Madiba ... the comic book hero

Nelson Mandela turns 90 on July 18. It's a birthday party the whole world wants to take part in.

Nelson Mandela turns 90 on July 18. It's a birthday party the whole world wants to take part in.

Celebrations are already under way, the most visible event being the recent 46664 concert in Hyde Park, London.

The stars came out in their numbers to honour the much-loved elder statesman.

To say Mandela is an international icon is an understatement. The whole world agrees he is the best role model the universe has been blessed with in decades.

As part of the birthday celebrations, all forms of books - from republished biographies to comic books - have been hitting the book shelves at regular intervals.

Nelson Mandela: The authorised comic book is the latest offering. And this is what his buddy Archbishop Desmond Tutu says about him on the cover: "Which other country has a moral colossus to match Nelson Mandela? We are the envy of every single nation on earth ..."

This is no exaggeration because the Mandela admiration society is a world phenomenon.

A joint project between the publisherand Nelson Mandela Foundation, the comic book brings to life the legend's life in a form that should appeal to younger readers.

It traces his life, from that famous village in the Eastern Cape, his political education, the infamous Rivonia Trial, his time as prisoner 46664; the negotiator and the first black president of South Africa.

Apart from his public life, it touches on his tragedies. How jail deprived him of being a father to his children; the death of his sons and comrades.

It's a comprehensive comic book, which should have a place of pride on any book shelf.

"Young people read comics. The hope is that the elementary reading of comics will lead them to the joy of reading good books. That joy has been mine all my life, and it is one I wish for all South Africans," says Mandela.