In all that's been said and written these past few days about South African writer Nadine Gordimer, who passed away July 13th at the ripe old age of 90, it's the words of her fellow anti-Apartheid activist, human rights lawyer and friend George Bizos which hold particular significance for me. Said Bizos, Gordimer's passing reminds him that, one of these days, the bell shall toll for him, too. Poignant words, for I'm reminded, not only that none of us is immortal, but that the old guard who propped us up, gave us our voice and provided us our guiding light will soon be no more - with their passing, what men and women of substance will stand up and take their place? 

Nadine Gordimer stamp, part of a set issued 
in honour of South Africa's Nobel Laureates, 1996

Brief Timeline of her Literary Life
  • 1923 - Born: Springs in the then-Transvaal, South Africa
  • 1937 - First short stories for children published in South African magazines
  • 1951 - International exposure when first short story for adults published in the NEW YORKER magazine
  • 1953 - First novel, 'The Lying Days', published
  • 1966 - 'The Late Bourgeois World' published and subsequently banned in South Africa
  • 1974 - Wins the Booker Prize for 'The Conservationist'
  • 1979 - 'Burger's Daughter' published and subsequently banned in South Africa
  • 1981 - 'July's People' published and subsequently banned in South Africa
  • 1991 - Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
  • 1998 - Rejects shortlisting for the Baileys' Women's Prize for Fiction on the grounds it discriminates against male authors
  • 2002 - Wins the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Fiction for 'The Pickup'
  • 2012 - Last novel, 'No Time Like the Present', published
  • 2014 - Dies: Johannesburg, South Africa, just seven months after close friend Nelson Mandela

Her Words Live On
Gordimer may no longer be with us, but she leaves us a vast literary legacy - fifteen novels and twenty-one short story collections, but also essays, commentaries and a stage play. Her achievements are many - both in a literary and sociopolitical sense - including being one of eleven South African-born Nobel Laureates and editing her friend Nelson Mandela's iconic 'I Am Prepared to Die' speech (which he delivered from the dock at the Rivonia Treason Trial). May her spirit inspire us all to stand up for what's just, to fight for what's right and to give of our best in all that we do!

How about infusing some of Gordimer's and Madiba's irrepressible passion for South Africa into your everyday life? Start with doing 67 minutes this Mandela Day, Friday 18 July? Read more...