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Doing life with Mandela: My prisoner, my friend

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5 review for Doing life with Mandela: My prisoner, my friend

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marion Roux

    Not a literary masterpiece, but an interesting and important contribution to our history in South Africa. Christo Brand had been brought up in a non-racial home, had a multi-racial friend circle on a farm, had respect for his elders and entered the prison services as a naive young man. So this book is presented in a very straight-forward statement-like recording. Life on Robben Island was hard and treatment of the inmates was heartless in trying to demean the prisoners. Daily life was very much a Not a literary masterpiece, but an interesting and important contribution to our history in South Africa. Christo Brand had been brought up in a non-racial home, had a multi-racial friend circle on a farm, had respect for his elders and entered the prison services as a naive young man. So this book is presented in a very straight-forward statement-like recording. Life on Robben Island was hard and treatment of the inmates was heartless in trying to demean the prisoners. Daily life was very much a case of the same old... again. Some interesting facts such as during Mandela's whole 1st year on the island (1964) he was allowed 1 visit and 2 letters only. In 1965 he received 2 visits only and later (1980's) visits increased to 2 with 2 people per month. Winnie, his wife who was under house arrest, had to apply for her ban to be lifted on the day she was to visit Mandela. Because of the necessary ferry crossing from Cape Town to the Island, if the weather was inclement, visits were just cancelled. The National Party government's bullying and sadistic handling of the ANC political prisoners just bonded them more strongly together. Christo, himself, felt no reason to slyly make their lives more miserable and, in fact, envied their closeness. He endeavoured to treat them with humanity at all times. In the book, he briefly describes a number of the political prisoners he was responsible for and has remained in contact , as a good, loyal friend, with quite a number of them. Ahmed Kathrada, recalling his time in prison in a speech made in 1993, said " The real pleasure of prison life is one of great warmth, fellowship, friendship, humour and laughter, of strong convictions, of a generosity of spirit, of companionship, solidarity and care. It is a picture of continuous learning, of getting to know and live with your fellow beings - but more importantly where one comes to know one's self, one's weakness, inadequacy and potential. By reducing prison life to cold, impersonal statistics, one is blotting out the deep multi-dimensional experience, feelings and interests of a vibrant community". Time in Pollsmoor Prison and later Victor Verster, outside Paarl, is covered and Mandela's eventual release too. His election to the Presidency is related as regard to Brand's life and involvement. Recommended read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paige Friedlander

    Inspiring perspective from the inside walls of Nelson Mandela’s time in prison.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marize De Klerk

    This is a good read for every South African

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cassi Camara

  5. 5 out of 5

    ML Sheridan

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