The world marked the third anniversary since the passing of one of its icons on December 5 rather sombrely. He joined the ranks of historically cultic figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Marcus Garvey to mention but a few.
Before his death, Nelson Mandela remarked, “It would be egotistical of me to say how I would like to be remembered. I’d leave that entirely to South Africans. I would just like a simple stone on while is written, ‘Mandela’.” In hindsight, he must have been right.
Two weeks after this low-key date was marked, a typed letter signed by Muhammad Ali to Nelson Mandela in 1993, offering condolences on the death of Chris Hani, an anti-apartheid leader, sold for £7,200 (Sh913,896) at an auction in Devizes, England. Perhaps a testament to the value with which the world regards both now deceased icons.
South African journalist Jennifer Crwys-Williams compiled a collection of Mandela’s observations, thoughts, sayings lifted from various speeches, interviews and exchanges. The book In the Words of Nelson Mandela is brief, simple and easy to understand.
Arranged in a topical manner with context provided in italics below the quote, this book will sate your appetite rather quietly in your quest to understand South Africa’s former president’s mind during his life and times.
The book provides valuable insights to the temperament of the Xhosa revolutionary.
One of the most common speeches made by Nelson Mandela that ironically gained him international recognition titled ‘I Am Prepared to Die’ on April 20, 1964, as the defendant at the Rivonia Trial, expressing a willingness to be executed is also captured in the text. The three-hour speech is considered one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, and a key moment in the history of South African democracy.
Crwys-Williams is a celebrated South African journalist who not only interviewed the man born in Cape Province and buried in Qunu, but also made tea for him.
Mandela’s words humanise the revered and controversial icon. They show his passions, wisdom, humour and contain a depth to him that inspire the reader. On humanity Mandela is quoted as saying, “Deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity.” May we embody this kindness over this festive season. Happy reading and giving!