Updates on Past Topics

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Time passes, and things happen. Here’s some updates on past blog and book topics that continue to make news around the world:

-A recent report in the New York Times depicts Nelson Mandela, the  former leader of South Africa and anti-apartheid figurehead struggling with his health, surrounded by family and friends who wish the aging activist would be granted some peace and quiet in what may well be his final days. As a symbol of the fight against oppression in South Africa, Mandela remains significant though he’s retired. Now, as he potentially nears the end of his life, it seems as though a new struggle will be fought over his legacy.

-On this day (May 28)  in 1936, Alan Turing invented his famous Turing Machine, a device that helps in understanding and explaining computer functions. This invention was vital in the development of the computer and computer science, and to honor Turing’s accomplishment, every year the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) gives out the A.M. Turing Award to scientists who make major advances in the world of computing. This year, the award was given to MIT professors Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali, who did work in the fields of cryptography and complexity theory. Some of their work focuses on increasing security in various online interactions, such as internet purchases and cloud computing. These issues are far beyond anything Turing could have imagined for computers when he invented his machine, but the bestowal of the award with his name on it affirms his vital role in the advancement of this technology that has come to define the century.

Harper Lee has returned to the headlines: the author of To Kill a Mockingbird has sued the son-in-law of her former literary agent, alleging that he took advantage of her age and failing health to convince her to sign over rights to the book, and that he has cheated her out of proceeds for many years. The case has not yet been decided; hopefully it will not be a sad final chapter for the author of one of America’s most beloved novels.

-More news from North Korea. Kim Jong-un has apparently not taken to heart the request of his friend Dennis Rodman, and will not be releasing American citizen Kenneth Bae, sentenced to 15 years in prison for vaguely defined crimes against the North Korean state. Bae just began serving his sentence, in a “special prison” that is largely a mystery to outsiders. North Korea also reignited tensions and fears about nuclear threats when the country fired four short range missiles into Sea of Japan. Though the launches were only tests, and no one was hurt, the missiles refocused attention on the small country, and its repeated promises to build nuclear weapons. Or perhaps the launch was just some stealth advertising for the country’s new ski resort

Reportedly, director Steven Spielberg’s next project will be a film adaptation of American Sniper, the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Kyle was killed in February, while trying to help another soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder at a gun range. Kyle is one of the many soldiers documented in The Military Experience. Special Operations: Snipers from Morgan Reynolds Publishing.

These are just a few of things happening in the world. They remind us that just because the book is over, the story is not at an end, and that to fully understand what is happening in the world right now, we must have an understanding of the past.

To learn more about Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, Profiles in Mathematics: Alan TuringReal Courage: The Story of Harper LeeThe Military Experience. Special Operations: Snipers, or our Ebook exclusive, Modern American Conflicts: The Korean War, please visit morganreynolds.com.

-Josh Barrer,

Associate Editor





“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela


South Africa has released currency notes featuring the image of Nelson Mandela, one of the world’s most beloved statesmen. The new Mandela notes, Madiba Bucks, Mandela Rands, or so-called Randelas went into circulation this month. The series comes in demoninations of 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10 Rand notes—the notes’ reverse side remains the same, with pictures of the “Big Five” animals (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo).

 South Africa president Jacob Zuma said the banknotes were “a humble gesture” to express South Africa’s “deep gratitude.” The first person to use the new banknotes was South Africa’s Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus. “She spent 160 rands, about $18 on some nuts, beetroot, a watermelon, and a cucumber at her local shop in the capital, Pretoria,” according to one news report. Said Marcus, “This is our way to pay tribute to him. Madiba does represent something special, not only in South Africa. He is really an extraordinary human being.”

Author Kem Knapp Sawyer tells the story of Madiba, as he is affectionately known, in the biography Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, published by Morgan Reynolds. Ninety-four years old and retired from public life, Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison for fighting apartheid. At his trial, he famously spoke these words:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

In 1993 Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against white minority rule in South Africa, and in 1994 he became the country’s first democratically elected president.

