PEN SA to Co-Launch The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela on 25 July

06 Jul 2018
PEN SA to Co-Launch The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela on 25 July

In celebration of the centenary of the birth of former South African president Nelson Mandela, PEN South Africa is partnering with Penguin Random House South Africa, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation and The Fugard Theatre for an evening of discussion about and readings from the correspondence of the world’s most famous imprisoned writer, to be held on 25 July at the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town.

The South African launch of The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela, edited by Sahm Venter, will be centred around a discussion panel that includes Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and Justice Albie Sachs, along with readings from Mandela’s letters – most of which have been unpublished until now – by Buhle Ngaba and Koleka Putuma.

Other events to celebrate Mandela and the book are being held by our colleagues at PEN Centres in England and the United States.

This is a free, ticketed event with a total of 200 tickets. Paid-up PEN SA Professional Members and Supporters may apply for a ticket to the event. Remaining tickets will be made available to the public through the Fugard Theatre’s ticketing system on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tickets are now available from the Fugard Theatre Box Office.

Paid up PEN SA members may mail us to claim their free ticket.

The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela provides a deeply personal view of Mandela’s period of imprisonment from 1962 to 1990, painting an intimate portrait of a political activist who was as much a devoted husband, adoring father, dedicated student (studying for a law degree behind bars), and abiding friend.

A father of five when he was sentenced to life imprisonment, his letters home became a critical means of parenting in absentia – particularly as he was denied visitation rights until his children had reached the age of sixteen.

During his incarceration, Mandela would pen a multitude of letters to loved ones, compatriots, prison authorities, and government officials. At first he was only allowed to write and receive one letter of five hundred words every six months. Even when restrictions were finally loosened regarding the length and regularity of his correspondence, his jailors continued censoring his letters for political overtones – even innocuous references. The ultimate output reflects the famed Mandela willfulness and resilience; here every word is chosen as if his life depended upon it.