Mandela's letters

Take a look at this excerpt, taken from Wikipedia:

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison.... Mandela describes how, as a D-group prisoner (the lowest classification) he was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months. Letters, when they came, were often delayed for long periods and made unreadable by the prison censors.

Wow, what a tough guy. Eighteen years and only two (obscured) letters allowed each year? Gee, that only means that he got 36 letters during those long stay in the prison!

The longest period of time I had spent without internet connection in the last five years was during my Sangihe stay last March, where internet connection was so rare that one had to look for them in governmental buildings.

An English teacher of mine in Singapore once told me how hard it was during those times before internet was invented. She studied in Oxford University while her boyfriend (who later became her future husband) stayed in Singapore. Each of them had to send all the letters to the other and wait for a month before a reply finally came (it took two weeks for a letter to travel continents, you see).

As a member of Gen Y (people born from 1981 to 1994), I am greatly thankful that I did not have to go thru all those waits that the previous generation (Gen X) had to go thru. Well, I used to send letters to my Dad in Jakarta when I lived in Richmond, but it did not last long as the internet era had finally reached most of the world's population in the 2000s.

Gen Z (people born from 1995 onwards) had it luckier, I think. They have no recollection of what it feels like to send letters (and stamp them). Which is why I would not be surprised if only a few of them are able to estimate how much stamp to stick to the envelope or operate cassette-players.

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