The personal archive of Nelson Mandela will be opened for a new memoir; rights the collection of diaries, letters and other writings were auctioned this week at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

From the Guardian UK:

“Mandela himself, who bestowed these “traces of my life and those who have lived it with me” on his eponymous foundation, hopes the collection will afford the world a glimpse into his mind and his past.

“Anyone who has explored the world of archives will know that it is a treasure house, one that is full of surprises, crossing paths, dead ends, painful reminders and unanswered questions,” he said.”

In his address at the ceremony to launch the Centre of Memory and Commemoration/Mandela Foundation in 2004, Mandela said:

“In our view the work of archives in the South Africa of today is potentially one of the most critical contributions to restoration and reconciliation. All of us have a powerful moral obligation to the many voices and stories either marginalised or suppressed during the apartheid era.”

At that ceremony former security policeman Donald Card – who had given evidence against Mandela at the 1964 Rivonia trial – returned two diaries written by Mandela during his Robben Island incarceration. Card had acquired them in 1971 in his capacity as censor, but already disillusioned by apartheid, stashed them secretly in a cupboard in his home. From Salon:

“A firm believer in apartheid, Card was sent volumes of confiscated correspondence after recruiting an informant who offered to decode political meanings in apparently innocuous personal letters. However, under the influence of the campaigning newspaper editor Donald Woods, the policeman decided Mandela was not a terrorist and resigned from the force in 1971. Because of an administrative error the correspondence continued arriving. Recognizing the notebooks’ value, he hid them, and after Mandela’s release in 1990 he made several attempts to hand them over, finally succeeding when the foundation set up a center of memory and commemoration and paid attention.”

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