Mandela is the first black person to have his image on banknotes in South Africa and only the second individual to be featured. Jan van Riebeeck, the first Dutch administrator of Cape Town and a member of the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth century, was the first.

Sharon F. Doorasamy

Managing Editor

To learn more about Mandela, check out Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela by Kem Knapp Sawyer (ISBN: 978-1-59935-167-4) from your local library.

Published in: on November 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm  Comments (1)  
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‎”A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”-Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela in 1937

Today in South Africa, millions of children sang happy birthday to the nation’s beloved anti-apartheid freedom fighter and leader, Nelson Mandela. Mandela is ninety-four years old.

According to Kem Knapp Sawyer, author of Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, Mandela spent more than a third of his life in prison after openly fighting the then oppressive South African government for equal rights for the black majority. “Mandela bravely devoted his life to the cherished ideal of ‘a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities.'”

In 1990, Mandela was released from prison amid the cheers of his people. Sawyer wrote, “Four years after Mandela’s release from prison… he became the first president of a democratic South Africa, serving as a symbol of peace, unity, and change, even in the face of enormously difficult social and economic challenges.”

For his ninety-fourth birthday, USAToday reports, “Mandela is expected to spend the day privately with his family at their homestead in his southeastern birth village of Qunu.”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea are visiting South Africa this week to celebrate with Mandela and his family in Qunu.

“Meanwhile, communities in South Africa and around the world were dedicating 67 minutes of the day to volunteer work and projects for the needy–one minute to mark each of Mandela’s 67 years in public service.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about Nelson Mandela, check out Kem Knapp Sawyer’s Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela (ISBN 9781599351674)

Published in: on July 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm  Comments (1)  
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“The long walk continues.”-Nelson Mandela

In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Known throughout the world for orchestrating the fall of apartheid, the ANC is also celebrated for producing one of the most beloved and admired statesmen on earth: Nelson Mandela. Alex Perry of Time reported, “The central figure in ANC legend is Mandela, who reinvigorated the party in the 1940s and eventually led it to power in 1994.”

Mandela joined the ANC in 1943 and dedicated his life to its cause, to attain equal rights for South Africa’s oppressed black majority. He spent twenty-seven and a half years in prison—more than a third of his adult life—for conspiracy to overthrow the government of South Africa and its policies of white supremacy.

In 1994, four years after his release, Mandela was elected president of a democratic South Africa. Kem Sawyer, author of Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, wrote, “It was a day to remember. The ANC, the party to which Mandela had dedicated most of his life, captured 62.6 of the vote. Mandela would become his country’s first black president.”

Mandela served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, but despite his best efforts, his administration was not able to lift millions of South Africans out of poverty or transform the racially divided country into a “rainbow nation.” Wrote Sawyer:

On March 29, 1999, Mandela gave his last speech to Parliament, saying “It is in the legislatures that the instruments have been fashioned to create a better life for all.” He paid tribute to all South Africans who had made him who he was—the villagers, the workers, the intelligentsia, the business people, and those who “cherished the vision of a better life for all people everywhere.” He ended with the words, “The long walk continues.”

Today, the ANC finds itself at a crossroads on that long walk. Richard Dowden of Spectator magazine wrote, “After the departure of the old guard led by Mandela, the ANC has a growing reputation for corruption as well as incompetence.”

Dowden continued:

Eighteen years after the ANC came to power South Africa has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world and the gap appears to be widening. 10 % of the population are still without clean water and 20 % without electricity. And who is paying the … bill for the ANC’s 100th party this week? The South African tax payers.

Whatever the future holds, Nelson Mandela remains the most iconic figure of the ANC and South Africa.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on Mandela and the ANC, check out Kem Sawyer’s Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, a Morgan Reynolds title. (ISBN9781599351674)

Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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