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The Mandela Legacy: My Interview With Ndaba Mandela

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The legacy of late Nelson Mandela and his footprints on the sands of time will surely not wipe off in my lifetime; and also not in the lifetime of my children, and the children of their children.

July 18th is Nelson Mandela International Day on the UN calendar of observances, and as part my own contribution to promote this day among the online community, I had a stroll with Ndaba Mandela, Madiba's second eldest grandson, the man book makers have dubbed the next Mandela.

Ndaba is the founder of Africa Rising Foundation; whose aim is to uplift the image of Africa around the world and engage Africans in the diaspora with development opportunities on continent.

In course of our stroll, Ndaba shared his story, his dreams, his hope for a better Africa, and his relationship with his Grand pa. Here's my conversation with Ndaba;

Ebenezar: Thank you so much for having this stroll with me, Mr. Ndaba.

Ndaba: Thank you too, Ebenezar.

Ebenezar: Okay, before we go on, I'd like to know, what does it feel like to be a Mandela? Is it a very demanding surname?

Ndaba: It feels good, but it can also come with a lot of pressure, people like to compare us to our grand dad. It comes with pros and cons like everyone who is related to a famous family or carries a famous family name. Luckily our grandfather has never tried to steer us in a certain direction, but to pursue education in anything we do. He emphasizes that it is still very important for us to have degrees, which most of us grandchildren actually have. Being a Mandela, people automatically put you in a certain category of society, they think we are rich, well to do, and everything comes easy... which is not true, we can open doors easily but we don't get things easy! We have to prove ourselves like everyone else more so because, we are who we are.

Ebenezar: I'm very sure you and your cousins are extremely proud of your grand pa. Do his achievements spur you to dream bigger every day?

Ndaba: He is definitely one of our greatest inspirations. That is exactly what he has taught us; to always believe in our dreams, never give up, and do what it takes to get there. He also taught us to remember that success takes time and a lot of dedication.

Ebenezar: That's very true. You and Kweku, your cousin, launched Mandela.is for supporters of your grand dad to inspire them to change the world the way he did. How has the response been so far?

Ndaba: So far the response has been good. In just a few weeks we already have more than 400 people who have joined and subscribed from around the world. Hopefully it will continue to grow

Ebenezar: Now, let's talk about you a bit, what was growing up like for you?

Ndaba: I grew up with my grandma in the Transkei, a small town called Cofimvaba. She was a Jehovah's Witness, so very religious and strict and we read the bible twice a day; in the morning before breakfast and evening before dinner. I was quite spoilt and didn't have too many chores to do because my older cousins did most of the chores. (hahaha)

Ebenezar: (haha) Okay?

Ndaba: Yeah, she had a grocery store so we were well fed. Then I moved to stay with the Sisulu's in KZn, and after that moved to Soweto with my dad and mom. We were poor at this stage and not well fed, although my father always tried his best and did what he could to give us the basics. Luckily staying in Soweto--which had a sense of community--we were able to get by through the support of our neighbours, relatives etc.

Ebenezar: Whao! Nobody would have known that, those were trying times I must say. Okay, as part of the team that established the International Day of Happiness, which is now recognized by the UN , what is your own recipe for happiness in life?

Ndaba: Happiness is what makes one feel safe and comfortable, it brings joy and laughter. For me it's being with my son . . . my family is the most important thing to me followed by people I consider to have a positive effect on my life. So my recipe would be; being in the company of loved ones, listening to music, exchanging our ideas and views on life, love and politics . . . and of course having fun (smiles)

Ebenezar: (hahaha) yeah sure. I saw your TED talk 'Why Africa Rising', and it was really great. For people that hadn't seen it, why did you start the Africa Rising Foundation?

Ndaba: I started it because I was tired of people outside our continent not seeing the real picture of Africa, and always believing in the stereotypes that are perpetuated in the media. That Africa is poor, disease ridden, war stricken, and a dictator-ran continent in dire need of charity. I am not trying to deny any of these things, but there is far more to our great continent than what we see in the media. I want people to know that if Africa stopped trading with the outside world for one day, the world would stop!

Ebenezar: Yeah, that's a very strong point I must say.

Ndaba: Yeah, I want Africans to see the potential they have and be able to maximize it into a force for good. Totally transforming our selves from a consumer-driven economy to an entrepreneur-led economy. Africans are natural entrepreneurs because of what we have had to endure in our past, and you know that the majority of our people wake up every day not sure that they will be well fed that day. They have to go out there and make it happen one way or another, and so for example you have a family man who has to make two hundred rands (R200) a day, and he does it for many years . . . every single day!

Ebenezar: That is a lot of work. . .

Ndaba: Exactly! So imagine if that potential is harnessed, the possibilities are endless. Africa can and will control her own destiny on her own terms, and when we unite, the world will be scared of what we can achieve and that is why there are so many forces in our continent making sure this never happens. But today there are more Africans in Africa and abroad working towards this same vision and sooner or later, all like-minded people shall unite and cause real positive change!

Ebenezar: Yeah, I believe in that too, and I can't wait for that time to came. Finally, do you think our generation will produce people that will rise up to fill the shoes of Wangari Maathai, your grand dad (Madiba), Wole Soyinka, and all these other great African heroes?

Ndaba: We shall and we have already begun....

Ebenezar: (Hahaha) . . . great answer! Thank you so much for your time Mr. Ndaba.

Ndaba: It was a pleasure, Ebenezar.

Ebenezar: I wish you success in all your projects, and I hope we get to stroll again some other time.

Ndaba: Haha . . . Thank you.

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