South Africa–born Mathabane (Kaffir Boy) examines race relations in the United States through the lens of racial healing principles employed in Mandela’s postapartheid South Africa in this fervent plea for a better future. He espouses the philosophy of ubuntu, a renewed commitment to common humanity, empathy, forgiveness, and love, for American culture and politics. Using his own story as a backdrop, Mathabane highlights commonalities between the South African and American experiences, discussing obstacles faced in both societies. He connects the hatred he felt for South African ghetto police to that felt by rioters after the Rodney King case. More provocatively, he recalls forced segregation and the “pass books” (akin to internal passports) required for blacks to enter into white-only areas, and aligns these experiences with the self-segregation of “safe spaces” on American campuses, saying the latter is “well-meant... [but] oftentimes undermines the benefits of diversity.” In the second half of the book Mathabane elaborates on the principles of ubuntu through quotes from leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, Mandela, and philosophers, yet is light on logistics when applying them to America today. Instead he relies on hopes that “President Trump will embrace and champion the inclusive and humanizing principles of ubuntu in the same way that Mandela embraced and championed them.” For many readers, this might seem like wishful thinking. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2018 Release date: 01/01/2018 Genre: Nonfiction
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