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New letters show Nelson Mandela's prison anguish

Publication of new memoirs reveal depths of South African leader’s agony during his incarceration.

Image: Debbie Yazbek/AP/Press Association Images

A NEW MEMOIR BY NELSON MANDELA published tomorrow will contain excerpts of letters written by the former South African president revealing the anguish he suffered during his prison years.

Mandela was in prison for 27 years before being finally released in 1990.

He had copied his letters into exercise books which were confiscated by authorities but were returned to him in 2004, according to the BBC.

The book, Conversations With Myself, comprises Mandela’s personal archive including journals, letters, speeches and notebooks.

Newser quotes extracts from the letters, reporting that he repeatedly wrote of the anguish he felt upon being separated from his then-wife, Winnie Mandela:

I feel I have been soaked in gall, every part of me, my flesh, bloodstream, bone and soul, so bitter am I to be completely powerless to help you in the rough and fierce ordeals you are going through.

In one letter to his children written in 1969 as both he and their mother were in prison, Mandela wrote:

Now you will get no birthday presents or new dresses no shoes or toys.

The letters also allegedly chart the increasingly fraught relationship between Mandela and his former wife, Winnie.

She walked by his side upon his release from Robben Island prison on 11 February, 1990, but the couple divorced two years later:

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