On June 1, 1970, Nelson Mandela wrote a letter to his daughters Zeni and Zindzi, from his prison cell on Robben Island.
The letter provides insight into his family life at the time. His wife, Winnie Mandela, had been imprisoned the previous year, and he writes that he has no idea how his children were getting by.
He also didn’t know whether or not his letter would reach them, as two previous letters had never found their way to his daughters.
But he wrote the letters anyway, reports The Guardian, and he signed them, “Tons of love, Daddy.”
This letter and other incredible objects from the life of Nelson Mandela will be on display at ‘Mandela: The Official Exhibition’, taking place in a number of galleries in London, before embarking on a global tour.
Mandela: The Official Exhibition traces the former South African president’s extraordinary life from his early years in a small farming community in the remote Transkei region, to his education and political activism, his arduous imprisonment, long-awaited release and late-in-life roles as his nation’s first post-apartheid president and global peacemaker.
Chief Nkosi Zwelivelile (Mandla) Mandela, seen below, the former president’s oldest grandson and the exhibition’s co-curator, said he hoped the retelling of his grandfather’s life would serve as “an inspiration to humanity”.
He also says that his grandfather’s only regret about his commitment to the struggle was that it took him away from his family.
Among the 150 artefacts and personal items on display are the rough sisal mat on which Mandela slept during his incarceration on Robben Island, the master key to his cell, the trenchcoat he acquired on leaving prison and wore frequently after his release, and the white lion skin which was laid, with a flag of South Africa, on his coffin after he died in 2013.
Chief Mandela says that his favourite object on show at the exhibition is the Patek Philippe watch Mandela wore every day as president, which he always set to South African time regardless of where he was travelling.
“My grandfather was always very cautious of time,” he said. “If he set a meeting for 10 o’clock he was there 15 minutes early.”
Zelda la Grange, who worked for Mandela as his personal assistant and later manager of his private office for 19 years during and after his presidency, has also provided items for the exhibition, including medical notes, pages of his diary showing his intense travelling schedule, and his United Nations identity card.
Should be a fascinating exhibition.
You can find out more about it here.
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