The Rainbow People of God by Desmond Tutu
This is one of those immensely valuable books which allow you to understand a period of recent history through the words of one who was there. From the Cold War to the end of apartheid, the key events of the 1960s to the 1980s are often not well covered by popular history books or lessons at school, as there are many people still alive who lived through the events in question.
However, my generation was either not alive or too small to understand what was going on when apartheid was dismantled in South Africa in 1991, and this book is one of the best introductions I have found to understand the background to apartheid and how it was conquered.
Desmond Tutu’s speeches and letters are put in context with useful commentary which allowed me to understand the issues he was addressing on each occasion.
Now I can quote his speeches with confidence, knowing not just what he said but inspired by the wisdom of his broader argument – that since we are all made in the image of God, we will demand to be treated justly as real people, without discrimination, but we refuse to hate the oppressors because they are also made in the image of God. It’s a liberating message, but also one which allowed for a (mostly) peaceful transition, as apartheid was propped up by fear that if power was shared, there would be bloody retribution against the former oppressors.
What to Read Next:
- Inspiring People: I Am Malala – A voice for global education and a spirited campaigner, Malala Yousafzai is a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner.
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapis – a graphic novel set in Iran during the revolution
- The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis – a good overview of not just what happened between 1945 and 1989, but why. Essential reading for anyone concerned about the replacement of Trident.