12 letters from the desk of a freedom fighter Look back on Nelson Mandela's life and career through a collection of his own writings.
All images are from the book Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela, published by MacMillan Australia, and reproduced with permission. 1964Rivonia trial, statement from the dockThese are the five points Nelson Mandela jotted down in preparation for his statement from the dock on April 20, 1964 during the Rivonia trial, in which 10 African National Congress leaders were tried for 221 acts of sabotage aimed at overthrowing apartheid. Mr Mandela and his fellow accused were facing the death penalty. I was taken completely by surprise to learn that you had been very unwell as I did not have even the slightest hint that you suffered from blackouts. I have known of your heart condition pleurisy attacks. I am however happy to hear that the specialists have diagnosed the particular condition you suffer from that the blackouts have now disappeared. I should like to be given details of the doctors' diagnosis. I am pleased to know that our family doctor has been wonderful as usual I wish you speedy complete recovery Ngutyana all that is best in life. "The Power of Positive Thinking" "The Results of Positive Thinking" both written by the American psychologist Norman Vincent Peale, may be rewarding to read. The municipal library should stock them. I attach no importance to the metaphysical aspects of his arguments, but I consider his views on physical and psychological issues valuable. He makes the basic point that it is not so much the disability one suffers from that matters but one's attitude to it. The man who says: I will conquer this illness, live a happy life, is already half way through to victory. Of the talents you possess, the one that attracts me most is your courage and determination. This makes you stand head shoulders above the average will, in the end, bring you the triumph of high achievement. Do consciously keep this constantly in mind. 1969Letter to daughters Zeni and ZindziIn 1969, Winnie ???? ray ban aviator Madikizela Mandela was arrested with 21 others and detained for five months. In this letter to his daughters, Mr Mandela tells them: "For long you may live like orphans, without your own home and parents." Once again our beloved mummy has been arrested and now she and daddy are away in jail. My heart bleeds as I think of her sitting in some police cell far away from home, perhaps alone and without anybody to talk to, and with nothing to read. Twenty four hours of the day longing for her little ones. It may be many months or even years before you see her again. For long you may live, like vintage ray bans orphans, without your own home and parents, without the natural love, affection and protection mummy used to give you. Now you will get no birthday or Christmas parties, no presents or new dresses, no shoes or toys. Gone are the days when, after having a warm bath in the evening, you would sit at table with mummy and enjoy a her good and simple food. Gone are the comfortable beds, the warm blankets and clean linen she used to provide. She will not be there to arrange for friends to tak you to bioscopes, concerts and plays, or to tell you nice stories in the evening, help you read different books and to answer the many questions you would like to ask. She will be unable to give you the help and guidance you need as you ray ban aviators for sale grow older and as new problems arise. Perhaps never again will mummy and daddy join you in House no. 8115 Orlando West, the one place in the whole world that is so dear to our hearts. This is not the first time mummy goes to jail. In October 1958, only four months after our wedding, she was arrested with 2,000 other women when they protested against passes in Johannesburg and spent two weeks in jail. Last year she served four days, but now she has gone back again and I cannot tell you how long she will be away this time. All that I wish you always to bear in mind is that we have a brave and determined mummy who loves her people with all her heart. She gave up pleasure and comfort in return for a life full of hardship and misery, because of the deep love she has for her people and country. When you become adults and think carefully of the unpleasant experiences mummy has gone through, and the stubborness with which she has held to her beliefs, you will begin to realise the importance of her contribution in the battle for truth and justice and the extent to which she has sacrificed her own personal interests and happiness. 1970Letter to wife WinnieIn this 1970 letter to his wife, Mr Mandela recounts a novel written from the perspective of Pontius Pilate. A novel by Langenhoven, "Skaduwees van Nasaret" [Shadows of Nazareth], depicts the trial of Christ by Pontius Pilate when Israel was a Roman dependency and when Pilate was its military governor. I read the novel in 1964 now speak purely from memory. Yet though the incident described in the book occurred about 2,000 years ago, the story contains a moral whose truth is universal which is as fresh and meaningful today as it was at the height of the Roman empire. After the trial, Pilate writes to a friend in Rome to whom he makes remarkable confessions. Briefly this is the story as told by him, for convenience, I have put it in the first person. 1971Letter to ZeniIn 1971, Mr Mandela wrote this letter from prison to wish his daughter Zenani, who he called Zeni, a happy 12th birthday. Friday the 5th February this year was your 12th birthday and in January I sent you a card containing my congratulations and good wishes. Did you ray ban p get it? Again I say: many happy returns. It is not easy for me to believe that Zenani, who was only a baby when I last saw her, is now a big girl in Standard V at a boarding school, and doing subjects I never learnt at school, like French, physical science and maths. I still remember clearly the night when you were born in 1959. On February 4th that year, I returned home very late and found mummy highly restless. I rushed for the late Aunt Phyllis Mzaidume, and the two of us drove mummy to Baragwanath Hospital. There was a remarkable coincidence. Aunt Phyllis was herself born on the 5th February and on our way to Bara she hoped that you would be born on the same date, and that is exactly what happened. When she had of the news of your arrival, she was as happy as if she had created you. Your birth was a great relief to us. Only three months before this, mummy had spent fifteen days in jail under circumstances that were dangerous for a person in her condition. We did not know what harm might have been done to you and to her health, and were happy indeed to be blessed with a healthy and lovely daughter. Do you understand that you were nearly born in prison? Not many people have had your experience of having been in jail before they were born. You were only 25 months old when I left home and, though I met you frequently thereafter until January 1962 when I left the country for a short period, we never lived together again. You will probably not remember an incident that moved me very much at the time and about which I never like to think. Towards the end of 1961 you were brought to the house of a friend and I was already waiting when you came. I was wearing no jacket or hat. I took you into my arms and for about ten minutes we hugged, and fussed and talked. Then suddenly you seemed to have remembered something. You pushed me aside and began searching the room. In a corner you found the rest of my clothing. After collecting it, you gave it to me and asked me to go home. You held my hand for quite some time, pulling desperately and begging me to return. It was a difficult moment for both of us. You felt I had deserted you and mummy, and your request was a reasonable one. It was similar to the note that you added to mummy's letter of the 3rd December 1965, where you said: "Will you come home next year? My mother will fetch you with her car." Your age in 1961 made it difficult for me to explain my conduct to you. 1980Calendar entriesMr Mandela kept a series of desk calendars on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor and Victor Verster prisons, which run from 1976 to 1989. These record his everyday experiences. The entry on January 13, 1980 suggests milk for tea was an event, bringing home that simple necessities in the outside world were precious luxuries in prison. Other entries, such as the one here about Indira Gandhi, show Mr Mandela kept in touch with events in the outside world. Flock of ducks walks clumsily into the lounge and loiter about apparently unaware of my presence. Males with loud colours, but keeping their dignity and not behaving like playboys. Moments later they become aware of my presence. If they got a shock they endured it with grace. Nevertheless, I detect some invisible feeling of unease on their part. It seems as if their consciences are worrying them, and although I feared that very soon their droppings will decorate the expensive carpet, I derive some satisfaction when I notice that their consciences are worrying them. Suddenly they squawk repeatedly and then file out. I was relieved.
They behave far better than my grandchildren. They always leave the house upside down. 1994Notes from first parliamentary session as presidentThese simple notes record, in Mr Mandela's hand, a brief outline of proceedings notes from his first session of Parliament as president of South Africa, on May 25, 1994.
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