Titled “Dare Not Linger”, the book tells of Mandela’s five years as president after the end of apartheid and the first multi-race elections in South Africa in 1994.
“Long Walk to Freedom”, released shortly after the election, was a global phenomenon, selling more than 14 million copies, and was turned into a film starring Idris Elba.
Mandela wrote 10 chapters of his follow-up memoir on loose paper and in files between 1998 and 2002, when he stopped working on it due to his age and hectic schedule.
Mandla Langa completed the book using fresh interviews and research, as well as Mandela’s own notes from when he was president.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which hosted the book’s launch on Tuesday in Johannesburg, described the project as a “50/50” collaboration between Mandela and Langa.
The book’s title is taken from the final sentence of Mandela’s first autobiography, when he wrote that “with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended”.
– Co-author’s ‘trepidation’ –
Mandela’s widow Graca Machel wrote in a prologue to the new book that he had struggled to complete it because of the “demands the world placed on him, distractions of many kinds and his advancing years”.
“Through the last years of his life he talked about it often — worried about work started but not finished,” she said.
Mandela served one term as South Africa’s president before stepping down in 1999. He retired from public life in 2004 and died in 2013 aged 95.
Co-author Langa, 67, was a fellow activist against white-minority rule who joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944, the same year as Mandela.
Best known as a novelist and poet, he said at the book’s launch that he took on the task “with a sense of gratitude and humility and, at the same time, trepidation”.
“The analogy I use is that a melody can be enriched by introduction of instruments, of other voices — not to take away the essence of that melody but to celebrate it and enhance it,” he said.
With modern South Africa facing political scandals, sharp inequality and racial tension, Langa said he hoped the book would “help us to remember ourselves as South Africans when we held the moral high ground.”
– ‘Hands-on leader’ –
The years covered by the volume include the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into apartheid crimes, Mandela’s globe-trotting diplomacy, his divorce from Winnie Mandela in 1996 and marriage to Machel in 1998.
It may also address his deep regret over his failure to tackle the country’s AIDS crisis and his much-criticised choice of Thabo Mbeki as his successor as president.
Verne Harris, of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said the book would “fundamentally shift perceptions” about the anti-apartheid hero’s time in power.
“What emerges is… a hands-on leader who, in relation to aspects of his government such as the security establishment, was a bit of a micromanager,” Harris said.
“He was a politician’s politician; he knew how to get the best out of people.”
Publisher Pan Macmillan described it as “a vivid and inspirational account of Mandela’s presidency, a country in flux and the creation of a new democracy”.
“Long Walk to Freedom” tells of Mandela’s rural childhood, his youthful activism, his 1964 trial, his imprisonment on Robben Island before his release from jail in 1990, and his election victory.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said at the time that the book told how “justice, freedom, goodness and love have prevailed spectacularly in South Africa and one man has embodied that struggle.”