Launch of the Partnership against Aids ; For media enquiries, contact Faizal Dawjee For other information about the Partnership Against Aids launch, contact Karen Bulsara. see https://www.gov.za/about-government/government-programmes/declaration for the declaration
1 page of a printed desk calendar with handwritten notes covering the year of 1987. The calendar was used as a diary by Nelson Mandela while in prison and contains entries concerning matters such as visits, dreams, films, books, personal health and politics.
Electronic files (MS Word - converted to PDF and jpeg) of Nelson Mandela's original autobiography written on Robben Island. It covers his life story from birth to about 1976. It was intended that the manuscript be published to mark Mr Mandela's 60th birthday in 1978 and help draw attention to the freedom struggle. The ANC leadership decided not to publish it. It later formed the basis for Mr Mandela's autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom".
Story: After years of talks about talks, and then actual talks, the parties in South Africa agreed in June 1993 that the country would hold its first democratic elections on 27 April 1994. The elderly, infirm and pregnant women went to the polls the day before. An extra day was added on for voting after it became clear that more time was needed. Here Nelson Mandela talks humorously about a retreat at which the date of the elections was discussed between the African National Congress and the South African government.
In the latter part of his imprisonment Nelson Mandela made overtures towards the apartheid regime when he thought the time was right. He was not negotiating, but he was talking to them about the conditions for actual talks between the ruling National Party and the African National Congress. Once he was released from prison on 11 February 1990 he and his colleagues began meeting with the regime. This paved the way for the full-blown multi-party talks at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) which began on 20 December 1991 and ended in 1993 when the date for South Africa’s first democratic elections was announced. Here he talks about the ending of the armed struggle in August 1990.
Nelson Mandela is renowned for his love of children and young people and often speaks of how important they are to the future of any country and the world as a whole. Here he relates an incident that occurred soon after his release from prison as he was en route from Canada to Ireland. In Canada’s Goose Bay he had a few minutes at the airport between flights and decided to go and talk to a group of young people. It turned out that they were members of Canada’s Inuit community and Mr Mandela is unashamed about his ignorance of their culture.
As this story reveals, honour is very important to Nelson Mandela. He was not well on a trip to London and put off meeting a group of youngsters waiting outside his hotel. He was forced to bow to their demands, particularly since he had promised to give them autographs. The youngsters waited for hours in the rain for his return from a visit to the British Prime Minister. They played to his honourable side and they got what they wanted.
While he was negotiating the end of apartheid and the beginning of democracy, Nelson Mandela addressed thousands of people. He travelled the world and South Africa both to gather continued support for the process and to listen to the views and concerns of his people. Here he talks about addressing a rally in 1993 and explains how he dealt with the militancy of the youth.
Multi-party talks to end apartheid came undone more than once and usually it was because Nelson Mandela led his African National Congress team out of the negotiations in protest. These breakdowns usually were brought about by ongoing violence in the black communities, which Mr. Mandela and his colleagues believed had been caused by the apartheid regime’s collusion and orchestration in the violence. Here he talks about one such incident and an exchange he had with both President De Klerk and the police minister about it.
Once Nelson Mandela had angered his guardian, the King, by getting himself expelled from the University College of Fort Hare, it was decided that the problem would be solved by an arranged marriage. He and Justice, his cousin and the king’s son, were presented with the plan: The King had found them both wives. It was this action on the King’s part that directly led to Mr Mandela’s exodus from the countryside and journey into the rapidly industrialising arms of the city of Johannesburg. It was there that he became interested in politics and set himself on the path to his destiny – overthrowing apartheid.
While he was born in the Eastern Cape village of Mvezo, the only son of his father’s third wife, Nelson Mandela spend most of his early childhood in Qunu and later moved to Mqhekezweni after his father died. He has always enjoyed returning to Qunu where he built a house after his release from prison in 1990. Uppermost in his mind as a free man was to visit Qunu where his parents were laid to rest. His mother Nosekeni had died in her Seventies in 1968 when her son was imprisoned on Robben Island. As soon as he could, he visited her grave and that of his father Nkosi (Chief) Mphakanyiswa who had died when he was a boy.
Nelson Mandela was one of the founding members of the African National Congress Youth League. In fact he only joined the ANC when the Youth League was founded in 1944. Here he talks about the founding of the organisation and, at the same time, reveals his frankness about his own short-comings: in this case how nervous he was about engaging in political discussions and meetings.
When Nelson Mandela went to prison he studied the language of the oppressor, Afrikaans. He also studied the history of the Afrikaner as well as their struggle against the British. He read some of the Afrikaans writers in Afrikaans and enjoyed the books. One of the authors whose work he enjoyed was one of South Africa’s foremost writers, CJ Langenhoven, who also wrote the national anthem Die Stem for the apartheid state. Langenhoven was a member of parliament who worked to have Afrikaans recognised as an official language in South Africa. When Nelson Mandela was in prison only English and Afrikaans were official languages. When he became president of the country he included nine African languages.
Robben Island prison had a library for each section of the prison. The libraries were staffed by prisoners and a fair amount of interesting literature escaped the censors who tried to ensure that subversive material did not get into the hands of the prisoners. One of Nelson Mandela’s close comrades, Ahmed Kathrada, was at one stage a librarian in B Section where he, Mr Mandela, and about two dozen other prisoners were held. If books arrived in the library they could be read. Books that just mentioned the name ‘Mandela’ for example did not make it. Here Mr Mandela talks about some of the books he read on Robben Island.
One of the books Nelson Mandela read in prison was the biography of one of apartheid’s leaders, Prime Minister John Vorster. This story about the book also reveals another of Mr Mandela’s characteristics – that he always tries to “take something out” of a situation or an experience. Things and people are usually neither all bad nor all good. He detested what Vorster stood for as Prime Minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978, but in this conversation he shows that he found something upon which to compliment him.