A handbook of Madiba’s wise words

2011-07-02 12:13

Words are how every idea is articulated, how we make ourselves heard and how we tell our stories.

Which probably explains why books of quotations are so ­popular – what starlets say, what great philosophers say or what any number of famous people said on their deathbeds.

For all South Africans, then, the must-have book of quotations is Nelson Mandela By ­Himself, a compilation of more than 2 000 quotes by our ­democracy’s best-loved founding father that spans 60 years of Madiba’s ­almost 93 years.

The quotes are arranged, as all books of quotations are, by category – and there are 300 of them.

Compiled by Sahm Venter and Sello Hatang from the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, ­Nelson Mandela By Himself is likely to be snapped up by ­everyone – for birthdays, to stash for Christmas and just to have – ­because we all care what our Madiba has to say about everything.

The subjects range from A to Z – from differences (“Our differences are our strength as a species and as a world community”) and ego (“A blind pursuit of cheap popularity has nothing to do with revolution”), to media (“It is your duty to examine the conduct of public figures and to place them in the spotlight – that is your ­duty”), and even to thoughts about himself (“I sometimes ­believe that through me creation intended to give the world the ­example of a mediocre man in the proper sense of the word”).

The words in this 289-page book are drawn from so many diverse sources, it is a reminder of how Mandela has always used his words to move people to thought and then to action – from letters to loved ones and speeches at large gatherings, to words from Long Walk to Freedom, as well as diary entries and interviews in a variety of settings.

This book of quotations is yet another victory – not that one is needed – over those who silenced him between the time he was banned at the end of 1952 and when he was finally released from ­custody in 1990.

With the exception, of course, of his words at his trial in 1962.

Nelson Mandela By Himself is yet another book that extends the legacy of Madiba, which is a ­slam dunk when it comes to selling books and getting folks to read – always good things.

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