South Africa

Unspotted: One Man's Obsessive Search for Africa's Most Elusive Leopard by Justin Fox

Unspotted: One Man’s Obsessive Search for Africa’s Most Elusive Leopard by Justin Fox

Review by Vijaya Raghava

Unspotted is an easy one hour read that gives you glimpses of the ‘Mystical Cape Mountain Leopard’. Mystical because the people of Cape Town know they exist but no one has ever really spotted them. Make an exception to that. Quinton Martins has been studying about these beautiful creatures for over a decade and making efforts to reduce human-animal conflict. He also founded Cape Leopard Trust to further this effort. The author travels to Cape Town to meet Quinton and have a sighting of the leopards. In this book, he gives first hand account of Quinton’s efforts. The book is written in a very informal tone and it rather feels like reading a blog. While I enjoyed reading this book, being uninitiated in South Africa’s geography, I spent a lot of time on the internet trying to learn more about the places the author was trying to describe.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Review by Shridhara K T

Finally I have finished reading; it was a long read! I am talking autobiography of a great leader world has seen so far – ‘LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’ by Nelson Mandela and the role of ‘freedom’ throughout his life!

The book has a fascinating childhood story of a South African child, youthful life of a law student, heart touching story of an oppressed man, patriotic story of a freedom fighter, a sad but thrilling story of a prisoner, a leader who succeeded in his goal and a perfect love story which shows how important trust and sacrifices are in life.

As I was going through this masterpiece, I started seeing Mandela as the mixture of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Subash Chandra Bose, for he believed that while fighting you should change your mode in accordance with what your enemy chooses. He started with non-violence but then strongly felt that an army is necessary to fight the enemy and started building it, but when the government was ready for the talks he switched his gears and convinced ANC that they stop armed struggle. This shows the adaptability a leader should have. No matter what ones principles are, one should side step if the situation demands so.

A funny thing happened when I was going through his life in prison: I found many similarities between a prison and a hostel. Yes, you read that right! The routine life in hostel makes one forget about the time and outer world. The wardens make the rule and students are reluctant to follow it, officials would come and listen to the problems but there is a very little change after that. Students give nick names to wardens and other officials, students try to break out of the campus, having a visitor excites you! In hostel, the only thing worse than bad news is no news at all. It is always harder to cope with the disasters and tragedies one imagines than with the reality, however grim or disagreeable. A letter with ill findings was always preferable to no letter at all! (Now replace students by inmates, hostel by prison and read again!!

According to me the best take away of the book is that lot of leadership qualities have been discussed with real life situations. I would like to share some of the quotes from the book here:

‘As a leader one sometimes takes actions that are unpopular or who’s results will not be known for years to come’
‘Experience is the foundation of leadership and that obligations to the people take precedence over loyalty to an individual’
‘Sometimes there is nothing one can do to save something that must die’
“Exercise is a key not only to physical health but to peace of mind”
‘Truly to lead one’s people one must truly know them’
‘There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people right way’
‘Sometimes it is necessary to present one’s colleagues with a policy. Fact is already a fiat accompli’*
It also has a message for the mass “Do not expect to be driving a Mercedes or swimming in your own backyard pool the day after the election ….”

Finally he concludes saying “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more to climb. I have taken to rest to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended”.

All we need to know is “The darkest hour is before the dawn.” I truly enjoyed reading it and LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’ goes to shelf as one of my favorites.

* Fiat accompli = fact accomplished.