Apartheid and making of black psychologist

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by Chabani Manganyi

This intriguing memoir details in a quiet and restrained manner what it meant to be a committed black intellectual activist during the apartheid years and beyond. Few autobiographies exploring the ‘life of the mind’ and the ‘history of ideas’ have come out of South Africa, and N Chabani Manganyi’s reflections on a life engaged with ideas, the psychological and philosophical workings of the mind and the act of writing are a refreshing addition to the genre of life writing. Starting with his rural upbringing in Mavambe in Limpopo province in the 1940s, Manganyi’s life story unfolds at a gentle pace, tracing the twists and turns of his journey from humble beginnings to Yale University in the USA. The author details his work as a clinical practitioner and researcher, as a biographer, as an expert witness in defence of opponents of the apartheid regime and, finally, as a leading educationist in Mandela’s Cabinet and in the South African academy.