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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MANDELA’S EGO (article first published : 2006-07-21)

Lewis Nkosi’s latest novel, Mandela’s Ego, is set in the heady days of 1960’s South Africa, with Nelson Mandela in hiding from the apartheid government’s security forces. For Dumisa Gumede, a herdboy and budding Don Juan, Mandela is the stuff of which legends are made: a big-shot lawyer who talks back to white magistrates and single-handedly wages the great fight for his people’s freedom.

Dumia is equally enamoured of his hero – who, it is said, can transform himself into a black bull to escape his pursuers – and the delights of his village’s new crop of marriage-able girls. Only Nobuhle, the Beautiful One, has the power to resist his advances.

Mandela’s Ego combines satire with wry memoir, interweaving the magical time of coming of age for boys in Zululand with the historic moment of Mandela’s going underground. The result is a bittersweet tapestry of promise and loss that holds up a young nation’s biography for subtle appraisal and charts exciting new territory in South African writing.

Mandela’s Ego is published by Umuzi and retails at R125.




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