Last updated: 15 october, 2010 - 12:28 GMT


Mandela: In His Own Words

Nelson Mandela wrote a letter every day of his life. He also wrote diaries, kept notebooks, scratched out ideas for speeches and doodled his thoughts and meditations on scraps of paper.

This unique archive, which was bequeathed to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2009 and subsequently became the focus of a worldwide bidding war, has now been published as a book.

Nelson Mandela. Getty

For this two-part documentary, the BBC's Fergal Keane journeys back through the landmark moments in Mandela's life and career, as well as reflecting on less known events.

There are surprises, painful reminders, and a real insight into the experiences which led to his daily disciplines, life lessons and to the moral and political vision which inspired - and continues to inspire - so many people around the world.

Please note due to rights restrictions there is no download available for this series.

Part One

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Listen to Mandela's reflections as an activist with the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1960s. We hear his voice at the moment he is told he will be sent to Robben Island.

On the island he often scratched mathematical calculations relating to his time in prison on pieces of paper - the years spent on the island (28) and his age when he was released (72). We hear drafts of letters - many which never got through - in which he lays out his vision as a political leader.

And we hear his voice in more personal moments, recalling dreams he has had about his wife and children during his years apart from them.

First broadcast on 15 October, 2010

Part Two

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Listen to diary excerpts written on the night of Mandela's release from Pollsmoor in February 1990, and hear drafts of his very early speeches as leader of the ANC.

There is a letter discussing the role of police in society, set down on notepaper emblazoned with the cartoon cat Garfield, which ends: 'Let's not leave this meeting showing it's a failure.'

We hear him chiding himself over a 'grave error of judgement' when he proposed lowering the voting age to 14. And we hear extracts from letters and diaries written during his years in retirement as he observes the ongoing political struggles of South Africa.

For broadcast on 22 October, 2010

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