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Nelson Mandela the Book Editor: Elinor Sisulu Recalls His Input on Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime

Walter and Albertina SisuluFollowing the passing of Nelson Mandela on 5 December, Elinor Sisulu, author of Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime, recalls how he had agreed to read sections of the manuscript when she was working on the book. Merely a week later, Mandela had finished closely examining the documents she sent him.

“I was taken aback by his detailed comments, some corrections of historical fact, questions for clarity and grammar and spelling corrections,” writes Sisulu in an article for The Indian Express, although she disregarded instances where he had changed the writing to a “legal and more stilted” tone.

When the former president next saw her, he wanted to know when she would send the rest of the manuscript. “I apologised for my slowness of writing and thanked him for his detailed edit. I suggested that if he was ever out of a job, he could become an editor,” writes Sisulu. Mandela also wrote the foreword to the book and spoke at the launch, eager for Walter Sisulu’s life to be recorded.

In this article, Elinor Sisulu also fondly recalls other, often humorous, details of the Madiba she knew:

My most abiding memory of Nelson Mandela is of a visit he made to the Sisulu home after his farewell banquet as president of South Africa in 1999. We received an early morning call from my mother-in-law, Albertina Sisulu, to be at the house before nine because Madiba would be visiting Walter (my father-in-law). Given that we had attended the farewell banquet, arriving home after midnight, we thought it quite unreasonable for Madiba to drag us out of our beds at that early hour. “Doesn’t he ever get tired?” asked my husband, Max.

Far from being tired, Mandela arrived promptly, looking fresh and relaxed, accompanied by his gracious and lovely wife, Graca Machel. It was a perfect Highveld morning, and they chose to sit on the veranda to enjoy the mild sunshine. Since I was the first family member to arrive, I served the tea and listened to Walter praise his friend for the success of his presidency.

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Image courtesy ChrismaNews


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