed.

It took women such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She was, as the world’s media have had to be repeatedly reminded this week, not an “activist”: she was a leader in a liberation struggle. She survived – during more than 35 years of apartheid – surveillance, threats, harassment, arrest and imprisonment, 491 days in solitary confinement and eight years in exile. The methods of torture used against her included, according to one account, denying her sanitary products so that she was found, in detention, covered in her own menstrual blood.

I doubt the Daily Mail, recalling Madikizela-Mandela’s life this week as “blood-soaked”, appreciated the irony of this choice of phrase, nor that of judging her – rather than the apartheid regime she helped overthrow – the “bully”.

Our ambivalence about apartheid is the elephant in the room. As a nation, one of our techniques for glossing over this uncomfortable fact has been overly beatifying Nelson Mandela, whose posthumous glory has always struck me as coming at the cost of forgetting the others. Who now remembers the names of Robert Sobukwe – the profound pan-Africanist whose medical treatment for fatal lung cancer was obstructed by the apartheid government, or Elias Motsoaledi, convicted at Rivonia alongside Mandela and not released from Robben Island until 26 years later.

We consider Nelson Mandela to be safe because of his message of forgiveness, because of truth and reconciliation, because he accepted the Nobel peace prize with apartheid-regime president FW de Klerk – decisions to which Madikizela-Mandela was fundamentally opposed. She was a radical until the end. Each rejection of that radicalism is an endorsement of the tyranny she fought against.

But is it surprising that we endorse it? An endless litany of heroes were either architects of, or happy to take part in, the very apartheid Madikizela-Mandela sacrificed so much to help end. Among them are those at the centre of our current statue wars – Cecil Rhodes, Lord Kitchener, Jan Smuts – all immortalised on prominent plinths. It’s hard to resist the conclusion – comparing the fact that it’s these people whom we immortalise, and those such as Madikizela-Mandela whom we demonise – that we are still undecided about which side of history we, as a nation, are on.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Denmark this week unveiled its first statue of a black woman. It does not commemorate someone who fed neatly into diversifying the existing order – the limited kind of black hero we in Britain seem willing to accept – but the “three queens” of the Caribbean island of St Croix, who led an unprecedented revolt against Danish colonial rule. Doing so requires Denmark to take a new look at its true history, seeing through its 20th-century rebranding as a liberal bastion that saved Jews from the Nazis, and whose empire was “not as bad as others”.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. We see ourselves as a moral, decent and rights-respecting nation. But when we are tested for our true moral grit, we keep failing. The death of Madikizela-Mandela is another opportunity to choose between a narrative of white supremacy and the one that overthrew it. If the media coverage of her death is anything to go by, this is, apparently, a deeply controversial choice.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Is Dead @ 81; Fought Apartheid



Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, whose hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa’s liberators was eroded by scandal over corruption, kidnapping, murder and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela, died early Monday in Johannesburg. She was 81.

Her death, at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, was announced by her spokesman, Victor Dlamini. He said in a statement that she died “after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.”

The South African Broadcasting Corporation said she was admitted to the hospital over the weekend complaining of the flu after she attended a church service on Friday. She had been treated for diabetes and underwent major surgeries as her health began failing over the last several years.

Charming, intelligent, complex, fiery and eloquent, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela (Madikizela was her surname at birth) was inevitably known to most of the world through her marriage to the revered Mr. Mandela. It was a bond that endured ambiguously: She derived a vaunted status from their shared struggle, yet she chafed at being defined by him.

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was cheered by supporters after appearing in court in Krugersdorp, South Africa, in 1986. She commanded a natural constituency of her own among South Africa’s poor and dispossessed.CreditAssociated Press

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela commanded a natural constituency of her own among South Africa’s poor and dispossessed, and the post-apartheid leaders who followed Mr. Mandela could never ignore her appeal to a broad segment of society. In April 2016, the government of President Jacob G. Zuma gave Ms. Madikizela-Mandela one of the country’s highest honors: the Order of Luthuli, given, in part, for contributions to the struggle for democracy.

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela retained a political presence as a member of Parliament, representing the dominant African National Congress, and she insisted on a kind of primacy in Mr. Mandela’s life, no matter their estrangement.

