Journals about Mandela go on sale Tuesday

October 11, 2010 12:00 am

, JOHANNESBURG, Oct 11 – Nelson Mandela\’s private journals, letters and personal notes go on sale Tuesday in a book called "Conversations with Myself," showing the personal toll taken by his fight against apartheid.

Following are some thoughts of South Africa\’s first black president.

On equality:

"Our demand is for a nonracial society… We are fighting for a society where people will cease thinking in terms of colour… It\’s not a question of race; it\’s a question of ideas."

On the armed struggle:

"The actual situation on the ground may justify the use of violence which even good men and women may find it difficult to avoid. But even in such cases the use of force would be an exceptional measure whose primary aim is to create the necessary environment for peaceful solutions."

On the risk of execution:

"The threat of death evoked no desire in me to play the role of martyr. I was ready to do so if I had to. But the anxiety to live always lingered."

On imprisonment:

"At least, if for nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct, to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you. Regular meditation, say about 15 minutes a day before you turn in, can be very fruitful in this regard."

On life after prison:

"When I return (from prison) I shall have forgotten almost everything about law and will have to do something else for a living, perhaps dig roads, clean drains or go down the coal pits with pick and shovel."

On reconciliation:

"I am now working with the same people who threw me into jail, persecuted my wife, hounded my children from one school to the other… and I am one of those who was saying, \’Let us forget the past, and think of the present.\’"

On women:

"I\’ve been out of action for 16 years now and my views may be outdated. But I\’ve never regarded women as in any way less competent than men."

On writing:

"A good pen can also remind us of the happiest moments in our lives, bring noble ideas into our dens, our blood and our souls. It can turn tragedy into hope and victory."

On religion:

"From experience, it\’s far better, darling, to keep religious beliefs to yourself. You may unconsciously offend a lot of people by trying to sell them ideas they regard as unscientific and pure fiction."

On violence before the 1994 elections:

"The struggle is our life, and even though the moment of victory may not be at hand, we can nevertheless make that struggle immensely enriching or absolutely disastrous. In my entire political career, few things (have) distressed me as to see our people killing one another as is now happening."

On receiving criticism:

"It is a grave error for any leader to be oversensitive in the face of criticism… A leader should encourage and welcome (a) free and unfettered exchange of views. But no one should ever question the honesty of another comrade, whether he or she is a leader or ordinary member."


"AIDS is a major problem to be tackled by the entire world. To deal with it requires resources far beyond the capacity of one continent. No single country has the capacity to deal with it."

On his current wife, Graca Machel:

"I cannot describe my joy and happiness to receive the love and warmth of such a humble but gracious and brilliant lady."

On leadership:

"The leader\’s first task is to create a vision. His second is to create a following to help him implement the vision and to manage the process through effective teams."

On his election as president:

"My installation as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa was imposed on me much against my advice."

On the risks of corruption:

"But history never stops to play tricks even with seasoned and world-famous freedom fighters. Frequently erstwhile revolutionaries have easily succumbed to greed, and the tendency to divert public resources for personal enrichment ultimately overwhelmed them."


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