Feed your mind with good books

2019-08-14 06:00
Trevor Mokeyane - Social Observer

Trevor Mokeyane - Social Observer

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Feed your mind with books as you would your belly with healthy food.

Read, write. Read, write. Read, write.

What book(s) have you read lately? Before you can write, I strongly believe that you should read good books.

There was a time during the late 1970s when we as high school friends fed our curious minds with books in the African Writers Series (AWS).

We would walk from a high school in Batho Location and visit the Mmulakgoro Library to consume books. We fed our minds by reading a variety of different books.

These were books written by authors such as Chinua Achebe, a late Nigerian novelist, poet and professor, Ayi Kwei Armah, a Ghanaian writer, and Langa Peteni, a South African.

In case you are wondering about the AWS 6, it is the sixth book in the African Writers Series titled Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams. It is described as the first modern novel by a black South African.

Coincidentally, Abrahams was born on March 3, 1919 in Johannesburg, and this year is the centenary of his birth.

“One by one the lights of Malay Camp were turned out. One by one the lights of Vrededorp and other dark places of Johannesburg, of South Africa, were turned out.

“The streets were empty. The leaning, tired houses were quiet. Only shadows moved everywhere. Only the quiet hum of the night hung over the city. Over Vrededorp, Over Malay Camp.”

During those times, books like No Easy Walk to Freedom (AWS 123), which is a collection of Nelson Mandela’s writings and speeches, were not in circulation in South Africa because they were banned or censored. Some, however, got their hands on such banned books through other means.

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain tops of our desires.”

I Write What I Like (AWS 217) by Steve Biko was published in 1979 after his gruesome death in police custody.

The writings of Frank Talk, a pseudonym he used, were also banned.

This is to highlight just three of the writing stalwarts during this year’s celebration of Mandela Month.

One thing which stands out is the way these books commanded – and still command – international attention.

The authors were obviously voracious readers, and that is the logical starting point for you as you begin or continue to chronicle your life’s journey.

When one looks at the size and detail of Long Walk To Freedom, one realises the order of the man who wrote in minute detail his life’s story. It is his(story).

What are you reading?

What are you writing?

As Nadine Gordimer wrote, “Writers must write what they want to write about.”

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Steve Biko wrote: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

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