The Times’s Coverage of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was a polarizing figure in South Africa. Once considered a heroine, she was convicted in 1991 in the kidnapping of four youths, one of whom was found dead. Allegations of bribetaking and fraud further tarnished her image as the “mother of the nation.”

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s First Mention in The Times

She was ordered to appear in court on charges under the Suppression of Communism Act. It was one of many times she was held by the South African government.

Increasingly, though, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela resented the notion that her anti-apartheid credentials had been eclipsed by her husband’s global stature and celebrity, and she struggled in vain in later years to be regarded again as the “mother of the nation,” a sobriquet acquired during the long years of Mr. Mandela’s imprisonment. She insisted that her contribution had been wrongly depicted as a pale shadow of his.

“I am not Mandela’s product,” she told an interviewer. “I am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy” — references to South Africa’s white rulers under apartheid and to her burning hatred of them, rooted in her own years of mistreatment, incarceration and banishment.

Conduit to Her Husband

While Mr. Mandela was held at the Robben Island penal settlement, off Cape Town, where he spent most of his 27 years in jail, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela acted as the main conduit to his followers, who hungered for every clue to his thinking and well-being. The flow of information was meager, however: Her visits there were rare, and she was never allowed physical contact with him.

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela attended her husband’s trial in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1962.CreditAssociated Press

In time, her reputation became scarred by accusations of extreme brutality toward suspected turncoats, misbehavior and indiscretion in her private life, and a radicalism that seemed at odds with Mr. Mandela’s quest for racial inclusiveness.

She nevertheless sought to remain in his orbit. She was at his side, brandishing a victor’s clenched fist salute, when he was finally released from prison in February 1990.

At his funeral, in December 2013, she appeared by his coffin in mourning black — positioning herself almost as if she were the grieving first lady — even though Mr. Mandela had married Graça Machel, the widow of the former Mozambican president Samora Machel, in 1998, on his 80th birthday, six years after separating from Ms. Madikizela-Mandela and two years after their divorce. It was Mr. Mandela’s third marriage.

In 2016, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela began legal efforts to secure the ownership of Mr. Mandela’s home in his ancestral village of Qunu. She contended that their marriage had never been lawfully dissolved and that she was therefore entitled to the house, which Mr. Mandela had bequeathed to his descendants. High Court judges rejected that argument in April. After learning that she had lost the case, she was hospitalized.

Her lawyers said she would appeal the High Court judgment.

‘She Who Must Endure’

Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela was born to a noble family of the Xhosa-speaking Pondo tribe in Transkei. Her first name, Nomzamo, means “she who must endure trials.”

Her birth date was Sept. 26, 1936, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and many other sources, although earlier accounts gave the year as 1934.

Her father, Columbus, was a senior official in the so-called homeland of Transkei, according to South African History Online, an unofficial archive, which described her as the fourth of eight children. (Other accounts say her family was larger.) Her mother, Gertrude, was a teacher who died when Winnie was 8, the archive said.

As a barefoot child she tended cattle and learned to make do with very little, in marked contrast to her later years of free-spending ostentation. She attended a Methodist mission school and then the Hofmeyr School of Social Work in Johannesburg, where she befriended Adelaide Tsukudu, the future wife of Oliver Tambo, a law partner of Mr. Mandela’s who went on to lead the A.N.C. in exile. She turned down a scholarship in the United States, preferring to remain in South Africa as the first black social worker at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.

One day in 1957, when she was waiting at a bus stop, Nelson Mandela drove past. “I was struck by her beauty,” he wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.” Some weeks later, he recalled, “I was at the office when I popped in to see Oliver and there was this same young woman.”

Mr. Mandela, approaching 40 and the father of three, declared on their first date that he would marry her. Soon he separated from his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, a nurse, to marry Ms. Madikizela-Mandela on June 14, 1958.

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was thrust into the limelight in 1964 when her husband was sentenced to life in prison on charges of treason. She was officially “banned” under draconian restrictions intended to make her a nonperson, unable to work, socialize, move freely or be quoted in the South African news media, even as she raised their two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa.

In a crackdown in May 1969, five years after her husband was sent to prison, she was arrested and held for 17 months, 13 in solitary confinement. She was beaten and tortured. The experience, she wrote, was “what changed me, what brutalized me so much that I knew what it is to hate.”

