Drawing on the Mandela file in the Wits University Archives covering all aspects of his relationship with Wits, and on Mandela's prison correspondence, this article rotates around a remarkable story of persistence in the face of adversity and repeated failure – the story of Nelson Mandela's 46-year long pursuit of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. In 1943 he first enrolled as a part-time law student at Wits University and finally graduated with an LLB through the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 1989, a year before his release from prison. Fresh light is thrown on the Wits University Mandela dealt with, and on the obstacles placed in the way of his prison studies. Throughout there is a focus on Mandela and Wits – the university's impact on him as a student, his attempts to complete his Wits LLB while on Robben Island, his candidacy from prison for the Wits chancellorship, and, as president, his remarkable reunion with the law class of 1946.
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