10 South African Biographies You Should Know

South African is filled with people who built a legacy and a name, however you haven’t lived a worthy life if it’s not worth putting into a book to share with the world. Biographies are written for different reasons, whether be it to inspire others or uncover a story about a certain person.

The list below therefore high lights the top 10 South African biographies worth reading. Obviously not everyone reads everything, but the list has something for everyone.

1.The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter by Albie Sachs

Albie Sachs, an activist South African lawyer and a leading member of the ANC, was car-bombed in Maputo, by agents of South Africa’s security forces leaving him scared for life with his right arm blown off and lost the sight of one eye. This book gives an account of his gradual recovery and his second attempt of entry into the world.

It also captures the spirit of a remarkable man – his enormous optimism, his commitment to social justice, and his joyous wonder at the life that surrounds him. In a new epilogue, Sachs gives a gripping insider’s view of the major public events of the last decade-the election of Nelson Mandela, the formation of the Constitutional Court and Sachs’s appointment as judge, and his own role with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

2.  Sometimes There Is a Void by Zakes Mda

Zanemvula Mda was born in 1948 into a family of lawyers and grew up in Soweto’s ambitious educated black class. At age fifteen he crossed the Telle River from South Africa into Lesotho, exiled like his father. Exile was hard, but it was just another chapter in Mda’s coming-of-age.

He served as an altar boy and was molested by priests, flirted with shebeen girls, feared the racist Boers, read comic books alongside the literature of the PAC and wrote his first stories to fill the void at the heart of things that makes him an outsider wherever he goes.

In all this, Mda struggled to remain his own man, and with Sometimes There Is a Void he shows that independence opened the way for the stories of individual South Africans in all their variety.