Mac Maharaj (pictured below) tells the BBC’s “Witness” how he smuggled Nelson Mandela‘s autobiography out of Robben Island prison in 1975. Mandela wrote the manuscript by night in his cell, and Maharaj, one of Mandela’s closest allies in prison, painstakingly transcribed it the next day so there would be two copies. Bravely, he hid his copy among his study materials when he was released from prison. Maharaj is arguably the single reason that Mandela’s international bestseller “Long Walk to Freedom” exists today – especially because the original draft written by Mandela was eventually discovered by prison guards. Maharaj tells the BBC about the importance of the political autobiography:
We were living in a society where the history of our struggle was not covered anywhere – not even in academia. Everything in history was the history about the white man. So that in itself was an exciting exercise to put down on paper the life of one man who was so central [to the struggle], and whose autobiography was really a political autobiography. One had a sense that Mandela had already become a national and international figure and that it would be an inspiration to read our history.
Hear Maharaj tell the incredible full story here.