The Mandela family commemorated birthdays whenever possible, and wedding anniversaries almost without exception, in prison during official visits. The occasions were, in addition, observed with cards and letters.

Nelson recalls his and Winnie's wedding day in the following extract:

Nelson and Winnie Mandela at their wedding in 1957. © A copy of Alf Kumalo’s photograph

I remember 14 June nostalgically. In spite of the difficult times, we went to the altar. The treason trial, confined to Johannesburg, the debts that were piling up, the inability to honour obligations, on occasions remaining in the background when she had every right to share the limelight: all these things shock me as nothing else has ever done before. That was our cross which I hope we carried reasonably well. I spent a lot of time on this day thinking of you. Every time I do, I literally glow and long to embrace you and feel the electric shocks that your flesh rubs onto me, your navel and heartbeat. Three years from now we celebrate our Silver Jubilee where and how? Till we meet again.

29 June 1980

His mind rests on times past; of relations who have died, of things he ought to have done and did not:

Dear Sister, Today we have been together for nineteen years. Many things have happened in that time. C. K. Nozipho, Phyllis, Tshawuza Ntwasa and Makhulu who were at our wedding are all gone. So is Ma who welcomed you as a bride to our new home and Thembi, whom you loved as your own child. May they all rest in peace. I remembered you with a real feast on 26 September [Winnie's birthday]. I put four teaspoons of Nespray powdered milk in a mug, 3 teaspoons of Milo, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar and buried the whole mixture in hot water. It was a magnificent brew fit for a monarch.

1 October 1975

I wish I could drive you on a long, long journey just as I did on 12/6/58, with the one difference that this time I'd prefer us to be alone. I've been away from you for so long that the very first thing I would like to do on my return would be to take you away from that suffocating atmosphere, drive you along carefully, so that you could have the opportunity of breathing fresh and clean air, seeing the beauty spots of South Africa, its green grass and trees, colourful wild flowers, sparkling streams, animals grazing in the open veld and be able to talk to the simple people we meet along the road. Our first stop would be to the place where Ma Rhadebe and CK [Winnie's parents] sleep. I hope they lie next to each other. Then I would be able to pay my respect to those who have made it possible for me to be as happy and free as I am now. Perhaps the stories I've so much wanted to tell you all these years would begin there. The atmosphere should probably sharpen your ears and restrain me to concentrate on those aspects which are tasty, edifying and constructive. Thereafter, we would adjourn and resume next to Mphakanyiswa and Nosekeni [Nelson's parents] where the environment would be similar. I believe we would then be fresh and solid as we drive back to 8115.

29 June 1976