Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist

A Memoir

228 pages

May, 2016

ISBN: 9781868148622



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N Chabani Manganyi is a clinical psychologist, writer, theorist and critic of biography. He served as Director-General in the Department of Education from 1994-1999 and was Vice-Principal of the University of Pretoria from 2003-2006.

Manganyi’s life story traces the twists and turns of his journey from humble beginnings in Limpopo, to Yale University. 

This intriguing memoir details in a quiet and restrained manner with what it meant to be a committed black intellectual activist during the apartheid years and beyond. Few autobiographies exploring the 'life of the mind' and the 'history of ideas' have come out of South Africa, and N Chabani Manganyi's reflections on a life engaged with ideas, the psychological and philosophical workings of the mind and the act of writing are a refreshing addition to the genre of life writing. Starting with his rural upbringing in Mavambe, Limpopo, in the 1940s, Manganyi's life story unfolds at a gentle pace, tracing the twists and turns of his journey from humble beginnings to Yale University in the USA. The author details his work as a clinical practitioner and researcher, as a biographer, as an expert witness in defence of opponents of the apartheid regime and, finally, as a leading educationist in Mandela's Cabinet and in the South African academy. Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist is a book about relationships and the fruits of intellectual and creative labour. Manganyi describes how he used his skills as a clinical psychologist to explore lives - both those of the subjects of his biographies and those of the accused for whom he testified in mitigation; his aim always to find a higher purpose and a higher self.