Is it a bird? A plane? It?s Mandela! | india | Hindustan Times
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Is it a bird? A plane? It?s Mandela!

Displaying his trademark self-deprecatory wit, Nelson Mandela on Friday pronounced himself a ?comic character? as he launched a cartoon book series on his life, which he said was aimed at opening up the joys of reading to his countrymen.

india Updated: Oct 29, 2005 23:38 IST
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Displaying his trademark self-deprecatory wit, Nelson Mandela on Friday pronounced himself a “comic character” as he launched a cartoon book series on his life, which he said was aimed at opening up the joys of reading to his countrymen.

“You know you are really famous the day you have become a comic character,” Mandela said to laughter, adding that the genre was grossly undervalued as being lightweight and of little literary value.

The first in a series of nine comics covering the life of South Africa’s most famous son was launched on Friday and the

others will follow suit.

He said the advantages of comics were many, for “those like me whose eyes are not what they were, one can see pictures,” adding more seriously: “My hope is that elementary reading of comics will lead the youth to the joy of reading wood books.”

“That joy has been mine all my life, and it is one I wish for all South Africans,” he said. “If the comic reaches new readers, then the project will have been worthwhile.”

The world’s most famous prisoner of conscience, who spent a total of 27 years behind bars, said “one of the few advantages of prison life is one has time to read.”

Half-a-million copies of the comic will be distributed free in schools and the strip will also feature in newspaper cartoons, said John Samuel, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the elder statesman’s flagship charity organisqtion.

Samuel said the first comic, entitled “A son of the Eastern Cape,” and covering the period from Mandela’s birth in one of South Africa’s poorest regions, the Transkei, on July 18, 1918, in a royal household, until his arrival in Johannesburg as a youth.

First Published: Oct 29, 2005 23:38 IST