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Greatness is inborn. But it is what it makes of the time, place and circumstances with which and in which it develops that it is manifest. Luli Callinicos has done something prodigious. The world that made Mandela is a stunningly fascinating book, on a level high above hagiography, graphic – in both rare photographs and informative text – a fulfilling experience of the exaltation and tragedy by which history, in the hands of  greatness, moves on, and leaves its traces for us to visit in sites and landscapes.  

—Nadine Gordimer

Luli Callinicos, one of South Africa’s most eminent historians, has created an extraordinary documentary of a book in which geography and history blend, and the collective life and image of a nation is focused through the life of one individual.

—Nelson Mandela

Book information

ISBN: 978-1-919855-01-1

Trim size: 290 x 305mm

Binding: Hardcover 

Page count: 342 pages 

Imagery: F/C & B/W photographs 

Cost: R750.00

Genre: Cultural History



Using a thousand images of past and present, The world that made Mandela moves from rural villages to the hectic metropolis; from District Six to Robben Island. Tracing his footsteps through sites of public struggle and private development, it illuminates many hidden spaces in our history while casting new light on the familiar.

South Africans will find The world that made Mandela a rich reflection of their cultural and political heritage, and visitors to the country will discover in it the faces of our past and our people.


Luli Callinicos

Luli Callinicos was born in Johannesburg, of Hellenic descent. She became involved in the struggle for democracy in South Africa at an early age and taught history in schools and the emerging trade union movement. In the late seventies, she began writing her pioneering and award-winning trilogy, Gold and Workers (1981), Working Life (1987) and A Place in the City (1993). Those volumes brought to the South African public, for the first time, the neglected history of ‘ordinary’ South Africans.

The world that made Mandela breaks new ground in South African biography by identifying both the people and the places that shaped the life of a great man. That innovative method draws on her experience as a Council member of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and her involvement in a number of heritage committees and advisory panels for the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. In The world that made Mandela, Luli Callinicos’ command of social history is combined with her deep commitment to conserving the landscape of South Africa’s heritage and celebrating it with the world. Callinicos has also written and published Beyond the Engeli Mountains, the biography of Oliver Tambo, who was the ANC president during its 30 years of exile, as well as a mini-biography, Oliver Tambo: His Life and Legacy.