The city of Wichita and Wichita State University, in connection with Watermark Books, are proud to sponsor and host a conversation with Christo Brand, author (with Barbara Jones) of “Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend,” as a part of the Gordon Parks Lecture Series at WSU. This event will be at 7 p.m. Monday at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex, 29th Street North and Oliver. There will be a book signing after the conversation.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned by the apartheid South African government. He was incarcerated from 1964 until 1990, spending 18 of those years at the prison on Robben Island. Brand was a teen prison warder assigned to this notorious prison when he first met Mandela.
In his book, Brand provides intimate and personal insights into Mandela’s character and personality. As Brand details his unlikely friendship, as a white Afrikaner youth, with Mandela, we are able to learn much about South Africa, Mandela and Brand.
After his release from prison, Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. He gained international acclaim for his work and life’s achievements, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 (with former South African President F.W. de Klerk).
Mandela died on Dec. 5, 2013, at the age of 95. South African President Jacob Zuma announced a national mourning period of 10 days and declared Dec. 8, 2013, as a national day of prayer and reflection.
During his visit to the United States, Brand will be spending time at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and with his publishing company in New York City. His only other destination in the United States will be Wichita.
We must thank Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, City Council member Lavonta Williams and the other members of the delegation who recently traveled to South Africa from Wichita for extending an invitation to Brand to come to Wichita to share his insights and information with our community. The timing of the event, one year after the declared national day of reflection, is an extraordinary opportunity for our community to reflect on Mandela’s legacy – as well as continuing WSU’s commitment to honor and celebrate the life of Gordon Parks, who also dedicated his life to promote equality and to fight discrimination and racism in his country and throughout the world.
Ted Ayres is vice president and general counsel at Wichita State University.