Book Review – Jack Simons: Teacher, Scholar, Comrade

by Hugh Macmillan (Jacana) ISBN: 9781431423347

Jacana’s pocket series is truly delightful. These little books have been written to offer a content packed overview of a range of African historical and political topics and are all authored by African thought-leaders. They also fit neatly into a handbag which appeals to the need to adapt traditional paperback reading to modern consumer behaviour and time poverty.

Jack Simons was one of original “A-Team” of the ANC. He worked alongside struggle stalwarts and during the ANC’s golden era including the likes of Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Helen Joseph. Simons was born in 1907, before the formation of the Union in 1910, and he died in 1995, one year after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.  During that life he was a constant critic of racist thinking, an advocate of feminism and a vital role player in the production of the ANC’s Constitutional Guidelines for a post-apartheid South Africa.

I enjoyed this insight into the life of a remarkable man with the courage of his convictions. I greatly appreciate the emotive yet candid incorporation of the light and shade of a man’s life that Macmillan has bravely included in the story. Even heroes are human and Macmillan shows that Simons is no different.

Justine Cullinan

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Posted on: 28th November 2016