3- Crusaders for Human Rights and Dignity
Corresponding Author(s) : Fred Hendricks
Africa Review of Books,
Vol. 2 No. 1 (2006): Africa Review of Books, Volume 2, n° 1, 2006
Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In our Lifetime
by Elinor Sisulu:
David Philip, 2003, 672pp, 0-86486-639-9
Elinor Sisulu has a written an epic and moving book on her parents-in law. It is different in two important respects to the flood of political biographies that have surfaced in South Africa since the demise of apartheid. In the first instance, Elinor Sisulu had unparalleled access to her subjects and secondly, it is the biography of two people rather than a single hero or heroine. These differences have profoundly shaped the nature of the biography. Elinor Sisulu was driven to write the book by a boundless admiration for her parents-inlaw, and by the urge to document the social history of black South Africans. Her admiration is not misplaced. Albertina and Walter and Sisulu lived exemplary lives together and the book does great justice to their monumental contribution to the ongoing struggle for justice in South Africa. But it does much more than that. It provides insight into the minutia of their political and personal decisions and it highlights the intended and unintended consequences of these. The political and personal are linked in powerful ways in this book largely becauseAlbertina and Walter Sisulu were jointly such a consummate embodiment of the struggle against apartheid. There are simply insufficient superlatives to describe their roles in the struggle and their lives as partners and it is possible to disentangle these only when offering a grossly distorted version of their lives.