The Children’s Mandela: A Tribute to Nelson Mandela from the Children of South Africa

| October 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

Author: Tyne Doyle
Publisher: Future by Design
ISBN: 978-0-620-48612-5
Title: Nelson Mandela by Himself
Edited by: Sello Hatang and Sahm Venter
Publisher: Macmillan in association with PQ Blackwell
ISBN: 978-1-77010-141-8 Reviewed by Fiona de Villiers

As we celebrate the 93rd birthday of the world’s bestloved statesman, in our heartof- hearts we all know that Nelson Mandela cannot live forever. While nothing can replace the man himself, it’s somewhat comforting to see that authors and publishers are doing their bit to preserve his life story and extraordinary legacy for future generations. In the case of the two books mentioned in this review, these will be children who will never hear the distinctive, measured, gravelly voice, see the trademark dignified dance steps, or revel in the broad smile.

Lavish, full-colour tribute

Yet they can still grasp the measure of the man by paging through The Children’s Mandela – a lavish, fullcolour, 245-page book sponsored by Nedbank. A simple concept reaches a new elevation between these covers; author Tyne Doyle spent a decade gathering ‘from the mouths of babes’ an impressive collection of observations about Madiba from his favourite constituents. Nondyebo, aged nine, exhorts the one-time President to “…rest, because your knees are sore”, and Jennifer, aged 12, confides that she learned from the great man that “being a racist is gross”.

Nolwazi, when asked what she thinks makes Madiba angry, had the following answer, profound for a 10-year-old: “I think that all the teachers that don’t teach but just sit behind smart-looking desks doing nothing make Mr Mandela angry, because the children are learning nothing and the nation is going down the drain…”

Madiba’s words

Without any of the colourful, child-authored drawings that also form part of the previous collection, Nelson Mandela by Himself is an altogether simpler affair in terms of presentation. A small book that could make an ideal travel companion, this brand new release is, say the publishers, “the definitive book of quotations… gathered from privileged authorised access to Mandela’s vast personal archive of private papers, speeches, correspondence and audio recordings.”

Food for thought

I opened the book at random, and found myself in the section themed ‘Legacy’. I must confess to a chill running down my spine as I compared the following quote, extracted from a 1989 letter to Franklin Sonn, written in Victor Verster prison, to the somewhat parlous – in my opinion – state of the nation as depicted in the Sunday papers: “Nothing brings more pride and satisfaction to the old guard than to know that the ideas for which they have sacrificed so much are coming to fruition at last.” These two books will undoubtedly be eternally useful to school debating teams; but it’s worthwhile for language and social science teachers to incorporate them wholly into lessons wherever possible.

Category: Book Reviews, Spring 2011

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