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Sunday Times Alan Paton Award: Tymon Smith Interviews Jay Naidoo

Fighting for JusticeJay Naidoo’s memoir, Fighting for Justice, is shortlisted for this year’s Alan Paton Award. The Sunday Times books editor, Tymon Smith, asks him about his book:

What made you decide to write a memoir?

After a lifetime in politics, including serving five years in the Mandela cabinet, I felt I needed to close a chapter in my life. I never intended to publish, but my wife, Lucie Page, a writer and journalist, convinced me that I had a story to tell and lessons to be shared both personal and political.

You’ve been a social activist for most of your life. Do you see the writing of the memoir as a means of sending a message and, if so, what is the message and who do you hope is hearing it?

Our struggle for freedom was a struggle for social justice, human dignity and freedom from poverty and inequality. These are the same winds of change that drove the revolutions of the Arab Spring we see across North Africa and the Middle East. There are many lessons to be shared. But each country and generation has to find its own path. I was in Egypt recently for discussions on democratic transition. We have many experiences that people appreciate. Transition is always a dangerous period and there is rarely one big-bang transition but a multiple series of transitions that stabilise the process.

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