Letters, biographies and illustrated storybooks that give insights into South Africa’s first Black president
Stone walls did not a prison make for the indomitable spirit of Nelson Rohlilahla Mandela (1918-2013) when he was incarcerated by the all-white rulers of South Africa for his fearless stand against racism and apartheid.
After 27 years behind bars, Mandela was released in 1990. He went on to become the first Black president of South Africa in 1994. By then his name had become synonymous with the fight against racism around the world.
Mandela’s birth anniversary on July 18 is celebrated as Nelson Mandela Day—an annual reminder to never lose hope in the struggle against social evils like racial discrimination and inequality.
Here are 8 books you can read for insights into this revolutionary’s life and contribution:
This book gives a vivid idea of the historical background and tradition of the African people. The writing instils a feeling of compassion in the reader, and inspires one to fight for justice and eliminate racial discrimination that has claimed so many innocent African lives. Mandela has also shared his struggles and his journey towards becoming a freedom fighter.
Carlin writes about the Rugby World Cup 1995 final held in South Africa. This match is etched in the hearts of Africans as it was Nelson Mandela who had hosted the event. Mandela has been portrayed as a master politician who successfully made peace with his allies during the match. His charismatic personality helped replace anger, hatred and terror with compassion and love.
This book revolves around the 27 years that Mandela spent behind bars after being arrested in 1962. During imprisonment, he wrote hundreds of letters to his fellow activists, prison authorities and his wife. Despite the many difficulties, Mandela’s spirit remained unbeatable. The letters are an important source for those who want to learn more about apartheid.
This is a collection of Mandela’s electrifying speeches which inspired thousands of people to fight for their rights. The reader gets to know about Mandela’s oratory skills, and his efforts to bring about social and political changes in South Africa.
Told from the perspective of Mandela’s great-grandchildren, Zazi and Ziwelene, this book is a great read for kids and teens. Through their conversation with Zindzi Mandela, the former President’s daughter, one gets a glimpse of his political struggles as well as personal life that inevitably got drawn into it. The book is brilliantly illustrated by Sean Qualls with mixed media.
This is part of the Little Guide to Great Lives book series that gives a biographical account of influential lives such as Mandela’s in a format that is easily comprehensible by young readers. It captures Mandela’s journey from birth to the top ranks of political power in lucid language and engaging illustrations.
Poetic wording accompanied with stunning illustrations makes this Niki Daly book a very interesting read. Mandela’s early life, starting from the village where he was born, has been fictionalised to present it as a story rather than a fact file. It brings out the importance of childhood ambitions and the source of Mandela’s humility and simplicity.
If you want to delve into the raw and original accounts of Mandela’s career, get this book. It is a collection of interviews, photographs and archived material that is difficult to get a hold of. It contains statements given by some of his near and dear ones as well as his peers in the political sphere, backed by letters, images and other written records that document this historical figure’s life.
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