Nelson Mandela Foundation


Comic book version of Mr Mandela’s life takes a refreshing look at the life of Madiba

Oct 1, 2008 – Nelson Mandela must be one of the best-documented historical figures internationally, with no shortage of reading material telling his heroic life story.

The two most recent authorised additions to a long list of published books about his life, however, take a decidedly different approach to the story of the first president of democratic South Africa.

Launched on July 5 and July 16, 2008 respectively, A Hunger for Freedom and Nelson Mandela: The Authorised Comic Book take a refreshing new look at the life of Madiba.

The books aim to engage people who may not usually be interested in political history. Both have generated considerable international attention.

A Hunger for Freedom: The Story of Food in the Life of Nelson Mandela, written by anthropologist and chef Anna Trapido, is described by the author as a “gastro-political biography”. It tells the story of Mr Mandela, his family and the struggle for freedom through the meals they shared together, politically contextualised and complete with recipes. Zindzi Mandela, daughter of Mr Mandela, said at the launch of the book that at times it had allowed her to “confront one’s ghosts”, reflecting on times of difficulty during her childhood.

Published by Jacana Media in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the book has sold approximately 6 000 copies to book stores locally. An Australian edition is being published as well.


Hunger for Freedom is available at all major South African bookstores

Bringing the story of Mr Mandela to life for a much younger audience, Nelson Mandela: The Authorised Comic Book was designed to entice young South Africans to learn about their history.

The book narrates Nelson Mandela’s life in the contexts of his times and his relationships with comrades, friends and family.

Published in partnership with Jonathan Ball Publishers and Umlando Wezithombe, it has sold over 5 000 copies to date.

Comprising a collection of eight comics, the story is designed to “engage younger people about our heritage”, said South African Education Minister Naledi Pandor at the launch.

“Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to us all,” she added.

South African sales experienced a boom over the period when Mr Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday, tapering back to a normal pattern thereafter, according to Jonathan Ball Publishers publishing director Jeremy Boraine. 

Boraine said United States rights had been sold to publishers WW Norton, who in the past have published prominent titles such as Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry as well as Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller Guns, Germs, and Steel, according to the WW Norton website. WW Norton is aiming to publish the Nelson Mandela comic book in July 2009, ahead of Madiba’s 91st birthday.

As South African sales continue to do well, interest internationally in the comic has been just as steady.

“We have experienced a lot of interest from publishers around the world,” added Boraine.

Some see the book as a collector’s item.

Both books are available at major bookstores nationally, where A Hunger for Freedom retails at R300 for hardback and R225 for paperback and Nelson Mandela: The Authorised Comic Book retails at R152 (recommended selling price).