New book spotlights Mandela

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) – A new book, The M-eaning of Mandela: A Literary and Intellectual Celebration, will be launched Wednesday (12 July) at the Nelson Mandela Foundation to coincide with the weeklong celebrations of Mandela's birthday.
The book is a collection of the speeches delivered at a remarkable series of lectures held to coincide with Nelson Mandela's 87th birthday in 2005.
Organised by Xolela Mangcu under the auspices of the Society, Culture and Identity Research Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the lectures featured three of the world's most prominent thinkers.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says in his foreword to the book: "Nelson Mandela stands out as a global icon for peace, love and reconciliation and magnanimity.
(and) we should understand more the historical forces and social values that shaped and influenced his leadership.
" "Henry Louis Gates Jr, Cornel West and Wole Soyinka are internationally-acclaimed intellectual powerhouses.
To get only one of them would have been a source of satisfaction on its own.
To get them to share a platform is indeed a remarkable feat," said Mangcu.
'The Meaning of Mandela' was inspired by the concern that while Mandela has been celebrated by almost every institution possible - universities, the entertainment world, the sporting circuit - there has been very little systematic scholarship on such a towering figure of the 20th-century political landscape.
Mangcu and his HSRC colleagues had previously organised a lecture series titled 'Identity, Africa and the World'.
They followed this up with a series focusing on Mandela's unique contribution to the world.
The further decision to publish the lectures was motivated by the desire to see more scholarly reflection on Mandela's legacy.
Mangcu's ultimately successful attempt to draw all three intellectuals together at the same time and place forms an amusing introduction to the anthology.
"There is no doubt that a mixture of boldness and serendipity won the day! The lectures themselves each deal with different aspects of the Mandela legacy, through broad and not necessarily literal interpretations," he added.
Author and intellectual Wole Soyinka, the first African writer to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, ponders on matters cultural in his contribution.
The first half of his lecture consists of a meditation he calls 'Views from a palette of the cultural rainbow', while the second part draws on a chapter from his recently-released memoirs, in which he describes an unusual dinner party with Mandela and friends.
All three writers approach the theme from distinctive angles.

11 july 2006 12:21:00

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