By Hilary Diack
Long Walk to Freedom
The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Publisher – Back Bay Books/ Little Brown and Company
I haven’t seen the movie, I rarely view a film of an autobiography I have enjoyed reading. Somehow, no matter how skilled the transferral of typed word to screen, your intimate immersion into the life of the author becomes lost. Long Walk to Freedom became one of those books for me.
When a life as monumental as Nelson Mandela’s is recorded, with memories, emotions, passions and challenges laid bare for all to see, you have a story to savour. Starting from his early years in the Transkei countryside, to his battles to establish a career as a lawyer in Johannesburg, on to his incarceration on Robben Island, then his eventual role in leading his country, the reader gradually comes to understand the intense drive that gave Mandela the strength to survive and inspire others.
It is an epic read, giving not only insight into the life of an outstanding human being, but also a pivotal period in the development of a nation.
A History of 50 Years of Independence
By Martin Meredith
Published by Free Press
The years when African nations gradually and often painfully unshackled themselves from colonial rule have been meticulously researched and recorded in this excellent book by journalist, biographer and historian Martin Meredith. Covering the continent from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Cape of Good Hope, it delves into the history of countries as diverse as Egypt and Congo, Chad and South Africa.
First published in 2005, it garnered impressive reviews in the press, and to date still stands as an important work on the first shaky steps many African countries made on the road to their independence. It is a fascinating narrative, and along with a well-presented overview of the political machinations, there are vignettes of eccentricities and abuses of position that paint a vivid portrait of the characters involved.
This is a must read for anyone seeking insight into the complex and constantly evolving enigma of what had been known as the ‘dark’ continent.