Grandad Mandela is a quick, witty, insightful read with illustrations that depict the life of President Nelson Mandela and the family that supported him throughout his 27 years of imprisonment. A picture is truly worth a thousand words! In this context, President Mandela’s photos unfolded his life in a very simplified chronicle – growing up in the rural areas of Transkei; marrying his wife who also came from a royal family. Both families complemented each other in strength and resilience. Grandma Zindzi talks about how she and her sister, Zeni grew up in a single-family household in the township of SOWETO. Their mother, Winnie Mandela, single-handedly brought them up while she too, fought for justice. Zindzi and her sister spent most of their formative years in another small, southern African country, where they attended boarding school to avoid police harassment.
The narrative responds to important questions regarding growing up under segregation where the authoritative government punished anyone who defied the rigid laws of apartheid. Most family members who fought for peace and justice (regardless of color), were jailed, tortured or killed. For example, Grandma Zindzi was only eighteen months old when her father was incarcerated. The story also shows how faith sustained the Mandela family – celebrating each of his birthdays without him. The sadness (as understood by grandkids) of growing up under apartheid highlights the spirit of “Ubuntu” that grandad Mandela fought all these years to see it through when he became the first black President of South Africa. Ubuntu speaks of humanity and connectedness – a guiding principle in the way people should be treated. Not only did Mandela discuss the future of South Africa with his oppressors, but he made sure the democratic election in 1994 formed the Rainbow nation — embracing all races and all ethnic groups!
Reviewed by Fatima Barnes, EDD, MPH, MSIS, MBA, Howard University, Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library
Published in Africa Access Review (January 11, 2019)
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