There were sandwiches and cakes, balloons and celebrations as the Mandela family led us in storytelling and reflection about Nelson Mandela’s life and hardships, eventually securing the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994.
Zindzi Mandela, who is currently serving as her country’s ambassador to Denmark is the youngest daughter of Nelson and Winnie. She wanted to write a book so children could understand on their own terms about her father Nelson Mandela.
Grandad Mandela is written by Zindzi and two of her grandchildren, Zazi and Ziwelene, illustrated by Sean Qualls and published by Lincoln Children’s Books.
Zindzi had grown up in Soweto and when she was 18 months old her father, Nelson was sent to prison, and her mother, Winnie, was banished to the Free State, taking Zindzi with her. There was no schooling and she only had chance to finish her education when she was sent to Swaziland. In 1985 she gained a BA in Law at the University of Cape Town, In February 1985, she had read out Nelson’s refusal for a conditional release from prison by P.W.Botha.
Zindzi also accompanied her father at his inauguration as President and was First Lady following Winnie and Nelson’s divorce.
An incredible woman, she has a special place in history during those turbulent and impossible times in South Africa. Unbelievable now, that apartheid could have ever happened, working in a multi-cultural city like London…there is so much we take for granted.
Zindzi spoke about the need to write this book so children can discover on their own terms about apartheid and the struggle to overcome it. She said children should get answers to the questions they have. The work of Nelson Mandela in ending apartheid is now legendary and his strength and stalwartness in the pursuit of peace and forgiveness should be shared across the world.
“For many years as black South Africans we were not allowed to have a voice, but now we have a voice. And we won’t stop talking! And we won’t stop writing!”
The video below gives some of the words from Zindzi.
Thembi Tambo, the High Commissioner for South Africa in London, welcomed the family and explained that Zindzi had gone through a difficult childhood when Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years.
Thembi Tambo explained also about the life experiences of Zindzi and how she has must have hidden away any anger and fears, remaining strong in her belief and in continuing her work. She said it was difficult to imagine a better way in which to allow children to access the information than through this book. “There are many stories but some are just too hard to share”.
The Mandela Legacy organisation helped in the promotion of the book, and in organising this event, to support those who wish to have a voice and create a platform for sustainable development.
The children helped to read Grandad Mandela and were also asked some questions about human rights. One of the answers was, “You can’t judge children by how we look and feel. We are all fine just as we are”.
A stunning answer from an eight year old. The book Grandad Mandela, the work of Nelson Mandela and now his family shows what can happen to make changes for the better and the enormous courage and work needed to make it happen.
Sue Martin, FRSA
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