Mandela as you didn't know him. (Photo Feature: South Africa).
The Mandela story appears to have no end. And Luli Callinicos, one of South Africa's eminent historians, and author of this splendid coffee table book, has taken the story one notch up, using 1,000 images of the people and sites that Mandela met or passed through on his way to the presidency and "icon-dom".
Having herself been involved in the struggle for democracy in South Africa at an early age, Callinicos has used her unique insight to produce a really wonderful book. In her own words: This book is a tribute to, and celebration of, our society, its traditions, its values, its communities and its landscape which shaped a remarkable life -- the life of Nelson Mandela, who demonstrated to South Africa and the world how to draw on the strengths of his multi-layered culture, and emerge from a seemingly fearsome impasse to point towards the solution."
Walter Sisulo, one of Mandela's greatest colleagues, wrote the foreword. And this is what he said:
"This is a book which examines a landscape that for many decades was hidden from official view. Nowhere in the maps of apartheid South Africa could one find Bochabela in Mangaung (Bloemfontein), or Montsioa Stad in Mafikeng, or Galeshewe in Kimberley. Luli Callinicos has made some of these hidden places visible and relevant again by linking them to the life of one of our nation's most admired mentors, Nelson Mandela.
But this book goes further, it also vividly represents the rich and dynamic world that was the making of Nelson himself. In doing so, it pays tribute to the people of South Africa, to the liberation movement, and to the places which impacted so powerfully on his life.
The concept of the book reminds me strongly of a speech made in 1952 by Dr S.M. Molema, esteemed author and ANG national treasurer, to the Annual Conference of the South African Indian Congress. It was the year that white South Africa was celebrating the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck.
'Remember the salient, the dominant fact of South African history,' he said, 'that all the monuments, all the celebrations and all the feasts of the white man have a diametrically opposite meaning to the black man; because every monument of the white man perpetuates the memory of the annihilation of some black community, every celebration of victory the remembrance of our defeat, his every feast means our famine and his laughter our tears.
Such are the Great Trek celebrations and the Voortrekker Monument; such are Dingaan's Day and Union Day, and such are the approaching Van Riebeeck celebrations.
Molema was pointing towards the necessity of reclaiming the landscape to celebrate our history and our heritage -- that is, the heritage of all our people. It was a message which the Freedom Charter later reaffirmed; that the country belongs to all who live in it.
The World That Made Mandela, I believe, makes a valuable contribution towards the process of redressing the imbalances in our cultural landscape.
Every South African should read this book. And to our international readers, I suggest that The World That Made Madela offers a glimpse of a fundamental South African experience, communicated through our places, our people, our history.
And should this book encourage you to come and visit us, bear in mind that your physical presence at each site, besides stirring you with the power of its uniquely historical bearing, will also be a means of empowering the community itself."
It is a book worth having in every home. It is worth its weight in gold.
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|Title Annotation:||The World that Made Mandela -- A Heritage Trail of 70 Sites of Significance|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2002|
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