TRIBUTE TO GREAT WOMEN

MOTHERS and grandmothers are associated with nurturing, love and compassion. The matriarchs described in Marion Keim's compilation are no different.

MOTHERS and grandmothers are associated with nurturing, love and compassion. The matriarchs described in Marion Keim's compilation are no different.

Forty prominent South Africans - politicians, renowned authors, businesspeople, sport stars, and musicians - pay tribute to the women who influenced their lives.

The tributes are heart-warming and sometimes funny but without being sentimental.

The book gives fascinating glimpses of some of the women who shaped the futures of some of the country's most celebrated figures.

The late Helen Suzman, for instance, acknowledges three women - including a nun at a convent school and her professor at university - who inspired her "political allegiance to liberal democracy" following the passing of her mother, who died giving birth to her.

Though the women come from different backgrounds and circumstances, almost all displayed independence, tenacity and unwavering dedication to their children and families.

These are some of the traits that their children admired and which will resonate with many readers.

Though each of the contributors writes about special relationships with the women in their lives, you are bound to pick up a lot of yourself in how soccer legend Lucas Radebe's mother always placed education above her son's football career: "What about education?" she used to ask.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka's story is also one that's too familiar in African communities - a single mother raising her children. But she makes it hers.

Umama is a warm, compassionate and delightful gem that can be appreciated by children, parents and the most hardened members of society.

It would also make a thoughtful and inspiring gift.

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