Mandela kept a series of desk calendars on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor and Victor Verster prisons, which run from
1976 to 1989. Together with the notebooks, they are the most direct and unmediated records of his private thoughts
and everyday experiences. He did not make entries every day. In fact, there are sometimes weeks where he made none
at all, which explains some of the gaps in dates that appear in the selection in Conversations with Myself. Of the entries
that do exist, the most important and most interesting have been brought together in the book. Even though these
entries represent a small percentage of the total, the overall tenor of the calendars has not been altered substantially.
The inclusion of some entries may seem strange. It should be borne in mind, however, that taken-for-granted necessities
in the outside world were actually precious luxuries in prison. Milk for tea, for example, was an event. So, too, were visits
and letters. And the single word 'Raid' masks a deeper menace.