Beginning the 26th of December, a globe-spanning group of millions of people of African descent will celebrate Kwanzaa, the seven-day festival of communitarian values created by scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966. The name of the festival is adapted from a Swahili phrase that refers to “the first fruits,” and is meant to recall ancient African harvest celebrations.
Here we celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. From his early days as an activist, to his trial and imprisonment, to his presidency, this reading list covers all aspects of his life, and looks beyond the work he did to see how he influenced South Africa and the world.
By Justin Willis
Like many large and diverse countries, Kenya has long debated the value of introducing a form of devolved government. That debate seems to have come full circle. The majimbo, ‘regional’, constitution of 1963 was intended to devolve authority away from the centre. It lasted less than a year.
By Julian Barling
Retrospectively understanding the leadership of anyone who has achieved iconic status is made difficult because we ascribe to them our own needs, dreams and fears. When we try and understand the leadership of Nelson Mandela, it’s natural to think that leadership must be something you are born to do. As but one example, organizational scholar Rosabeth Moss Kanter observed that “There are very few people in the world who could have done what he did.
By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
Once or twice in a generation a global champion for social justice emerges. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mahatma Gandhi. Nelson Mandela.
How does one begin to describe Nelson Mandela? As a leader that fought for civil rights, freedom, equality, socioeconomic development, health awareness, and peace in South Africa. A true revolutionary. One who fought for what he believed was right, despite the consequences. One whose purpose was far greater than his fears. One who sacrificed his freedom for a cause much bigger than himself. One whose actions were so great that the world now mourns the loss of a true global ambassador of peace and progressive change.
By Yogan Pillay
Our late former President Mandela has passed on but his legacy will live on and should live on for generations to come. He inspired millions across the world to do good, to forgive, to work for the common good. This also inspired me – from my youth in university when he was in prison and as a government official since he became the President of our country and today as we mourn his passing.
By Elleke Boehmer
The name Nelson Mandela and the word icon are once again on people’s lips, as if spoken in the same breath.
By Kenneth S. Broun
Nelson Mandela began his 27-year prison term in 1962, when he was convicted of illegally leaving the country and inciting workers to strike. He was brought back from his Robben Island imprisonment to face far more serious charges in 1963 under South Africa’s Sabotage Act.
By Leslie Asako Gladsjo
This fall, my colleagues and I completed work on Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s documentary series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which began airing on national PBS in October. In six one-hour episodes, the series traces the history of the African American people, from the 16th century to today.
By Sarah Thomson
In 2012, 45 US states, as well as the District of Columbia, adopted and began implementing the new Common Core State Standards in K-12 public schools. In history and social studies classes, the Common Core Standards emphasize critical thinking and analytical reading and writing skills.
By Tim Allen
Albert Camus, author of those high school World Literature course staples The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, would have been 100 years old today.
By Sonia Tsuruoka
Not much remains to be said about the politics of the written word: scores of historical biographers have examined the literary appetites of revolutionaries, and how what they read determined how they interpreted the world. Mohandas Gandhi read Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience during his two-month incarceration in South Africa.
By Jean Allain
Today is International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, established by UNESCO “to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of peoples”. That tragedy was the development of, in Robin Blackburn’s words, a “different species of slavery”. One that took the artisan slavery of old (consisting in the main of handfuls of slaves working on small estates or as domestic servants) and industrialised it, creating plantations in the Americas which fed the near insatiable appetite of Europeans for sugar, coffee, and tobacco.
I would love to visit Africa someday. I think it would settle a lot of curiosity I have about the world. For now, my most informed experience regarding the place is a seminar I took this past semester, called Sacred and Secular African American Musics.
Not long before Barack Obama was first elected President of the United States, in October 2008, the African American novelist Alice Walker commented that the then still Senator Obama, as the leader in waiting of the most powerful nation on earth, might be regarded as a worthy successor to the towering figure of Mandela. She discerned within the American leader’s authoritative and crusading self-presentation the template of Robben Island’s most famous one-time resident.