The critics on Young Mandela

The Sowetan – Sam Ditshego

Honest look at the real Madiba by Sam Ditshego.

Young Mandela is a breath of fresh air because unlike the other books about him, this one does not sing panegyrics of the man and shows that he is not a saint, but human and therefore fallible.

Though some people feel that the author was out to reveal negativities about Mandela, I think David James Smith treats Mandela with respect .

There is more to the book than about the way Mandela treated his first wife, Evelyn Mase, or that he was a ladies’ man. It chronicles his life in the liberation struggle. It also has invaluable information about South African politics, the formation of the ANCYL, the PAC, how the Freedom Charter was written and adopted and the ANC’s problem with African heads of state concerning the move-ment’ s multiracial nature .

Smith writes that the movement needed a martyr and that Mandela was used as a sacrificial lamb.

Mandela’s report after his 1962 African tour stated that “the PAC had started off with tremendous advantages ideologically and had skilfully exploited opposition to whites and partnerships.

“Sharpeville had boosted the PAC and the stand of their leaders during the trial and imprisonment of Robert Sobukwe fostered the impression that they were more militant than the ANC.”

The Special Branch found the report when they raided the ANC hide-out at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg, and was used as evidence in the Treason Trial. The book concludes with the 1964 trial and Mandela’s and his comrades sentencing.


Latest News

  • The Sleep Of Reason – The James Bulger Case by David James Smith:
    Faber Finds edition with new preface, available September 15th, 2011.

  • Young Mandela the movie – in development.

    From The Guardian
    Read the article

    In the Diary column of The Independent, April 13th, 2011

    More on my previously unsubstantiated claim that the writer-director Peter Kosminsky, creator of The Promise, is working on a drama about Nelson Mandela. I’ve now learnt that the project is a feature film, in development with Film 4, about the young Mandela. Kosminsky is currently at work on the script and, given the complaints about the anti-Jewish bias of The Promise, it is unlikely to be a standard bland portrait of the former South African president.

Latest Review

    New York Times – J. M. Ledgard
  • Nelson Mandela was circumcised as a 16-year-old boy alongside a flowing river in the Eastern Cape. The ceremony was similar to those of other Bantu peoples. An elder moved through the line making ring-like cuts, and foreskins fell away. The boys could not so much as blink; it was a rite of passage that took you beyond pain. read full review

See David James Smith…

Jon Venables: What Went Wrong
BBC 1, 10.35
Thursday, April 21st, 2011