The unexpected path from ordinary citizen to civil rights leader is full of rocks, pot holes and an untold number of barriers. But with time, work and opening of minds and hearts, perhaps real change is possible.
The late Nelson Mandela is considered to be one of the most respected politicians and civil rights leaders of recent history. In the mid 90’s, he published his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.
Born in 1918 in South Africa, he grew up in a world where separation between the races and apartheid was the social, moral and legal law of the land. As an adult, he became a lawyer and slowly transitioned from ordinary citizen to civil rights leader. Along the way, he was accused of crimes by the authorities, his family was targeted and he spent decades in jail.
Along the way, Nelson Mandela’s legend grew far beyond his native land. As the first President of South Africa, he changed his nation and the world for the better.
I have one word to describe this book: wow. The problem with many autobiographies is that the writer can be very me me me. But in telling his life story from his perspective, Mr. Mandela reminds the reader of our common humanity and that the fight for human rights must continue until we are all free.
I recommend it.
Before Trevor Noah succeeded Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show, he was a biracial child growing up in apartheid era South Africa.
Last year, he published a memoir of his very unique childhood entitled Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Noah’s father, a white man of Swiss/German descent, was in his son’s life as much as the white father of a biracial child could be back then. His black mother, whose ancestry in South Africa went back generations, was his main parent. Loving, but strict (and perhaps a bit intense), she raised her son with a firm, but free-spirited hand. In the book, Noah talks about what it was like to grow in South Africa when the country was divided by very firm and enforceable social, racial and economic borders.
What I really loved about this book is that unlike other celebrity memoirs, it felt authentic. There was nothing forced or fake about his stories. It was as if he was sitting in front of me and we were having a conversation about his childhood. I also loved that there is a universal quality to this book when it comes to childhood, growing up and how our perceptions of us, our world and our parents change as we get older.
I absolutely recommend it.
Last night, I saw Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.
The late Nelson Mandela is an icon. Next to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Mandela, represents the change many wish they could enact in the world, but few are willing to take the steps to make it happen.
The movie starts with brief clips of his childhood. As an adult, Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) is a lawyer, trying to defend his clients in a country where the native blacks are second class and the whites have all of the power. He is initially hesitant to join the African National Congress, but circumstances change his mind. After he is charged with treason and thrown into jail for 27 years, his second wife, Winnie (Naomie Harris) is forced to raise their daughters by herself and deal with the constant assault by the police.
I will warn that the movie is long, it clocks in at 2 hours and 20 minutes. But the time is needed to tell this man’s story.
Elba completely transforms himself into Mandela. It’s as if he was born to play this character. Harris, as Winnie Mandela is also perfectly cast. Her transformation from being just an ordinary wife and mother to becoming a revolutionary in her own right is incredible. I wouldn’t be surprised, that when award season comes, the movie, as well as Elba and Harris receive numerous nominations and awards.
I highly recommend it.