My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Thandi Lujabe-Ranko, the subject of this fine and authoritative autobiography, which outlines for us, in sometimes uncompromising terms, the journey taken by herself – from the cauldron of apartheid, through various postings in exile to a triumphant return to the native land. A quiet, unassuming though single-minded woman, Thandi represents the best that any country can offer. I urge you to read this book as it will not only inform you but will become one of the most important records of the invincibility of the human spirit.”
These are NOT my words, but I discovered them in the forward of “A Dream Fulfilled.” Imagine my delight when I saw that they’d been written by NELSON MANDELA. Of course, I agree with Mandela’s assessment of this fine book.
In a time when we see ambassadorships cavalierly handed out as rewards to those who merely “bundled” the most money for a presidential election, it is gratifying to see that in the tip of Africa a diplomat received her High Commissioner appointment to represent her nation based solely on merit. And boy, did she earn it: The Hard Way! In reading Ambassador Lujabe-Rankoe’s harrowing story, it becomes evident how difficult her journey was; the personal cost was awful. But in telling her story, the ambassador deservedly indicts the brutal apartheid regime. But she displays generous grace and humor to those that were kind.
Thandi was always destined to serve, but her early ambitions to be a nurse in South Africa were crushed by early activism protesting the apartheid laws. As she became immersed in the freedom struggle, she found herself in danger, and fled her native land. With the threat of death a constant, due to the apartheid regime’s sustained efforts to assassinate the ANC leadership, Thandi (often with a child in tow) was constantly on the move to various destinations in Africa, and even Norway. I was amazed at this formidable woman’s ability to adapt to these new communities, cultures, and societies–yet, at the same time successfully championing all humanities cause.
And that is what finally makes the reading of this book so satisfying: Redemption. After 33 years in exile (and after Mandela’s 27 years of imprisonment), both their dreams were finally fulfilled with Nelson Mandela’s 1994 ascendency to the presidency. And as a fitting reward for her profound contribution to the freedom struggle (not merely based on gratuitous political favors) Ambassador Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe was appointed High Commissioner, with the mandate of representing her first-time free nation to the world. And as ambassador, and knowing so well the countries she was posted (due to her past travels) she served her nation brilliantly.
I strongly recommend this book those who appreciate autobiographies and memoirs, African studies, political science, 20th Century world history, women empowerment, stories of personal courage and sacrifice, and compelling tales of inspiration.