491 DAYS BOOK
But in her new book, a collection of letters and diary entries from her days in prison, is a powerful reminder of what she was best known for. These give a. Editorial Reviews. Review. “In , five years after Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life Similar books to Days: Prisoner Number /69 ( Modern African Writing Series). Days book. Read 20 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. On a freezing winter's night, a few hours before dawn on 12 , secu.
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Apr 2, Days: Prisoner Number / Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; Edited by Swati Dlamini and Sahm Venter Picador Africa. About the book. Read " Days Prisoner Number /69" by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get About this book. Pages. Jan 23, 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 they wonder why I am like I am. We wonder how he had such a wife who is so violent? The leadership was removed and cushioned behind prison walls; they had their three meals a day. In fact, ironically, we must thank the authorities for keeping our leadership alive; they were not tortured. They did not know what we were talking about and when we were reported to be so violent, engaged in the physical struggle, fighting the Boers underground, they did not understand because none of them had ever been subjected to that, not even Madiba himself—they never touched him, they would not have dared.
It did not matter who the hell I was; it did not matter that I was a Madikizela; it did not matter that I was a human being. I am going to fix them. I will fight them and I will establish my own identity.
I fought for that. I am going to form my own identity because I never did bask in his ideas. I became a nobody and I had grown up walking tall in my home. I had been taught by my mother and my father that I must walk tall. I am me; I am black; I must be proud of my blackness. This book was a disappointment. I am not even sure I can call it a book — more like disjointed collection of notes, journal entries and letters.
I was disappointed because my expectations going into it — to learn about the fierce, resilient, strong woman that was Winnie Mandela — were not met. The book begins with the arrest of Winnie on 12 May on charges of terrorism.
She is detained and interrogated for days by the Apartheid government on her activities in the ANC. She would end up spending days in jail and undergoing 2 different trials whilst incarcerated.
In her journal, Winnie describes the state of her deteriorating health, her prison cell and detainment — having to live on one Mealie meal a day and rotten porridge for breakfast, a single unsanitary bucket that would serve as her toilet, sink and table, being held in solitary confinement for days on end and what that can do to the human psyche and her frustrations with the prison wardens and SA government during the period of her detention.
Her resilience, dedication and commitment to South Africa was inspiring. It is the most vicious punishment that you could wish on your worst enemy. You are imprisoned in this little cell. When you stretch your hands you touch the walls. You are reduced to a nobody, a non-value.
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It is like killing you alive. You are alive because you breathe.
You are deprived of everything—your dignity, your everything. We were held incommunicado. We were not allowed to even see a lawyer. In those days we were completely at their mercy. Some families never knew that their loved ones died after they were detained. We were lucky to be alive and it was purely because of my name that I survived because the easiest thing for them at the time would have been to kill me, which they threatened every day.
Because they were meant to break us and they could not believe that anyone would resist them like that? When we were released the first time I had red lips from pellagra and my skin was peeling because even when you tried to eat you brought up because you were very, very hungry. We were supposed to be awaiting-trial prisoners but they did not treat us as such. Our lawyers had to make an application to the Supreme Court for us to be brought food and then when they brought this food if it was bread they would break the bread.
They were searching to see if there was anything hidden in it. They would break the fruit open so you got your food in pieces—just to humiliate you and to show that you are a nobody. They reduced you to such levels. They still searched you in your cell despite the fact that you had nothing other than the clothes you were wearing, two blankets and a mat.
We had a plastic bottle with two-and-a-half litres of water for the whole day. That was your ration for the day and you drank from the bottle—there was no glass, you drank from that. Then you wiped your face with that and you just wiped your armpits and yourself.
One of our lawyers, George Bizos, had to apply for us to wash.
An application had to be brought before the Supreme Court for months to allow us to wash properly. Solitary confinement was designed to kill you so slowly that you were long dead before you died. By the time you died, you were nobody.
You had no soul anymore and a body without a soul is a corpse anyway. It is unbelievable that you survived all that. When I was told that most of my torturers were dead, I was so heartbroken. I wanted them to see the dawn of freedom.
I wanted them to see how they lost their battle with all that they did to us, that we survived. We are the survivors who made this history. When I was in detention for all those months, my two children nearly died. When I came out they were so lean; they had had such a hard time. They were covered in sores, malnutrition sores. And they wonder why I am like I am. We wonder how he had such a wife who is so violent? The leadership was removed and cushioned behind prison walls; they had their three meals a day.
In fact, ironically, we must thank the authorities for keeping our leadership alive; they were not tortured.
They did not know what we were talking about and when we were reported to be so violent, engaged in the physical struggle, fighting the Boers underground, they did not understand because none of them had ever been subjected to that, not even Madiba himself—they never touched him, they would not have dared. We were the foot soldiers.
We were their cannon fodder and it was us who were used as their political barometer each time they wanted to find out how the country was going to react. They tortured us knowing that it was going to leak to the country and they wanted to test the reaction.
Tata could not comprehend how I had become so violent in the eyes of the police. They knew that I was involved with the military wing of the ANC and they knew I was a leader of the struggle underground. They knew I saved soldiers who infiltrated into the country. But we learnt all kinds of tricks to protect ourselves against them.
Not one of those cadres was arrested, and they were right under their noses.
If I had a very dangerous unit, which was in the high command and involved in special operations, I hid them around the police station.
And they could not catch me because I discovered that the only way to survive those days was to operate alone. There was always a danger of getting someone killed by merely associating with them.
491 Days : Prisoner Number 1323/69
That is why I never knew their real names. I never knew the names of the units that infiltrated the country.It was possible they did that deliberately, but my reaction was that if you have arrested the man you must destroy what he left behind. Because they were meant to break us and they could not believe that anyone would resist them like that?
We were lucky to be alive and it was purely because of my name that I survived because the easiest thing for them at the time would have been to kill me, which they threatened every day. I will fight them and I will establish my own identity. They would break the fruit open so you got your food in pieces—just to humiliate you and to show that you are a nobody. I am still on the lookout for a book that is about Winnie Mandela — send me your recommendations.
That is how we addressed her.
I am going to walk tall. They still searched you in your cell despite the fact that you had nothing other than the clothes you were wearing, two blankets and a mat.
Then you wiped your face with that and you just wiped your armpits and yourself.
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