Wichita State University and the City of Wichita, in cooperation with Watermark Books & Cafe, present an evening with Christo Brand, author of Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend, as part of the Gordon Parks Lecture Series on Monday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m.
The event is free to the public and will be located at the Eugene M. Hughes Metropolitan Complex, located at 5015 E. 29th St. N (the corner of 29th St. N. and Oliver).
President Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013 and that the President of South Africa declared December 8, 2013, as a national day of mourning.
MANDELA: My Prisoner, My Friend by Christo Brand with Barbara Jones (on sale November 18, 2014, Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99), is one of the most unique looks into the life of Nelson Mandela that a reader will come across. This is the great man as he has never been seen before, imprisoned and reduced to someone looked down upon by the country he was trying to save, scrubbing floors and his toilet bucket in humility.
Christo Brand came from a somewhat similar background as Mandela. Raised in a multi-ethnic farming community, Brand was dismayed to see what the true effects of apartheid were on his nation. When Brand went in to the military he chose to serve as a prison guard. He did not realize at the time when he was assigned to a remote desolate island off the coast, and its incumbent prison there – Robben Island Prison – that his path would cross with a man described by authorities as the most feared terrorist in their country.
For 12 years Brand was assigned as Mandela’s prison guard. He watched the man suffer humility after humility. But over time he saw the stature of Mandela grow before him. Seeing him suffer the loss of his mother and then son and still remain strong and true to his beliefs of an equal and free South Africa, Brand was won over by Mandela’s charm and authentic concern for others, and in time, he became a confidant and even accomplice to Mandela.
MANDELA shows how two men who would never have ordinarily met in South African society achieved an extraordinary effect on each other, with Brand bringing to Mandela his first experience of a kind and empathetic Afrikaaner and Mandela proving to Brand the humanity of black prisoners.
The stories told in this book show Brand as a true person of compassion, both with his famous prisoner friend but also with others who were incarcerated. Told with candor and reverence, MANDELA: My Prisoner, My Friend is both a personal story of friendship and a moving testament to the dedication, determination and most of all humanity exuded by one of the world’s great leaders and an ordinary man, his friend, who showed extraordinary decency at a time when it was so rare.
Christo Brand is the son of a farm foreman from rural South Africa. He served as Nelson Mandela’s prison guard for 12 years, primarily on Robben Island where he still works as a tour guide and bookstore manager. Barbara Jones: is the Africa correspondent for the Mail on Sunday newspaper and has covered Nelson Mandela since 2000. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.