Books to consider as Christmas gifts

Phumlani Majozi on his reading recommendations for the festive season

Christmas is at the door! A week before this special day, you are probably thinking about Christmas gifts for your family members and friends. You may have started shopping already. Amongst the gifts you may be considering, are books. Books are beautiful gifts, especially if you know very well that the people you are buying for love reading books.

This week, I recommend few books you should consider buying as Christmas gifts. Some of these books are by local authors, and some are by foreign authors. There are classic books I would have loved to recommend but getting them before Christmas would be difficult.

When I visited London this last October for the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) conference put together by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, my plan was to buy Johan Norberg’s new book, “The Capitalist Manifesto”, which is basically a defence for global capitalism. I had seen very good reviews about the book online. Even billionaire Elon Musk praised it on X. Elon wrote, “This book is an excellent explanation of why capitalism is not just successful, but morally right, especially chapter 4”. Imagine the mightiest entrepreneur, the richest man in the world, recommending your book to millions of his followers. A big congratulations to Johan!

Johan’s book argues that capitalism remains a better economic system, in contrast to other economic systems He discusses the topics of distribution of capitalism around the world, the obsession over the top 1% by leftists, how China became capitalist, and perhaps most importantly, why Africa remains the poorest continent in the world. Johan backs his solid arguments with astonishing data references. Buy the book as a gift, your relative or friend will be reminded that capitalism is not an evil system.

Mteto Nyati, now chairman of Eskom, is one of South Africa's very successful businessmen. He is one of my favourite South Africans. Very humble. South Africans should know about Mteto’s outstanding achievements. He tells his life story in a book titled “Betting on a Darkie – Lifting the Corporate Game”. It is one of those books that are easy to read, and easy to understand.

You will be moved and touched by the inspiring photos of Mteto’s life that you will see in some of the pages of the book. Its foreword is written by South Africa’s Former President, Thabo Mbeki. In the foreword, President Mbeki writes, “Let us use the example set by Nyati, with him involved, to educate our young people to aim to be our new Mteto Nyatis”. Such a powerful statement.

Nyati’s life story makes a great read for anybody who wants a fresh start in his or her life in the New Year. Get the book please! Your family member or friend will love it.

Greg Mills, one of Africa's famous African politics and economics experts, is back with a new book titled “Rich State, Poor State”. It is one of the fascinating, brand new books, especially for me since I’m obsessed with economics and politics.

Greg has enormous experience on Africa's political and economic research and policy. He has also worked in Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In this new book, Mills examines why some nations are poor, and some rich. His view, presented with clarity, is that it's all about policy choices, and the will to implement the right policies.

Amongst the African nations that Mills argues we can learn something from on good policy choices are Botswana and Mauritius. These countries have outperformed South Africa on numerous metrics over the years.

Mills’ book could well be a book that every policymaker reads in South Africa, where citizens have become poorer over the past decade, and blackouts persist; all because of bad policy choices. Get your copy in bookstores across South Africa. The person you will be buying for will appreciate Greg's spectacular research that springs out of every page of the book.

One of the very important books published this year was Dr. Henry Kissinger's “Leadership - Six Studies in World Strategy”. In this remarkable, very important, sophisticated, book of history, Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State who died last month, profiles six leaders of the 20th century; with whom he worked with and knew personally. These leaders are Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Nixon, Anwar Sadat, Lee Kuan Yew, and Margaret Thatcher.

Kissinger published this book at the age of 100, which was astonishing. Some people are blessed. How do you live to that age and still be intellectually productive and intelligent and be aware of the complex events around you?

While to some Kissinger was a “war criminal”, to others, he was a hero. Whether you admired or abhorred him, his intellectual genius and the strong philosophy on history can't be disputed. He was a Cold War statesman – was US Secretary of State at the height of the Cold War – which was a power struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. The decisions he and the Presidents he served Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford had to make, were very difficult, consequential decisions.

My favourite leaders studied by Kissinger in the book are Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher. A lot of books have been written about these two leaders. However, hearing Kissinger's insights on them was a delight. Whether you hate or admire Kissinger, add the book to the list of your Christmas gifts. It’s a truly fascinating read.

And then you have Dr. Anthea Jeffrey’s “Countdown to Socialism”, published this past August. I reviewed “Countdown to Socialism” on BizNews recently. I enjoyed reading the book because it presents economic and political arguments that you do not hear or see on South Africa’s mainstream media.

With the election coming up next year, it's a book every South African should read before heading to the polls to make the mark. Anthea, who is head of policy research at the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), argues that the African National Congress (ANC) is in the process of the implementation of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) – which is a set of socialist policies. Her arguments are well-crafted and backed with facts.

Whether you'll be convinced by Anthea’s arguments is a question. But you will appreciate the effort put in the book to remind us that the ANC must be out of power now. It’s damaged the country. The book is worth a buy.

Wandile Sihlobo’s new book “A Country of 2 Agricultures” can also make a great read.

Wandile Sihlobo is the most popular agricultural economist in South Africa. The mainstream media consults him often for his insights, and he advises our government as well. He’s passionate about his work.

In his book, Sihlobo studies disparities in South Africa's agricultural sector. The disparities cannot be disputed. The fundamental question at this point, I believe, is how do we create a competitive agricultural market where all farmers thrive? Agricultural land is debated a lot by leftist groups in South Africa. If you want fascinating insights about the state of agriculture in South Africa, then Sihlobo’s book is a good investment.

And then you have the biography of Elon Musk written by the brilliant Walter Isaacson. I must say, the book is a gem. I was not surprised by the quality of its content. Walter has written brilliant biographies before; from Leonardo da Vinci to Steve Jobs, to Kissinger, to Einstein, to Benjamin Franklin. He really is one of the best American biographers out there.

What made me love Walter’s book on Elon Musk, is that it is written in plain English. I dislike writers who write in a language that complicates the understanding of the text. It is annoying to find yourself struggling your way out to understand what the author is saying in the book.

With Elon Musk's biography, it was the first time I had bought and read one of Walter Isaacson's books. I will buy more of his books in future. Love his style of writing.

Elon Musk’s life is a remarkable story - a story that inspires. From South Africa's Gauteng province, to being the world's richest person. It’s a journey whose details will keep you captivated page after page of the text. The book could change the life of the person you will be buying it for as a gift.

I wish I could add economist Thomas Sowell’s new book “Social Justice Fallacies” published this past September as a Christmas gift to consider. But I cannot, unfortunately, because you will not find it in South Africa’s bookstores. You can order it online though, but it will take about 15 days for it to arrive at your door, since it’s a foreign purchase. How about you order it for yourself and read it in the new year. You’ll learn a lot from it. Sowell is a legend.

It’s been an intellectually stimulating year for me, as I was writing my first book, titled “Lessons from Past Heroes”, that is available in bookstores across South Africa.

I recommend you buy my book as well, as a Christmas gift. It's a book I wrote to inspire South Africans. In it, I argue that there are South Africans who did remarkable things before 1994 – a time of racial segregation in South Africa. If these people could succeed in their fields, in the face of a rigged, segregationist system, then what can stop us from being successful in a democratic South Africa? The fact is, there is nothing. We must stop complaining and whining and get to work - make ourselves and South Africa a great country.

Merry Christmas, fellow South African!

Phumlani M. Majozi is author of a new book “Lessons from Past Heroes” and macroeconomic analyst. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.