After blacks rioted in the segregated Johannesburg township of Soweto in 1976, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was again imprisoned without trial, this time for five months. She was then banished to a bleak township outside the profoundly conservative white town of Brandfort, in the Orange Free State.

“I am a living symbol of whatever is happening in the country,” she wrote in “Part of My Soul Went With Him,” a memoir published in 1984 and printed around the world. “I am a living symbol of the white man’s fear. I never realized how deeply embedded this fear is until I came to Brandfort.”

Contrary to the authorities’ intentions, her cramped home became a place of pilgrimage for diplomats and prominent sympathizers, as well as foreign journalists seeking interviews.

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela cherished conversation with outsiders and word of the world beyond her confines. She scorned many of her restrictions, using whites-only public phones and ignoring the segregated counters at the local liquor store when she ordered Champagne — gestures that stunned the area’s whites.

Banishment Took Toll

Still, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s exclusion from what passed as a normal life in South Africa took a toll, and she began to drink heavily. During her banishment, moreover, her land changed. Beginning in late 1984, young protesters challenged the authorities with increasing audacity. The unrest spread, prompting the white rulers to acknowledge what they called a “revolutionary climate” and declare a state of emergency.

When Ms. Madikizela-Mandela returned to her home in Soweto in 1985, breaking her banning orders, it was as a far more bellicose figure, determined to assume leadership of what became the decisive and most violent phase of the struggle. As she saw it, her role was to stiffen the confrontation with the authorities.

The tactics were harsh.

“Together, hand in hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we will liberate this country,” she told a rally in April 1986. She was referring to “necklacing,” a form of sometimes arbitrary execution by fire using a gas-soaked tire around a supposed traitor’s neck, and it shocked an older generation of anti-apartheid campaigners. But her severity aligned her with the young township radicals who enforced commitment to the struggle.

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was surrounded by supporters in the black township of Kagiso in 1986. CreditAssociated Press

In the late 1980s, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela allowed the outbuildings around her residence in Soweto to be used by the so-called Mandela United Football Club, a vigilante gang that claimed to be her bodyguard. It terrorized Soweto, inviting infamy and prosecution.

In 1991 she was convicted of ordering the 1988 kidnapping of four youths in Soweto. The body of one, a 14-year-old named James Moeketsi Seipei — nicknamed Stompie, a slang word for a cigarette butt, reflecting his diminutive stature — was found with his throat cut.

Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s chief bodyguard was convicted of murder. She was sentenced to six years for kidnapping, but South Africa’s highest appeals court reduced her punishment to fines and a suspended one-year term.

By then her life had begun to unravel. The United Democratic Front, an umbrella group of organizations fighting apartheid and linked to the A.N.C., expelled her. In April 1992, Mr. Mandela, midway through settlement talks with President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa, announced that he and his wife were separating. (She dismissed suggestions that she had wanted to be known by the title “first lady.” “I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone,” she said.)

Two years later, Mr. Mandela was elected president and offered her a minor job as the deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology. But after allegations of influence peddling, bribetaking and misuse of government funds, she was forced from office. In 1996, Mr. Mandela ended their 38-year marriage, testifying in court that his wife was having an affair with a colleague.

Only in 1997, at the behest of Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu at South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, did Ms. Madikizela-Mandela offer an apology for the events of the late 1980s. “Things went horribly wrong,” she said, adding, “For that I am deeply sorry.”

Yet the catalog of missteps continued, cast into sharp relief by her haughty dismissiveness toward her accusers. In 2003 she was convicted of using her position as president of the A.N.C. Women’s League to obtain fraudulent loans; she was sentenced to five years in prison. But her sentence was again suspended on appeal, with a judge finding that she had not gained personally from the transactions.

To the end, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela remained a polarizing figure in South Africa, admired by loyalists who were prepared to focus on her contribution to ending apartheid, vilified by critics who foremost saw her flaws. Few could ignore her unsettling contradictions, however.

“While there is something of a historical revisionism happening in some quarters of our nation these days that brands Nelson Mandela’s second wife a revolutionary and heroic figure,” the columnist Verashni Pillay wrote in the South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian, “it doesn’t take that much digging to remember the truly awful things she has been responsible for.”