Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm no saint: Mandela

JOHANNESBURG - A NEW collection of Nelson Mandela's private papers reveals his years of heartache at missing his family while in prison and his wariness at becoming idolised, in excerpts published on Sunday.

The book 'Conversations with Myself' goes on sale on Tuesday, but passages printed in British and South African papers show his thoughts on everything from the danger of corruption in power to his grief at his son's death.

Decades' worth of letters, diaries and private recordings were distilled by his eponymous Foundation in a project that purports to show the private man behind the global icon.

Now 92, the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle against the white-minority apartheid government says he doesn't want to be remembered as a larger-than-life saint.

'One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint,' he said in an excerpt printed in South Africa's Sunday Times.

'I never was one, even on the basis of the earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps trying.' After 27 years in prison for resisting apartheid rule, Mr Mandela was released in 1990 and led negotiations with the government that culminated in his election as the country's first black president in 1994. He stepped down in 1999, after serving one term in office. Today he appears frail and makes few public appearances since retiring from public life in 2004. -- AFP

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