Books to Introduce Mandela and South Africa

As I wrote yesterday, missionaries need to learn more about the history of their host culture. Here are some books for different age levels to introduce Nelson Mandela or South Africa in general. Most of these I have not read yet but am planning to get around to one of these days. One more disclaimer–many books on Africa I know of for children are more for Africa in general or specifically on Kenya.

I keep editing this post as I find more resources, so please let me know if I missed any.

mandela picFor lower elementary here are some options I have found:

This week, we are reading the two excerpts on apartheid and Mandela from Story of the World volume 4. The section on Mandela is the very last section of this history text; an earlier section explains apartheid.

Bongani’s Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a South African City by Gisele Wulfoshn is a good introduction to apartheid for younger readers.

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom edited by Christ van Wyk is an elementary version of the adult autobiography listed below.

Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman by Floyd Cooper.

The Release of Nelson Mandela (Days of Change series) by Kate Riggs. The vocabulary and some of the subject matter is very difficult, but there are lots of pictures. I summarize and leave out some details, and it will probably take the week to get through it. I only include this one because I happen to have it (found at a library sale in America); I don’t know of others for this age level. In fact, Amazon says it’s for ages 12 and up. The DK biography on Nelson Mandela might be easier.

On Africa in general:

Owen & Mzee by Hatkoff and Kahumbu. Also an African folktale, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. When Africa Was Home by Karen Williams is about an American child who is born in Africa and feels more at home there than in America.

For upper elementary:

Journey to Jo’burg by Beverley Naidoo. This fictional story shows some of the unfair treatment of non-whites under apartheid. Chain of Fire is the sequel as the SA government relocates Naledi’s family to the “homeland.” Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope by the same author gives different stories of apartheid.

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom by Mandela. This is an abridged version 160 pages long.

Nelson Mandela. This is a shorter biography in the They Fought for Freedom series.

Nelson Mandela and Apartheid in World History by Ann Gaines talks about Mandela but also South Africa in general and how apartheid affected it.

South Africa by Garrett Nagle includes many different sections for study, including geography, politics, economy, and history.

The End of Apartheid: A New South Africa by Richard Tames.

No More Strangers Now by Tim McKee. Teenagers talk about apartheid and the changes afterwards. This one is probably more applicable for the middle grades.

For high school and adults:

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton is a modern classic novel required on some high school reading lists. It portrays South Africa in the ’40s when the times were changing and racial tensions were high.

The Covenant by James Michener is a long, detailed novel–over 1200-page epic on South Africa for really serious students of South Africa! I haven’t read this one but own it and plan to; so I can’t vouch for how clean it is.

Long Walk to Freedom is Mandela’s autobiography that I should read someday.

And one on religion that we stumbled across: The Church Struggle in South Africa by John W. de Gruchy (foreword is by Alan Paton).

Of course, if you can find a good biography on Robert Moffat, the father-in-law of David Livingstone, he was one of the first and most notable missionaries to South Africa, who labored to translate the entire Bible into the Tswana language.

About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and homeschooling mother of five children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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9 Responses to Books to Introduce Mandela and South Africa

  1. Thanks for pulling together these books! What a great resource!

  2. Love all the resources you find! You are such a great teacher!

  3. Kristi says:

    Great resources, my kids have been asking and wanting to learn so much more than I can tell them! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Pingback: Weekly Report | Ita Vita

  5. Sara R says:

    My girls are still a little young for this but this is something I will have to keep in mind, because it really does appear to be an excellent resource.

  6. ah0302 says:

    What a great list! Thanks for sharing!

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