Going to the mountains, an exchange with Ndaba Mandela.


        ndaba mandela

"Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better". Albert Camus.

Our current interviewee is a social activist who comes to us from South Africa. Ndaba Mandela is the grandson of the late Nelson Mandela, and today he tells us more about his lifestyle and the lessons he learnt from his grandfather. The author teaches us not only through this interview but also in his autobiography going back to the mountains.  Through the manner in which Ndaba depicts his acquaintance with the titan Nelson Mandela, we get a more profound insight on the Mandela family. He shines a light onto Madiba, the typical African grandfather who would through ambiguous ways of wisdom bring forth the best in his family. The book entails the life of Ndaba Mandela in his younger years and the transitions that followed when he was moved from his parents’ house to Nelson Mandela’s mansion. With a panoply of funny anecdotes, proverbs and lessons, the book swoops us into South Africa’s early post apartheid regime. Having a grandfather as the president of a nation, we see through the author’s eyes his struggle to become the wise man his grandfather wanted him to be when all he wanted was to party like other kids his age. His presents us with the stepping stones that made him the man that he is today. 

Q: Mr Mandela; you grew up with one of the most honorable men of all time. The book that you wrote is filled with culture, love, and aspirations to greatness, all inspired by Madiba’s influence on you. Tell us what prompted you to share your story? What is the main message that you hope will stay with your readers?

 I wrote this book as a dedication to my grandfather for his 100th birthday in 2018. The main thing I wanted to achieve is to show young people who Mandela was. I think young people are beginning to forget who he was and what he stood for. I wanted young people to know the kind of leadership they should aspire to. By writing a book from a perspective of our grandfather as a grandfather and not a president or a revolutionary but a grandfather as most kids can relate to that

Q: You are the cofounder of Africa Rising; tell us more about the movement?

This organisation was started because we were tired of media perpetuating the “old image” of Africa So we decided we needed to do something about that. We felt the best way was to raise the pride and confidence of young people so they can say “I’m an African I know what it means to be an African And I’m proud of it” We do our work in the rural areas of South Africa Namely, Eastern Cape province and Kwazulu-Natal. We do career guidance, Computer programmes, agriculture projects. Anything that can empower young people to break the cycle of poverty. Our aim is to be a catalyst in inspiring a new generation of African leaders to be at the forefront of Africa’s development and not Multi-national Organisations

Q: In your book Going to the Mountains, you mentioned that the first time that you went to see Madiba in prison with your family, he asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, and you said nothing out of fear of being ridiculed. Tell us, what did you want to become when you grow up? How relevant is a child’s dream where you come from?

I actually wanted to go to jail and be like my grandfather. You see, he was kept in isolation in a house that was a little better looking than mine cause there was a swimming pool,l I didn’t have that. I met a chef for the very first time and the food was delicious. We even watched the never ending story so for me this ‘prison” was the place to be. I didn’t understand that they put him there to they break him down mentally to say ‘Mandela denounce your political organisation and your comrades and we will make sure you live the rest of your life in ‘luxury or at least in good condition.

Q: Do you believe your grandfather’s intervention in you and your parents’ life was his way of protecting you from the pain that all the chaos would have caused you? How would you have handled that differently?

Well I think he wanted all of us to get a good education first and foremost.

He definitely wanted me not to deal with some of the challenges my parents or he dealt with. How would I handled not being adopted by him differently? Well I would of grown up like most boys in the hood that’s for sure not necessarily a bad thing but you definitely have more challenges than boys who live in the suburbs for example 

Q: Where do you spend the most time? How do people outside of Africa take part in your organization Africa rising?

I spend most of my time in Johannesburg South Africa, working during the week, I try spend weekends with my kids when I don’t have to travel. I love music. People outside Africa can assist us with funding of course but just as important is with their time and maybe they know someone who can assist us with designing after-school programmes, or maybe they know where we can get old clothes, used computer’s etc 

Q: Are you still as fascinated with politics as you used to be? Have you ever considered running for a political seat in South Africa?

I’m not obsessed with it, I never was but I realised you can have just as much impact working in the NGO space as you can working for government. I have not considered as yet.

Q: What are some objectives you never thought you could accomplish that are now concretized ? What is your best advice on leadership?

I now have an organisation based in NEW York City called “Mandela Institute for Humanity that focuses on

  1. Youth Leadership and leadership activation
  2. Fighting HIV/AIDS
  3. Shaping the African narrative by creating space where Africans from all over can do business ( Coming in 2022)

Leadership is about serving your community not about being the best or being number one. Leaders should be passionate and love the community they work with. They need to have a vison of what they want to accomplish. They need to be humble and reachable. They need to have integrity, be disciplined and full of compassion

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