page 1 - Autograph Hunters [slLztDkrh5I]

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Reference code

ZA COM NMPP 2009/57-56-1


Autograph Hunters [slLztDkrh5I]


  • 1993-04-22 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1 audio clip
In-point: 03:20
Out-point: 06:06

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Name of creator

(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

Biographical history

Name of creator


Biographical history

Editor and author. Collaborated with Mandela on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (published 1994). Co-producer of the documentary Mandela, 1996. Editor of TIME magazine.

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Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Richard Stengel

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Scope and content

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.

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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Copyright held by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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MANDELA: And then we proceeded to London. I was recovering but I came out of the hotel, I was not aware that it was raining, turned out it was raining, and Winnie said to me, ‘please let’s go back for your coat’. So I was, I didn’t want to be late for the British Prime Minister and I wanted to be in time. I said, ‘no, let’s go we’ll be late if we go back’. So when I got into the car a few drops caught me. And that made it worse, there was actually, now the pneumonia became very serious but as I was going out I met a group of youngsters, again in their teens and they wanted autographs so in order to push them away I said, ‘Look I’m in a hurry, when I come back I’ll give it to you’. And they said, ‘What time?’ I said, ‘Sometime in the afternoon’. And so I forgot about the thing. When I was coming back I was also rushing for another appointment and I found them now they were still waiting. They were there in the morning about nine o’clock, when I came back about four o’clock they were still waiting. So I say, ‘Well, gentlemen, I am sorry I am rushing for an appointment.’ They say, ‘you promised, you gave us your word of, your word of honour. We’ve have waited for you – sign!’ But when they said I had given, pledged my honour, I found it very difficult, so I signed each one, you see wanted me to sign about five or six and, so I did this very patiently and as I was signing one of our chaps you see, said, ‘No, Ssign one’. But the children had waited there for the whole day you see so I signed everything they gave me. And they said to me, ‘No, they are going to sell the others, the other autographs’ [LAUGHS] that’s what they do. They hunt for autographs you see, and then they go round and say, ‘look, do you want the autograph of so and so? Here it is’. Five notes, five pounds, something like that?
STENGEL: They tricked you.
MANDELA: So they what-you-call they must have made some money. [LAUGHS]

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