Mandela's Nurse

Monday, 26 September, 2022 - 16:00

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This chapter from a creative nonfiction book in progress tells a story of Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison nurse in her own words. Mrs. N.Z. was the first sister of rank hired to administer care to prisoners there, including Mr. Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Ahmed Kathrada, her career with the Department of Correctional Services spanning the early 1970s to the early 1990s. She is not mentioned in any of these famous men’s autobiographies or other historical accounts. Here we meet her in the last stage of her professional career, that of head nurse in an old age home in small-town Mpumalanga. Based on several years of ethnography at the home and written in dialogical form, this chapter and overall book aim to dwell in contradictions of memory and foreground how facing aging and end-of- life reshapes articulations of racial violence.

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