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On the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, comes a new portrait of one of the most inspiring historical figures of the twentieth century. Arrested in 1962 as South Africa’s apartheid regime intensified its brutal campaign against political opponents, forty-four-year-old lawyer and African National Congress activist Nelson Mandela had no idea that he would spend the next twenty-seven years in jail. During his 10,052 days of incarceration, Mandela wrote hundreds of letters to unyielding prison authorities, fellow activists, government officials, and most memorably to his wife, Winnie, and his five children. Now, 255 of these letters—a majority of which were previously unseen—provide an intimate view into the uncompromised morals of a great leader. In this special evening at ALOUD, Sahm Venter, the editor of this collection and a former Associated Press reporter who covered and was witness to Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, along with Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, the granddaughter of Nelson and Winnie who wrote the foreword, will share the stage with activists and actors to bring these deeply moving letters to life.

Swati Mandela-Dlamini

Swati Dlamini is the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the daughter of Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini and Princess Zenani Mandela. Mandela, who holds a degree in public relations and marketing from Midrand Graduate Institute, is the founding partner and managing director of Qunu Workforce, South Africa’s leading consultancy in creating equality in the workforce for those living with disabilities. Additionally, she co-authored the autobiography 491 Days with the Nelson Mandela Foundation about her grandmother, and is working with Mandy Jacobson to co-produce an authorized documentary about the life of Winnie Mandela. The film is set to be released this year in partnership with the Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s African Oral History Archive.


Sahm Venter

Sahm Venter is a former Associated Press reporter (who covered and was witness to Mandela’s release from prison in 1990) and a longtime researcher. She has co-edited several previous books, including Notes to the Future: Words of Wisdom; 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with Swati Dlamini; and Something to Write Home About: Reflections from the Heart of History, with Claude Colart. She also co-wrote Conversations with a Gentle Soul with the late anti-apartheid struggle hero, Ahmed Kathrada.


Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main Image: Sculpture by Marco Cianfanelli at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, South Africa Credit: Rene Leubert


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.


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