The 10th annual SouthArk Lecture Seriesbagan on Tuesday, September 22, when Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela, spoke at the El Dorado Conference Center at 7:00 p.m. His speech was entitled “From Prisoner to President: The Mandela Legacy Lives On.”
His grandfather is best known for his important role in the elimination of the apartheid system in South Africa, a system of racial segregation imposed by the minority white government on the black population from 1948 to 1994. For his anti-apartheid activities, he served 27 years in prison. After his release in 1990, he negotiated an end to apartheid and was elected the first black president of South Africa, serving in that office until 1999. He died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. His grandson, now 32 years of age, is a resident of Johannesburg, South Africa, For his speech in El Dorado, Mr. Mandela will fly from his home in South Africa to Arkansas on the first leg of a tour that will take him to the Central Park Global Poverty concert in New York City as well as to several mid-western universities for other speaking engagements.
In his speech, Ndaba will describe what it was like to first meet his iconic grandfather at age 11 when Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison – and then live with him in the Presidential Palace shortly thereafter. He will also relate the inspiring, and often amusing, anecdotes told to him directly from his doting grandfather, allowing the audience to peek through the keyholes of the Presidential Palace, where he “saw him interact with kings and presidents, and with our household cook. He treated everyone the same. This was his key value.” These lessons and values were learned well and are practiced today by Ndaba who has founded with his cousin Kweku “Africa Rising,” a non-profit organization dedicated to publicizing a positive image of Africa to the world through films, media and social interaction in order to change the mindset of young Africans. He has also started the "Mandela Project" – a social hub created to give back to the community with the support of the same media experts responsible for Lady Gaga’s networks.
Born in the Soweto neighborhood of Johannesburg on December 19, 1982, Ndaba moved with his family soon after to the Eastern Cape, where he spent the first years of life in a small town called Cofimvaba. After finishing the second grade, Ndaba moved to Durban, where he stayed with the Sisulu family and other relatives. Before he could settle in, he moved back to Johannesburg with his father, where he had to repeat the second grade due to the lack of English being spoken in the Eastern Cape. Continuing with his studies, he received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pretoria in 2008, majoring in political science and international relations.
Shortly after that, he joined the Embassy of Japan in Pretoria, working as a political consultant, focused mainly on South Africa. While working at the embassy, he was chosen to represent his country in a business leadership and entrepreneurship program in Jordan, organized by the Queen Rania Centre for Entrepreneurship in association with the Ahl Ali Group of Dubai. He then joined Investec Asset Management, getting exposure to their asset management business before joining the business development area working as a client liaison officer in the client services area. After a year he left to pursue his socio-economic development ambitions by dedicating his time to the Africa Rising Foundation.
In his spare time, he also enjoys speaking engagements, talking about the Mandela Legacy, and motivating youth to know more about their origins and getting involved in community development. On the lighter side of life, he enjoys listening to music and hanging out with friends and family during leisure time. He believes that one should always keep an open mind and when the opportunity presents itself try something new, because you just might like it.
After his speech at South Arkansas Community College, he took questions from the audience. Following the program, he greeted well-wishers one-on-one. The lecture was open to the public and free of charge.