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