Almost everyone has taken a bite of Mandela

HAVING just completed Nelson Mandela's Conversations with Myself like I was preparing for an exam, a few ideas vied for competition in my big head.

For the purposes of this column, lets stick to just one of the thoughts.

People with a lot of time on their hands get into all manner of recreational and sometimes vocational pursuits, among which is the collection of a whole number of things.

People collect postage stamps and the beauty of language is that there's even a name for this pastime - philately.

Some fill their hours collecting bees, others skins and all sorts of creepy oddities you'd expect to find at the flea market of the mentally suspect.

Those who collect cars always leave me green with envy. The Green Eyed monster also forces me to appreciate those who are into numismatics.

A friend of mine, may his tormented soul rest in peace, collected women - fine young nubile things!

Conversations with Myself, sold as a book "encompassing never before seen diaries, personal notes, draft speeches and audio recordings" of the affable nonagenarian, is the latest literary presentation of, on and by the world's most famous political prisoner in history.

Just last week in Sandton a leading bank hosted the launch of The Children's Mandela, a compilation of 40000 answers to 25 questions posed to South African children about Madiba.

This glossy children's presentation joins other books penned for tomorrow's leaders among which is my favourite - Chris van Wyk's abridged version of Long Walk to Freedom.

I haven't conducted a survey but with more than 20 titles dedicated to prisoner number 466/64, he could easily be the only man in world history about whom so many books were written.

Everyone with ink in their veins has taken a bite of Mandela, from the pedantic like Tom Lodge and Adrian Hadland to the frivolous like Zapiro. The Nelson Mandela Foundation takes credit for Nelson Mandela: The Authorised Comic Book.

Martin Meredith, who has, like Heidi Holland, devoted his literary pursuits to chronicling the violent excesses of Robert Mugabe, has found time from his Bob-bashing to contribute to the body of literature on Mandela. His didn't expend too much energy and is simply titled Nelson Mandela.

David James Smith is in the news with another title, Young Mandela, which ruffled feathers a bit as it mentioned the genial anti-apartheid icon in the same sentence as woman abuse.

Peter Hain took word economy a step further with his book Mandela.

There are so many that if you started collecting them now, you could fill your home to the rafters with Madiba books, from the coffee table that you could stock with such titles as World That Made Mandela by the soft-spoken Luli Callinicos to veteran photographer Peter Magubane's pictorial tribute.

I don't remember what became of the idea by one British university that wanted to give a degree course on David Beckham. I suspect that, very soon, another institution of higher learning would offer a course on Mandela.

So there's a possibility here for a PhD unless, of course, it is your considered view that you'd rather be collecting Shrek movies.

  • This is a column, written by Don Makatile

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