Raised in a multi-ethnic farming community, Afrikaner Christo Brand was confused and saddened when he first confronted the realities of South African apartheid. Conscripted into the military at 18, Brand chose to serve as a prison guard rather than embrace the brutality and danger inherent in the work of soldiers and policemen.Read more...
Raised in a multi-ethnic farming community, Afrikaner Christo Brand was confused and saddened when he first confronted the realities of South African apartheid. Conscripted into the military at 18, Brand chose to serve as a prison guard rather than embrace the brutality and danger inherent in the work of soldiers and policemen. Assigned to the maximum security facility on remote Robben Island, Brand was given charge of the country's most infamous inmate: Nelson Mandela.
For 12 years Brand watched Mandela scrub floors, empty his toilet bucket, grieve over the deaths of family and friends yet remain as strong as any freedom fighter in history. Won over by Madiba's charm and authentic concern for the well-being of others, Brand became Mandela's confidant and at times accomplice. Celebrating triumphs and suffering through many setbacks, the two men formed an unlikely bond, one that would endure until Mandela's death.
Told with candor and reverence, "Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend "is both a meditation on friendship and a moving testament to the dedication, determination and most of all humanity exuded by one of the world's great leaders."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-08-18
- Reviewer: Staff
In June 1964, Nelson Mandela arrived at South Africa's Robben Island Prison, convicted of sabotage and given a life sentence. Fourteen years later, Brand, a relatively apolitical 18-year-old Afrikaner, arrived as a new guard. When, in 1982, Mandela was moved to Pollsmoor Prison, chance placed Brand there as well. This memoir is an account of the bond that formed slowly between the two over the course of three decades. Brand begins by reporting the advice he received from his father, who "would not tolerate disrespecting older people of any colour." By the end, Mandela is the one giving Brand stern but compassionate fatherly advice. Brand's position on the opposite side of the bars from his famous charge gives him a fascinating perspective on an oft-told story. He paints a vivid picture of prison life in South Africa at the time, with its racial discrimination—no bread was given to black prisoners—and the guards' own isolation from news of the outside world. The central focus of this extraordinary book, however, is a remarkable friendship that bridged age, race, and politics, as Mandela went from prisoner to secret negotiator, and eventually became a revered president. (Nov.)