'I was never a saint', says Mandela's newly disclosed writings

Johannesburg, Dec 7: South Africa's anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela had grave concerns about his global idolisation as a saint by his followers. As people across South Africa participated in a wide range of activities over the weekend to commemorate the first death anniversary of the iconic leader, his Foundation announced plans to publish a sequel to his world's best-selling book 'Long Walk to Freedom'.

Mandela's archivist Verne Harris said the former South African president had handwritten 10 chapters for the sequel from 1998, but stopped four years later. The papers are maintained at the Nelson Mandela Foundation archives in Johannesburg. In one section, Mandela expressed his concerns about the idolisation.

Nelson Mandela

"One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image I unwittingly projected to the outside world of being regarded as a saint. I never was one even on the basis of an earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying," Mandela wrote.

Harris said plans were now underway to finalise the sequel to the book, incorporating those chapters, with former African National Congress senior leader Joel Netshitenzhe. Although Mandela rewrote the chapters several times, he had never finished the book, which Netshitenzhe has now been tasked with.

Mandela had also left a handwritten note in which he listed those to whom the script should be given on a strictly confidential basis for their comments before reworking it further. Besides Netshitenzhe, the others were current President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the former chief executive of the Foundation John Samuels and trusted fellow prisoner Mac Maharaj, who had transcribed parts of the first book in tiny writing which was smuggled out of Robben Island where they were held.


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