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Deconstructing the Mandela phenomenon

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:10 IST
Ritika Chopra
Ritika Chopra
Hindustan Times
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Leading Like Nelson Mandela
Martin Kalunga-Banda
Publisher: Arvind
Price: Rs 150

He is one of the world's most respected statesmen and his popularity has spawned its own cottage industry of publications.

Anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner, former president of South Africa and Nobel prize winner, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has inspired several books.

Leading like Nelson Mandela by Martin Kalungu-Banda is one among them. Madiba’s (an affectionate nickname accorded to Mandela in South Africa) breadth of appeal cuts across the divisions of race, class, gender and even culture.

This book reveals qualities that make up the ‘Mandela Phenomenon’ by narrating personal encounters that many people, from famous personalities to common men and women, have had with this great leader. But the text is more than just a collection of short stories.

Each anecdote is followed by a comprehensive explanation, which deconstructs the account to bring out the leadership quality displayed by Mandela. However, this is ideally where the author should have stopped dwelling on the story.

The added ‘Food for thought’ section which aims to explain the leadership quality in a nutshell makes the book's content sound repetitive and preachy.

The latter can eventually make a young reader’s interest sag. So, though Mandela’s tales can prove be inspiring both for the grown-up and the youngster, Martin’s excessive explaining could prove distracting.

Instead of spelling every detail and hidden lessons out, he should have allowed the reader to interpret the message and lessons through introspection.