‘With no amulet to protect him’
A South African response to Jack Mapanje
in Incarceration and human rights
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There is a story about Nelson Mandela, one that his biographers skate over hastily and without enthusiasm, for it has about it an air of awkwardness. Shortly after his release from prison in 1990, Mandela commissioned a house to be built for himself in Qunu, the Transkei village of his childhood. The architect was to approach the Department of Prisons, Mandela instructed, and acquire the architectural plans of a cottage situated in the grounds of Viktor Verster prison in Paarl. Jack Mapanje's release from a Malawian jail in 1991 was incomparable to Mandela's in so many ways. Mandela's home country embraced him as a living god. Mapanje's exiled him. Mandela became president of a feted liberation movement and then of South Africa. Mandela fashioned the place of his incarceration into the home he imagined would shelter him in his old age.

Incarceration and human rights

The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2007

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