Writer encourages critical thinking

Lord Peter Hain is joined by MEC for Education Debbie Schaffer and Usasazo High School pupils during the launch of his book, Mandela, His Essential Life at the schools library.

Nelson Mandela’s love for education and love for people should inspire children to learn and know more about their history. So says Lord Peter Hain, the author of Madiba’s short biography, Mandela: His Essential Life.

He was addressing Grade 12 pupils at Usasazo High School on Thursday July 26, during the launch of his book. He also shared his anti-apartheid struggle experience and his relationship with the late former statesman.

The former anti-apartheid campaigner and member of the British parliament also donated 500 copies of his book to eight Mellon Education schools and answered questions posed by the pupils. Lord Hain repeatedly encouraged pupils to think critically and learn from Madiba.

He stressed the need to go to school and criticised former President Jacob Zuma for the manner in which he ruled the country.

“Mandela thought of others, not himself. He sacrificed his life. His values (included) integrity. Mandela believed in social justice, in equality and Human Rights. He believed in free media. But he was never a saint,” he said.

“He always had time for people. If you try to live by those values, the country will be much better. History is so important for you, and this book will give you insight of that. Working hard at school is the best thing you can do.”

Lord Hain said there had previously been no short and readable biography of Madiba. “This is his entire story. I am hoping that young people will read it.

“Madiba was a remarkable person. He was the most respected figure, he is still respected. I cannot remember any other person loved like him in the entire world,” he said.

Lord Hain expressed some concerns about the direction South Africa was heading.

“It is tough in South Africa and it will continue until we all unite. There are a lot of wrongs in the country. But the current president is trying all he can to restore order,” he said.

“Mandela would have been happy that there’s still free media. But he would have been horrified by corruption and many other things. Surely he did not sacrifice his life for corruption and cronyism.”

He said he was privileged to have written a book about the most respected man in the world.