For Nelson Mandela Essay - Critical Essays

For Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela has been in prison for almost a quarter of a century. His crime was to speak out against the system of apartheid, or rigid racial segregation, in his native land of South Africa. Because of his long isolation and stern convictions, Mandela has become internationally recognized embodiment of the struggle of South African blacks for freedom and equality. FOR NELSON MANDELA brings together writings from twenty-three contemporary authors to honor Mandela’s persistent and unyielding struggle.

The volume is edited by Jacques Derrida, the noted French linguistic philosopher, and Mustapha Tlili, a Tunisian writer who is a knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Contributors to the collection include Nadine Gordimer, Susan Sontag, Samuel Beckett, John Ashbery, and Allen Ginsberg.

Although Nelson Mandela is the focus of the collection, the pieces speak to a fundamental human urge for freedom, recognition, and dignity. The selections are not overtly political, but instead are artistic salutes to Mandela and the efforts to those South Africans, white as well as black, who are seeking to bring about an end to the cruel system of apartheid. Although each of the pieces stands alone as an independent work, they mesh together into a coherent presentation.

FOR NELSON MANDELA includes the work of a distinguished gallery of writers. John Ashbery has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969; Olympe Bhely-Quenum, of Benin, was the 1966 winner of the Grand Prix Litteraire d’Afrique. Other contributors are well known in the United States and throughout the world.

FOR NELSON MANDELA is a tribute to a man, to a cause, and to a people. It is also a striking gathering of individual pieces which are complete and satisfying in themselves, and which together constitute an impressive tribute to the most famous political prisoner to our times.