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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 writers to bring these deeply moving letters to life.

Join us for a post-program reception in the Library’s courtyard!

Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela

Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela is a granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She works as a business developer and is a public speaker and entrepreneur. Through her public speaking she is endeavoring to promote her grandparents’ legacy by sharing their message of youth empowerment through education, with a particular focus on gender equality.


Sahm Venter

Sahm Venter worked as a journalist for over twenty years, mainly covering the anti-apartheid struggle, including Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 for the Associated Press and South Africa’s transition to democracy. Venter was a member of the editorial team for Nelson Mandela’s books Conversations with Myself and Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years. She has edited and co-authored a number of books with some of South Africa’s most prominent freedom fighters including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada. She is currently senior researcher at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.


Learn more about tonight’s readers:

Ashaki Jackson
Michael Datcher
Amanda Gorman

Music provided by:

Nnamdi Moweta


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 7:15 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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