SA-born au­thor writes best-sell­ing book about Madiba’s childhood

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SAMEER NAIK

SOUTH African-born au­thor Ellen Crowe wrote a book to in­spire chil­dren to learn about the legacy of Nel­son Man­dela.

But never in her wildest dreams did she imag­ine it would be­come a best-seller.

This week, Crowe’s book The Boy Called Trou­ble­maker, The Childhood of Nel­son Man­dela was listed num­ber two on Ama­zon USA.

Crowe, who grew up in Uiten­hage but now lives in the US, worked on the book for more than three years.

This week Crowe said she was de­lighted at its suc­cess.

“I wanted to tell young read­ers about this won­der­ful, in­spir­ing man. Most of the books about Man­dela are about his whole life. I chose to write about his childhood, and in­clude a sum­mary of his life at the end of the book.

“I wrote about fas­ci­nat­ing things that would in­ter­est chil- dren, in­clud­ing witch­doc­tors and mon­sters like the rec­tum­snatcher prowl­ing the veld at night.”

Crowe said the book tells how Man­dela’s childhood in­flu­enced his life.

“I found it fas­ci­nat­ing that his name Rolih­lahla meant Trou­ble­maker, yet he ul­ti­mately won the No­bel Peace Prize. Man­dela once said ev­ery­thing he needed to know in life, he’d learned from grow­ing up in the small vil­lage of Qunu.

“I found this a re­ally in­ter­est­ing state­ment as his life was so ex­tra­or­di­nary and so dif­fi­cult. I won­dered what he meant.”

She stud­ied his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy and his speeches, and said she found nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of things his childhood had taught him – in­clud­ing how to de­feat his en­e­mies with­out hu­mil­i­at­ing them.

Crowe said she had wanted to write a bi­og­ra­phy that would in­spire chil­dren.

“I like to show chil­dren it’s pos­si­ble to over­come huge prob­lems ... that it’s pos­si­ble to dream a dream and make the dream come true.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing to learn that fa­mous, suc­cess­ful peo­ple were once kids with prob­lems too.”

Crowe first re­leased the book a year ago, but it was re­designed into an ebook and re­launched last week.

“Then Star­Walk Kids New York, a com­pany that pub­lishes books and also streams ebooks for the school mar­ket, ac­cepted the book,” she ex­plained.

“They re­designed it quite beau­ti­fully and re­leased it last week as an ebook on Ama­zon. I’ve been ad­vised the pa­per­back is for sale on Ama­zon too.”

It had been her dream to meet Man­dela, she added, but it wasn’t to be re­alised.

“Be­fore pub­lish­ing, I sent the book to the Of­fice of Nel­son Man­dela ask­ing for their ap­proval. They said they would for­ward the book to Man­dela. They also wrote that chil­dren’s lit­er­acy and ed­u­ca­tion were his high­est pri­or­ity.”

Crowe be­lieves it is vi­tal for chil­dren to learn about Man­dela’s legacy.

“There is so much vi­o­lence in the world, so many wars and gang fights. I think the most valu­able les­son we can learn from him is for­give­ness,” she said. “He for­gave his en­e­mies yet this didn’t make him in any way weaker. It strength­ened him and helped him to at­tain

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