Sociology professor first African author to pen Nelson Mandela biography

Sociology professor and author Xolela Mangcu will be the first African author to write a Nelson Mandela biography, according to a Columbian College of Arts and Sciences release Wednesday.

Mangcu’s multivolume biography will focus on Mandela’s political activism during the Apartheid era, a period of institutionalized racial segregation in South Africa that ended in 1994, and his term as president of South Africa, according to the release. Mangcu said that he respects Mandela, whom he met with regularly during his presidency, but will not refrain from criticizing the revered leader in his book.

“The first obligation of the biographer is to the truth,” he said in the release.

Mangcu has authored nine books, including “Biko: A Life,” which chronicles the life of anti-Apartheid activist Stephen Biko, the release states. He said students must continue to learn from the “lessons” of Apartheid even 25 years later.  

“Our challenge as educators is to help our students see politics, freedom and justice as global concepts,” Mangcu said. “We have to get our students to think and know more about the world – because knowledge leads to action.”

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