Books To Read: 491 Days: Prisoner number 1323/69

By Anne-Marie Muembo

The title itself is a reflection of the number of days she faced in confinement not knowing if, or when, the ordeal would ever end. Not knowing whether or not she would remain alive, not knowing whether or not she would ever see her children again.

Available on Kalahari and Amazon.

491 Days: Prisoner number 1323/69 details the struggles and trauma that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela faced during her trial, detention and solitary confinement for 491 days in a way that it has never been told before.

You will find incidences that challenged not only her dignity, but also her security and her motherhood. She was subjected to violent arrests at any random time of the day or night in front of her two minor daughters, and was also subjected to random raids that turned her home upside down. The harsh conditions of her detention resulted in poor health, a deterioration of her already threatening heart condition and constant worrying not only about the emotional and physical state of her children.

She recorded her recollections of agony in her prison journals which included letters between herself and Nelson Mandela during his detention at Robben Island, Cape Town. These letters detailed the inhumane treatment she was subjected to by the authorities, her constant visits to the hospital due to malnutrition and poor sanitation and most importantly, her determination to remain grounded no matter how close to the edge she was pushed.

The title itself is a reflection of the number of days she faced in confinement not knowing if, or when, the ordeal would ever end. Not knowing whether or not she would remain alive, not knowing whether or not she would ever see her children again. It is seemingly miraculous that Madikizela-Mandela endured what she did. This is not a book for the faint-hearted, and will certainly shed some light and understanding of what that greatly influenced and altered Madikizela-Mandela’s every being.

FURTHER READING/WATCHING:

WATCH: Winnie Mandela Official Movie Trailer

WATCH: Long Walk To Freedom Official Movie Trailer

READ: Winnie Mandela South African History

 

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