Ahmed Kathrada

Listed in: African Studies · Diaries and Journals · Letters · History · Women’s Studies · African History




491 Days · Prisoner Number 1323/69
By Winnie Madikizela-Mandela · Foreword by Ahmed Kathrada

On a freezing winter’s night, a few hours before dawn on May 12, 1969, South African security police stormed the Soweto home of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, activist and wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela, and arrested her in the presence of her two young daughters, then aged nine and ten. Rounded up in a group of other antiapartheid activists under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, designed for the security police to hold and interrogate people for as long as they wanted, she was taken away.

“In 1969, five years after Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage, Winnie Mandela was rounded up with other anti-apartheid activists and jailed for 16 months. The journal she kept during her imprisonment forms half of this book; the other half consists of letters by Nelson to his wife, daughters, relatives and prison officials. Throughout, the author documents sadistic maltreatment: a diet consisting mainly of insect-infested porridge, filthy cells, and, for many prisoners, daily beatings…. Taken together, these documents afford a chilling perspective on the Mandelas’ personal and political struggles.”

Kirkus Reviews