Mandela’s notes

Writing those first drafts of history is a cliché lumped on us journalists. But this here is a real first draft of history.

Nelson Mandela’s scrawl, notes jotted in an exercise book. A speech imperfect in its scratched out words, perhaps written on the fly.

The jottings of a speech

“It is an ideal for which I have lived; it is an ideal for which I still hope to live and see realised. But if it needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. “

A first draft that was to change when Mandela gave it voice from the dock on April 20, 1964.

The final two sentences of a famous speech.

That was the first day of the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial.

A world changing speech seen in its raw form, before it was cleaned up and eagle eyed by a lawyer. The nucleus of an idea already there.

This is a piece of history, that now sits in the Wits Art Museum, in Braamfontein and is part of a display of 90 artefacts to celebrate 90 years of the university. Nice to witness.

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About Shaun Smillie

Journalist, with a love of bones, fossils and other things dug up. Fisherman and occasional beer maker.
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