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South Africa 2021

South Africa

South Africa

After 27 long years as a political prisoner, Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994, and through forgiveness and grace lead his nation into a future shaped by the power of reconciliation. This towering bronze statue of Mandela welcomes South Africans from villages, towns, and cities with open arms. The outstretched arms and open hands represent the compassion, unity, and forgiveness that embrace all of this country’s men, women, and children. The legs—one in front of the other—symbolize a nation on the move and the commitment to an improved quality of life for future generations.
Harlen Persinger © 2017

Republic of South Africa
Southern Africa

Area 471K mi2; 1.2M km2

Arable 10%

Population 56.5M (120/mi²; 47/km²)

Gov’t Parliamentary republic

Capital Pretoria (2.5M)

GCP/capita $13,600

Unemployment 28%

In poverty 17%


Life expectancy 65 yrs

Infant Mortality 28/1K live births

Literacy 87%

Languages 11 official languages: IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Setswana, English, Sesotho, Xitsonga, SiSwati, Tshivenda, IsiNdebele, others

Religions Christian 86%, ancestral/tribal/animist/traditional African religions 5%, Muslim 2%, other 2%, none 5%

Health 8% of GDP

Education 6% of GDP (29th)

Military 1% of GDP (120th)

Labor Force Agriculture 5%, industry 24%, services 72%

PCVs 1997–present CURRENT: 133, Education, Health, AIDS relief; TTD: 1,703

Adult Books

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
By Nelson Mandela

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir
Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: 1995 Back Bay Books; 1st Paperback Ed edition (October 1, 1995)
Language: English
Setting: South Africa
ISBN-10: 0316548189
ISBN-13: 9978-0316548182

Nelson Mandela was one of the world's greatest and charismatic leader, president of the African National Congress and head of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. His lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. This record of his life's story tells of renewed hope and his life behind bars.

Editorial Reviews
The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself in Long Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's apartheid regime. Among the book's interesting revelations is Mandela's ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him two marriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished. Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances — a spirit in which just about everybody can find something to admire.

Amazon Reader Reviews
Even better than I knew it would be! I can't fully express in words what this book means to me. I put off reading it for years. Mr. Mandela was released from prison in my college years and so I knew who he was, and what he accomplished on a very surface level. I always knew I wanted to know his life’s story on a deeper level.

The writing is forceful, and beautiful and honest. I received inspiration, education and amazement from reading this book.

…the best way I can describe this book is that after reading it, it made me determined to be a better person!

Should be required reading in all schools! This was incredible! This book shed so much insight on Mandela's thoughts and his reasonable outlook throughout his life that I gained an enormous respect for him and his cause. I've been really in the dark about racial prejudice—maybe because I wanted to stay ignorant about something I cannot understand nor fathom. We have come so far in triumph against these injustices of humanity, though if not enough of us are paying attention then we are doomed to repeat history. This is one of the top-most inspirational books of all time. Powerful in forgiveness and progressive! The school system needs to throw out the boring, pointless books of the past and introduce ones of more depth- thought provoking. If children of today were taught to reason as Mandela did in this book, can one imagine what powerful leaders we would have tomorrow? A must read!

Kids' Books

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
By Trevor Noah

Genre: Nonfiction (adapted for young readers)
Format: 304 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-525-58219-9
Age Range: 10-17 years
Publisher: New York: Yearling,/Random House (April 2020)

Born to a black mother and a white father, Trevor was technically considered “illegal” under South African rules of apartheid. This autobiography chronicles Trevor’s childhood and his rise to success.

Editorial Reviews
"His mother raised him with an imagination and showed that there were no barriers to whatever he wanted to be. Readers will find this journey through Noah’s formative years humorous and exciting."


"Startling in its honesty, humor, and humility."

-Kirkus Reviews

"For readers who will appreciate and understand how a parent’s love enabled Noah to become the successful man he is now."

School Library Journal

Reader Comments
Enlightening, entertaining, educational and inspiring. It’s an easy read that moves quickly. At times I was laughing out loud, while other times I was sitting in suspense. The whole time, however, I was being educated. He shares his experiences from a deep and thoughtful perspective. Simply put, it was brilliant!

Apartheid was no joke. What a great memoir for young readers. Huge respect for Trevor Noah and his mother. Funny and tragic.


 Film: Azibuye: The Occupation
Genre: Virtual Reality Documentary Short
Director: Dylan Valley
Date of Release: 2019
Language: English
Run Time: 11 minutes

Summary: This provocative documentary explores the intersection of art, activism, and social justice in Johannesburg. When artists/activists Masello and Evan take up residence in an abandoned mansion in an affluent part of Johannesburg, they proclaim their occupation to be an artistic and political act in defiance of inequalities in land ownership in South Africa. Is it illegal squatting—or political protest? Do these disenfranchised individuals have a valid claim to land that centuries ago was stolen?

The emotional topic of land ownership is at the centre of Azibuye: The Occupation, a virtual reality documentary which tackles this contentious issue through the eyes of two homeless people who illegally occupy a mansion in Johannesburg.


Groundbreaking exploration of art, activism, social justice: “This provocative documentary explores the intersection of art, activism and social justice in Johannesburg. Masello and Evan are part of a black artist/activist collective who break into an abandoned mansion in the wealthiest part of Johannesburg and occupy it as an artistic and political act to defy property inequities in South Africa,” writes the Sundance Institute.


Artist: Thandiswa Mazwai

YouTube review: “Belede” is a song of the struggle of an African child, and is very poetic. It says, “We are angry but poor, so poor that we can’t even afford advanced weapons to fight and reclaim what is rightfully our… BUT that will not stop us from fighting, we will use whatever we have (as long as it’s free) at our disposal to fight.

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