In South Africa, former comrades in the struggle against apartheid gathered to honor former President Nelson Mandela with a new book about his life. The volume contains previously unpublished photographs and tributes from dozens of leaders from around the world.
The chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Jakes Gerwel, launched the book, saying the words and deeds of Nelson Mandela are well documented, and, as a result, another book about the revered elder statesman would not seem necessary. "On the contrary, the recording of memory, the keeping alive of that meaning and that value for posterity is extremely important. And, that's what we're doing today with the launching of this book," he said.
The book, entitled Mandela, The Authorized Portrait, chronicles the life of Mr. Mandela from his youth through his struggle against apartheid and 26-year imprisonment, and his leadership during the turbulent early years of South African democracy.
It contains letters and previously unpublished photographs of Mr. Mandela, as well as 58 testimonials by people ranging from former comrades and prison wardens to world leaders, such as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Other tributes come from celebrities, such as former boxer Mohammad Ali and rock musician and Africa activist Bono.
Mr. Mandela and South African President Thabo Mbeki presided over the event, chatting with colleagues and reporters, but made no formal remarks.
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, in the critique, called the book innovative, saying it provides an intimate look at the man known affectionately as Madiba. "They brought all of this together to capture this mosaic of Madiba's life, to give a sense of life to those words that otherwise may have been just another history," he said.
One of the contributors, Amina Frense, says collecting the interviews was relatively easy, but condensing the material was a major challenge. "People wanted to talk, and people talked a lot, and, of course, that had to be edited. But it was interesting to get a kind of a tapestry of the life of Mandela," Frense said.
The book is being launched simultaneously in a dozen countries. The contributors presented their notes and recordings to the Nelson Mandela Foundation's historical center.