Madiba’s life story published for children

Macmillan launches children’s version of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom in celebration of International Literacy Week

image

The children’s version of Long Walk to Freedom

September 9, 2009 – To mark International Literacy Week, Macmillan in association with the READ Trust and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have launched a children’s version of Mr Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.

South African author Chris van Wyk was at the launch today, held at the READ Educational Trust in Johannesburg. “I’ve been looking forward to this day – I was very honoured when asked to write this book,” said Van Wyk. 

The book is illustrated by South African artist Paddy Bouma.

One hundred learners from schools in Gauteng involved with the READ Educational Trust literacy programme attended the launch along with staff of the Foundation, Macmillan and the READ Trust. The programme reaches out to disadvantaged schools, providing them with literacy skills.

Dušanka Stojaković, managing director of Macmillan, told the learners how important it was for them to read. “It is from you that we’ll draw our future authors – I look forward to receiving your manuscripts,” she said.

image

Ziyanda Manaway, great-grandchild of Mr Mandela, Chris van Wyk and learners from Boepakitso Primary celebrate the launch of the children’s version of Long Walk to Freedom

Achmat Dangor, chief executive of the Foundation, told the learners how Mr Mandela is never without a book. “He is always reading,” he said. Dangor praised Van Wyk’s work: “Chris is a wonderful choice – he has done justice to the [original] book,” he said.

The book has been released in 13 languages – all 11 official South African languages, as well as Portuguese and American English – making it accessible to a wide readership. It is a simpler version of Mr Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, allowing those who read it to have fun while learning about his life and legacy.

“Mr Mandela would want you to have fun while reading the book,” Van Wyk told the learners. “If he was here he would say, let’s have some fun.” 

“Our granddad believes that education and reading are two of the most important things for children,” said Ziyanda Manaway, Mr Mandela’s eight-year-old great-grandson. He read out a message from Mr Mandela: “The system of apartheid robbed many children of their right to a decent education and of the joy of reading. This joy is one that I have treasured all my life, and it is one I wish for all South Africans.” 

Cynthia Hugo, national director of READ, praised the learners for their enthusiasm that they had shown in their work with the READ Trust programme. “They have read all the books they have to pieces; these children are desperate to read,” she said.

So there was great applause when she announced that every learner would be given a free copy of the book, signed by Van Wyk.

The book allows a greater audience to have access to and understand the legacy of Mr Mandela. “Nelson Mandela’s story is a rich part of our country’s history and it should be read by everyone, no matter what their age group. Nelson Mandela is such an inspiring leader and this book is the perfect way to inspire and encourage kids to read,” said Van Wyk.

Reflections:

“When I get home I will tell my friends that education is precious. I will tell them that they mustn’t disappoint Nelson Mandela because he fought for our freedom so that we could have the right to learn.” – Mphumeleli Mtshali (12), I’sulihle Primary School.

“What I learnt today was that education is important. One needs to be educated in order to understand how things are done and learn more about how Mr Mandela overcame difficult times.” – Thulisile Sekhukhuni (12), I’sulihle Primary School.

“Today was wonderful. It is stunning to be part of the launch of such a book. The art and the writing in the book are really impressive. I like it because it’s not only for kids, adults can also relate to it. This book will give children a more personal approach to the life of Nelson Mandela; it will show them the human being that he is.” – Ivor Massari, writer and editor

“Today I learnt a lot about the way Mr Mandela grew up: it’s just like mine and yours. I admire him for the fact that he was prepared to die for freedom. When I grow up I want to be just like him.” – Simphiwe Maluleke (12), Boepakitso Primary School.

“Today I learnt to keep pushing even if my life isn’t going okay. I also learnt that no matter how young you are you can publish your own book. I learnt to value education because knowledge is power.” – Bongiwe Thwala (11), Boepakitso Primary School

“I had a really nice time today. I learnt about Mr Mandela’s love for reading and books, so as students we must keep reading because reading frees our minds. I will take the book and encourage others to read it so that they also can learn more about Mr Mandela’s life.” – Siphamandla Ndawo (12), Boepakitso Primary School

image

Chris van Wyk signs copies of Long Walk to Freedom for learners who attended the event

image

Nkululeko Khuzwayo, a Grade 6 learner at Boepakitso Primary, carried his copy of the original Long Walk to Freedom to the event

image

A copy of the children’s version of Long Walk to Freedom

image

Chris van Wyk engages with the audience as he tells the story of how the book was written

image

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s CEO Achmat Dangor addresses the audience at the launch

image

Dušanka Stojaković, managing director of Macmillan, told the learners how important it was to maintain good literacy

image

Nina Gabriels, publicist for Macmillan, opened the launch

image

Cynthia Hugo, national director of READ, praised the learners and told them about the importance of spreading literacy to the fellow classmates

 
image

Ziyanda Manaway, great-grandchild of Mr Mandela, Chris van Wyk and learners from Boepakitso Primary celebrate the launch of the children’s version of Long Walk to Freedom