Former colleagues of Nelson Mandela are working to complete a book that South Africa's first black president began writing shortly before he left office as a sequel to his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom", his archivist said on Monday. By Ed Cropley.
In the first draft of “The Presidential Years”, dated Oct. 16, 1998 and seen by Reuters at the Nelson Mandela Foundation archives, the anti-apartheid hero writes of the hopes, fears and fragilities of liberation movements the world over.
Two decades after the end of white minority rule, some sections may make uncomfortable reading for the present leaders of Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) and President Jacob Zuma, who is embroiled in a scandal over a 206 million rand ($20 million) taxpayer-funded upgrade to his private home.
“History never stops to play tricks even with seasoned world-famous freedom fighters,” Mandela wrote after outlining the struggle of successful liberation movements to introduce clean government and narrow the gap between rich and poor.
“Frequently, erstwhile revolutionaries have easily succumbed to greed and the tendency to divert public resources for personal enrichment ultimately overwhelmed them,” continued Mandela, who is now 95 and in poor health.
“By amassing vast personal wealth, and by betraying the noble objectives which made them famous, they virtually deserted the masses of the people and joined the former oppressors, who enriched themselves by mercilessly robbing the poorest of the poor,” he wrote, without naming anyone.
Since Mandela left office in 1999 after just one term, South Africa has slid down the rankings in global graft watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index from 38th in 2001 to 69th last year.
After 19 years of ANC rule, Africa’s biggest economy also remains one of the world’s most unequal societies. While many South Africans still endure deep poverty, unemployment and bad housing, some senior ANC officials are prospering.
For instance, Cyril Ramaphosa – Zuma’s deputy as leader of the ANC who was once touted as a successor to Mandela – was named this month as Africa’s 29th richest man by Forbes magazine, worth $700 million.
“Long Walk to Freedom”, Mandela’s 1994 work that covers his early life and almost three decades in jail, has just been made into a film.
However, with Mandela laid low for months by a lung infection and unable to speak because of tubes in his throat, according to ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, there is no prospect of his ever completing the sequel.
Mandela Foundation chief executive Sello Hatang said former colleagues had begun the attempt to finish the work, based on Mandela’s own writings, other archive material and their personal recollections of the Nobel peace laureate.
“It’s a collective work, a project by the people who worked with Mandela in that office,” Hatang told Reuters at the Foundation in Johannesburg, where Mandela spent his professional time after leaving office.
He declined to say who was working on the book or when it might be published.
Intriguingly, a page attached by paper-clip to the hand-written first draft lists five people who are to be given copies of the 10 chapters of the book “on a strictly confidential basis”.
The five are Ramaphosa, former Foundation chief executive John Samuels, Zuma’s current spokesman Mac Maharaj, former ANC heavyweight Joel Netshitenzhe and then Zuma himself. It makes no mention of Mandela’s immediate successor, Thabo Mbeki.
The manuscript also provides insight into Mandela’s personal thoughts. On the back of one page, he calculates his years spent behind bars (1990 – 1962 = 28), as well as his age at the start of his incarceration, and then at his release in 1990.
In another passage he describes his awkwardness at being put on a pedestal by his countrymen and millions more around the globe.
“One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image that I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint,” he wrote. “I never was one even on the basis of an earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” DM
Photo: Nelson Mandela (Reuters)
"Take a chance, won't you? Knock down the fences which divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison you. Reach out. Freedom lies just on the other side." ~ Thurgood Marshall