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07 Feb 2003 11:55
Elinor Sisulu’s biography, Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime (David Philip), must have been a difficult book to write — especially as she is their daughter-in-law. It covers two people over so long a period — in the case of Walter Sisulu, the entire period of the existence of the African National Congress.
How does one author acquire sufficient familiarity with all of these periods to do justice to the Sisulu couple in every phase? What also worried me was whether the political pre-eminence of Walter Sisulu would make a joint biography of the couple unequal, with Albertina treated as a footnote to her “major partner”.How Elinor Sisulu resolves these questions is not through analysis, for the book is a chronological narrative divided by very broad themes. Raymond Suttner is the author of Inside Apartheid’s Prison (University of Natal Press) and has recently edited Ray Alexander Simons’s autobiography, to be published by STE later this year.
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