Give a book in Mandela’s name


children-and-books---textUphold Nelson Mandela’s legacy by contributing to the Book Drive. (Image: Flickr)

South Africa commemorated the death of world leader Nelson Mandela on 5 December, the first anniversary of his death, and in a few quick steps you can help fight illiteracy by ordering and paying for a book for charity in his memory.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, in partnership with The Book People, aims to collect 67 000 books and promote literacy over the next three months. Every book bought at The Book People in the next three months will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Book Drive to equip less privileged schools and communities around South Africa.

“We all have a responsibility as parents, as caregivers, as educators, as leaders and as citizens, to instil in our children the critical drive for literacy and learning, so that we can give them the chance to fulfil their dreams,” explained Russell Nelson, from The Book People.

Contributions can be made in the comfort of people’s own time online on The Book People’s website. As with other online shopping, you need to register on the website by filling in your name, surname, email address and contact details. Browse the titles, and when you have found a publication you want to buy, click “add to cart”. Follow the prompts to complete your transaction – and you will have helped to fight illiteracy.

Books may also be dropped off at select Cotton On stores and the foundation’s Centre of Memory at 107 Central Street, Houghton, Johannesburg.

Yase Godlo, the manager of Mandela Day and outreach at the foundation, said: “The book drive gives people everywhere the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to Madiba’s legacy and follow his example in helping to make this world a better place for all.”

Mandela Day Book Drive

This is the second book drive held this year in Mandela’s name to benefit the underprivileged and help to beat illiteracy. The Gauteng department of education held one for International Mandela Day on 11 July.

In that one, pupils from Roedean, Saheti and Redhill primary schools got the ball rolling, making a generous donation of books that were received by Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

Education was close to Mandela’s heart. Ahmed Kathrada, one of his long-time friends, spoke of his time on Robben Island as a prisoner during the struggle for freedom. “Even under adverse conditions, prison inmates would study. We would work in the sun with picks and shovels for eight hours, and then spend the night in our cells studying.

“Madiba was always adamant about the importance of education,” Kathrada said, adding, in a message addressed to all young South Africans: “Our country needs skills in every direction. With your freedom, you have a major responsibility to serve yourself and South Africa by investing in education.”


Literacy plays a vital role in the growth and development of any nation, and research has shown that the higher the rate of literacy, the better the potential to succeed.

There is a correlation between income and illiteracy, according to South Africa’s Read Educational Trust, an NGO that specialises in teacher training and the provision of school reading resources.

Data on the organisation’s website reveal that the per capita income in countries with a literacy rate of less than 55% averages $600 (R5 000); in countries with a literacy rate between 55% and 84% it averages $2 400; in countries with a literacy rate between 85% and 95% the average is $3 700; and in countries with a literacy rate above 96% it jumps to $12 600.

A high level of literacy can reduce poverty and crime, contribute to economic growth, and improve the quality of life because people, when they can read information regarding HIV/Aids and other social issues, are able to make informed choices and feel more confident about themselves. This, in turn, could relieve the burden on the government in terms of the public health system, for instance.