Jim Wooten, The Penguin Press, 2004
"We are all the same. We are not different from one another. We all belong to one family. We love and we laugh, we hurt and we cry, we live and we die. Care for us and accept us. We are all human beings. We are normal. We have hands. We have feet. We can walk, we can talk--and we have needs just like everyone else. Don't be afraid of us. We are all the same."--Nkosi Johnson, Durban, South Africa.
Today, one in five Africans is Zulu. They are much different from the tribal warrior society chronicled in SHAKA ZULU. After the Colonial Powers assumed power in South Africa, the Zulu were relegated to roles as herdsmen or to subsistence farming. The Colonials built mills and opened mines to take advantage of the natural resources of the tribal lands. The Colonials needed workers, and the Zulu needed work. The problem was location.
Zulu men left their family units to go to where the mines and the mills were located. Long absences broke down the family units. Alcohol and prostitution plagued the men in the company shantytowns that housed them. Women and children grew up in poverty with few providing men around.
The plague that is AIDS infected Nkosi before he was even born. He was sentenced to an early death before he drew his first breath. The ABC News correspondent Jim Wooten got to know this remarkable young man. He has written a journalists' account of this short, but valuable, life. The book carries reviews by Ben Bradlee, David Halberstam, Jim Lehrer, Roger Wilkins, and Bob Woodward.
The story goes beyond Nkosi to include "Mummy Gail." A human being who was touched by the tragedy around her, and who has subordinated her life to doing what governments and arrogance seem to have erased from our collective being.
Frodo learned that his preconceived notions about problems on the other side of his world were dead wrong. Frodo saw that not every ignorant politician is from Texas.
Read this book, Nkosi.
"Nkosi" is Zulu for "Kinsman."
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