MEMORIES OF DIVISION, MEMORIES OF RECONCILIATION. A reading of a life in Mandela’s "Long Walk to Freedom"


  • Michael Chapman


How can memories of division as have characterised modernity in South Africa turn towards memories of reconciliation? The difficulty is captured in Benedict Anderson’s apparent paradox: that the nation, if it is to cohere, has to know not only what to remember, but also what to forget. A reading of Mandela’s life in his autobiography illustrates the challenge.


Author Biography

Michael Chapman

Michael Chapman is professor of English and Head of the School of Literary Studies, Media and Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. His numerous publications include the literary 560-page history Southern African Literatures (1996; 2003) and, most recently, the collection of essays, Art Talk, Politics Talk (2006). This article is an abridged version of his keynote address at the symposium on ‘Memories of Modernity’ held in Durban in November 2006.