272pp., b/w & colour illus., paperback, Johannesburg, 2022
"Bookended by two unspeakable tragedies, the suicide of a mother and of a son, Letters to my Mother offers one of the most compelling accounts yet of the making of an anti-apartheid activist. Beautifully composed and hauntingly familiar, Kumi Naidoo's book reveals how the South African struggle prepared one of our most courageous fighters for activist leadership on a global stage, first as executive director of Greenpeace International and then as Secretary General of Amnesty International. Kumi's story is not simply an account of a remarkable life in which studies and struggle are the same thing; it is a call to action in troubled times. Gripping, challenging and deeply moving, I finished this gift of a book in one sitting." Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of Stellenbosch
"... an honest and moving account of an activist in a time of personal and political turmoil, revealing how the two overlap, interact and then shape us from the earliest years of our lives. it also shows how the building blocks of effective and principled social justice activism are - and should always be - in community, family and love. His last letter to his mother, written in June 2022, left me in tears, but I was also energised by Kumi's commitment that as the struggle to save humanity enters a critical decade 'we must appeal to people's hearts as well as their heads, bringing together arts, culture and activism in a new kind of 'artivism' that engages people's deepest impulses towards love, justice and freedom.' As we rethink and retool activism to meet unprecedented and existential challenges, this book is essential reading." Mark Heywood, editor of Maverick Citizen and Adjunct Professor, University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance
Kumi Naidoo was born in 1965 and grew up in Chatsworth, a formerly Indian township in Durban created by the apartheid government in the 1950s. He was a community organiser and underground ANC activist in the 1970s and 1980s. He served as International Executive Director of Greenpeace International (2009 - 2016) and Secretary General of Amnesty International (2018 -2020), and is currently Global Ambassador for Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity. He is a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy; Professor of Practice at Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University, a visiting fellow at Oxford University and an honorary fellow at Magdalen College.