'Grandad Mandela' fought to make SA like a packet of Jelly Tots

Nelson Mandela's daughter and great-grandchildren have written an inspiring children's book that explains Madiba's role in ending apartheid

18 July 2018 - 00:00 By Toni Jaye Singer
'Grandad Mandela'.
'Grandad Mandela'.
Image: Supplied

If we want to learn from our nation's past mistakes and keep Madiba's legacy alive, it's essential we tell our children stories about our country's history. But how do you explain complex concepts like apartheid and equality to your little ones? Easy. You read them Grandad Mandela (Lincoln Children’s Books, R170).

Delightful and insightful, this picture book was written by Nelson Mandela's daughter, Zindzi, along with her grandchildren, Zazi (8) and Ziwelene (6), to commemorate Madiba's centenary. 

The story begins when Zazi and Ziwelene discover a old photo of Mandela, and ask their grandmother a whole lot of questions about him.

Along with the wonderful illustrations by Sean Qualls, this Q&A format adds to the book's charm. The little Mandela's queries range from the sweet and innocent ("Did Grandad have to have his birthday in prison?") to the heart-breakingly serious ("But why did the white people start making everybody's lives be sad lives?").

'Grandad Mandela' was illustrated by award-winning artist Sean Qualls.
'Grandad Mandela' was illustrated by award-winning artist Sean Qualls.
Image: Supplied

This book will teach your children about life during apartheid, Mandela's role in creating the rainbow nation and how, like him, they can help to make the world a better place.

Parents will learn something too. As Zindzi says, this book illustrates "tender and honest ways to speak with children about difficult topics in current events around the world".

Just look at how she sensitively explains the reason her father fought against apartheid in this excerpt from Grandad Mandela:

"Why did Grandad go to jail?" asked Zazi.

"He went to jail because he was fighting against apartheid. Apartheid was a law in South Africa that separated black people and white people, and said that white people were better. Grandad was fighting for us all to be equal.

"You know like we say, 'Love You Lots Like Jelly Tots?' We are different colours but we all taste the same?"

"Uh-huh," said Zazi.

"That's what Grandad Mandela was fighting for."

WATCH | Zindzi, Zazi and Ziwelene Mandela read excerpts from Grandad Mandela