Mandela receiving a copy of "Conversations with Myself"


Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

The item consists of a video recording of Nelson Mandela receiving a copy of the book "Conversations with Myself" from his daughter Zindzi Mandela and struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada. It includes footage of Zindzi visiting the archive repository and viewing some of the original archival documents with Verne Harris, Head of the Centre of Memory.

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  • Title: Mandela receiving a copy of "Conversations with Myself"
  • Date: 2010-10, 2010-10
  • Transcript: [off camera chat] AHMED KATHRADA: The country and the world is going to listen and read about what you say in your own words NELSON MANDELA: I see AHMED KATHRADA: and not what other people are saying what you are saying through the letters, through the interviews, through the calendar, through your notebooks NELSON MANDELA: Aha AHMED KATHRADA: everything is in your words. NELSON MANDELA: I see AHMED KATHRADA: So it’s unprecedented and unique in that sense NELSON MANDELA: Are those the letters I wrote in prison? AHMED KATHRADA: From prison NELSON MANDELA: From prison, yes AHMED KATHRADA: Mainly to Winnie and to Zindzi and Zeni NELSON MANDELA: I see AHMED KATHRADA: You have publicly said that you should not be treated as a saint. Because you’ve got short-comings like all human beings have, but that we have been saying that, what you have said to us and what you have been ... this here is in your own words. NELSON MANDELA: I see AHMED KATHRADA: this what you are saying here and that is being quoted NELSON MANDELA: I see AHMED KATHRADA: in your own words NELSON MANDELA: Hmm, that’s good AHMED KATHRADA: So there are various aspects ranging from so many different things which have been written about but not in your own words. NELSON MANDELA: I see AHMED KATHRADA: And here we’ll have it all, everything, from beginning to end, all in your own words [off camera chat] NELSON MANDELA: I see, aha ZINDZI MANDELA: We are here today to show you this wonderful publication NELSON MANDELA: I see NELSON MANDELA: Forward by President Barack Obama. Hmm, that’s interesting ZINDZI MANDELA: What about the first time you learned to shoot in Morocco? AHMED KATHRADA: Well that was, Morocco, ah Algeria was still fighting its liberation struggle but neighbouring Morocco had allowed the Algerians to set up Algerian camps NELSON MANDELA: Yes AHMED KATHRADA: in Morocco. And that is where Madiba had part of his training. And also to brush up on his shooting abilities. Laughter NELSON MANDELA: You see when the Algerians said, ‘can you shoot that point across the valley?’ and I shot. They all screamed ‘is it your first time to shoot?’ I said, ‘Yes’ (laughs). They wouldn’t believe that. I didn’t want to say, ‘No, I’ve shot before’. But I said, ‘No, it’s my first time’. NELSON MANDELA: I’ll read this at home AHMED KATHRADA: I think it’s something that’s unprecedented. A lot has been written about Madiba in South Africa, all over the world. But there’s hardly anything that is in his own words. In his own written words, and speaking on tape. There’s just nothing like it [off camera chat] VERNE HARRIS: You might remember this story of how these two notebooks were removed from Madiba’s cell on Robben Island for the security police to look for coding and they were never returned to him. Donald Card, the former security policeman kept them in his house for over 30 years and then in 2004 he brought them back and gave them to Madiba. These are what are called by Madiba himself, ‘Family Correspondence’, notebooks so you can see that’s Madiba’s hand. And what he did was he would draft letters here, then he would transcribe from here onto the paper to be sent. Now you might recognise this one, this is 1969. ZINDZI MANDELA reading: ‘The nice letter written by Zindzi reached me safely. I was indeed very glad to know that she is now in Standard Two. Wow, it’s 1969 VERNE HARRIS: Ja ZINDZI MANDELA: Oh my word, this is so sweet VERNE HARRIS: That’s to you and Zeni ‘my darlings’ ZINDZI MANDELA: Oh man [off camera chat] ZINDZI MANDELA: I just, you know, I think it’s a very beautiful gift to me right now and to anybody else who would be reading the book. I came across like a letter that he wrote to me, that I obviously didn’t get, where he was analysing my poetry and so on. It was such a, you know it was very touching, it was quite emotional [off camera chat] VERNE HARRIS: So we were saying, Zindzi, he started in ’76 and he didn’t record much in those days, I think he was using it mainly as a calendar but then progressively he started writing more and more ... VERNE HARRIS: in 1989 and towards the end and you’ll see that he’s keeping quite detailed records now and sometimes it’s as simple as a visit [off camera chat] VERNE HARRIs: But he would also write down sometimes a dream or a reflection on something that had been said or something that happened and also his weight and his blood pressure, you can see he’s recording that. [off camera chat] Soundbite Verne Harris: Well I think the book is significant because it enables us to hear the voice of the human being behind the public figure, for members of the public to engage Madiba not speaking to a particular audience but rather reflecting, speaking to himself. You’re not going to find that outside of his archive and the book endeavours to make that archive accessible to people.
  • Type: Video
  • Repository: Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
  • Reference code: ZA COM NMFP-2010/101, ZA COM NMFP-2010/101
  • Immediate source of acquisition or transfer: Sahm Venter, Sahm Venter
  • Finding aids: Finding Aid available, Finding Aid available
  • Extent and Medium: 1 dvd with video clip, 1 dvd with video clip
  • Creator: Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
  • Conditions governing reproduction: Copyright held by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Copyright held by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
  • Conditions governing access: Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
  • Collection: Miscellaneous videos, Miscellaneous videos


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