Together we’re strong, the story of Albertina Sisulu

The story of Albertina Sisulu is one of resilience, pliability, striving, and the greatness that the woman accomplished and achieved from her childhood and throughout her life as an adult. Liesl Jobson, through the book: Together we are strong, sets to bring out this historical figure. Liesl Jobson is a writer and musician born in Durban, South Africa. Her work focuses on women’s empowerment and human rights. One such work of hers is the book: Together we are strong. The book’s title shows the themes of unity and hope and how we can overcome tribulations in the presence of these attributes. Alice Toich and Nazli Jacobs did the book’s illustrations and design.

  The book highlights Albertina Sisulu’s achievements through the writer’s diction, illustrations, and metaphors in collaboration with the recurring themes in the book. It brought this in an easy-to-grasp manner, convivial to all age groups. Younger children can find it pleasant to read the entire book, as they embellished it with colorful illustrations that make it easy for a reader to relate and resonate with the real-life characters. They present the history of the freedom fighter in a way that is not too overwhelming to grip. One can learn about history in a palatable manner in just eighteen pages.

Abletina’s strength is portrayed in the book as to have started even before she was born:

…when the baby’s powerful kicks woke her at night

There is extensive symbolism and imagery in the book that spices it up. A reader gets the mental picture of a sunless period—the night/ winter that can represent the dark moments in South Africa’s history and Albetina’s restlessness to overcome such. The book also shows how she has always been up for a task even when the situations deemed it impossible, evidenced by that as a baby, she loved to eat meat before she had teeth!

Be strong little one, winter is gone, be brave little one together we’re strong

The book suggests that hope is closely linked to unity, as conveyed by the book’s title. 

They discuss the effects of colonialism in the book, factors that forced many people to migrate to other cities and from rural to urban settings for reasons such as work or school. The restriction of movement of certain people as well as how African people had to adopt Anglicized names and how they imprisoned freedom advocates. It is clear in the book.  

The book, however, lacks the personal touch of the subject—her story is told through the eyes of a distant observer. A reader does not get to share the subject’s emotions with the turn of each page.

The illustrations are not too easy on the eye. The drawings, although good, are not very attractive to younger readers who are drawn and attracted to reading by pictures. My six-year-old niece can attest to this.

Overall, the book is a good read that sheds light on South African history and is a thumbs up from me.

Charlotte Chitambo

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