On-line version ISSN 2309-9003
Yesterday Today n.5 Vanderbijlpark Jan. 2010
Rabble Rouser for peace
Mrs. Grosvenor Girls' High School. Durban. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Random House, 2006. ISBN 9781844135714) John Allen
This authorized biography of Desmond Tutu will make a valuable addition to any history educator's library. It is an engaging read which provides a number of sources on events in South Africa suitable for use in Gr11 and Gr 12 lessons and examination papers. While the writer does give a detailed account of the role played by Tutu in the Anglican Church and the SACC, he also deals with the historical context in which these events took place. As I read the book, I found myself jotting down page numbers of useful sources on topics as varied as forced removals from Sophiatown and African nationalism. The chapter of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has a wealth of primary material.
John Allen has included many poignant stories of the Tutu family which learners will enjoy. For example, when Desmond and Leah Tutu were in Trafalgar Square, London, they were "intoxicated" that "a police officer did not come across and ask for your pass." At the age of four, Mpho Tutu described herself as a "non-white European."
As a journalist and Tutu's press secretary for 13 years, John Allen has ably explored contemporary South African history and given a warm and thought-provoking picture of one of the truly great men of our time.