After long holidays I am coming back to my book blog. One of my destinations this year was Johannesburg in South Africa. It was an amazing trip! I have never learnt so much about history and politics during such a short period of time!
Unfortunately, I brought only three books from Johannesburg. The schedule was very tight and I did not have enough time for “book hunt”.
I could not leave Johannesburg without Mandela’s biography
The first book I bought was Mandela: The Authorized Biography (1999) by Antony Sampson. I bought this book in Exclusive Books in Rosebank. Exclusive Books is a charming bookstore where you can find various studies of African history, a lot of novels written by local authors and you can enjoy delicious coffee. I arrived to Johannesburg with the plan to buy Mandela’s biography and I wouldn’t leave the country without the book! I am currently reading it and I can already tell you that it is a must read book for those interested in both details of Mandela’s life and history of South Africa in general. The author knew Mandela since 1950s and was given complete access to letters from prison and all personal papers of Mandela. He also interviewed Mandela’s friends and associates. The author discusses aspects of apartheid system that you won’t find in most of the books on apartheid. I must admit that it takes me a lot of time to finish this book. I need to be in mood to read it, to absorb and process all information. I do not want to miss anything, I want to live the story. Note that the book was published in 1999, therefore it does not cover whole life of Nelson Mandela.
From women’s perspective
The Apartheid Museum is one of the most outstanding places I have ever visited in my entire life! The information I was exposed to was so extensive that I was unable to absorb everything during one day! After long walk around the Museum, I visited a store with souvenirs. Despite variety of available books, one book caught my attention: The Cry of Winnie Mandela (2004) by Njabulo S. Ndebele. After watching videos and reading all information in the Museum, I started to wonder how was it to be a wife of political and social icon imprisoned for 26 years. What sacrifices Winnie and other women made in order to survive? We always read stories of male leaders and admire them for their courage and strengths. In many cases women are simply forgotten. The author combines facts and fiction and talks about real women who were awaiting for the return of their husband. As he puts it, the awaiting is a pillar of life of South African women. I bought this book because Njabulo S. Ndebele is a local author and I believe he has the best knowledge about life in South Africa. Besides, I love the cover!!
And a bit of adventure
The third and the last book brought from Johannesburg is Elephant Song by Wilbur Smith. I found this book in souvenir store in Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto. The Elephant Song has nothing to do with South Africa political and social history though. This adventure book is located in Zimbabwe where Daniel Armstrong, a wildlife TV presenter, takes revenge on those who killed his friends. Politics, wildlife exploitation and English occupancy of the African continent. In other words, historical fiction combined with African adventure. The book was published more than 20 years ago but it still gets positive reviews.
Have you read any of these books? What do you think about them?