Africa Is Rising; Rita Ricketts Reflects on an Interview She Had Recently with Nelson Mandela's Grandson, Ndaba Mandela

Article excerpt

Speaking in the European Parliament, Nelson Mandela's grandson Ndaba captivated his audience of politicians, diplomats, journalists and lobbyists. If his manner was mild, his message was anything but. He had not come with a begging bowl, but with an open invitation to likeminded groups to work together with the 'Africa Rising Foundation' Ndaba, with Kweku Mandela, started creating in late 2009. The foundation was set up to create a new legacy and understanding of Africa as a continent, showcasing its tremendous potential and unprecedented growth. It attracted a group of young and progressive Africans from different backgrounds with a vision of establishing a platform that will enable every African living in and outside the African continent to identify with what it means to be an African, focusing on changing the perception of global youth on Africa and working together to help highlight and identify areas for social and economic development. (1)


'South Africa is a country in which one can expect the unexpected. An inspiration for all. What made it possible was the determination of the people of South Africa to work together ... to transform bitter experiences into the binding glue of a rainbow nation.' Kofi Annan

At the time of his retirement as secretary-general of the Commonwealth in 2008, Don McKinnon talked about his hopes for its future. (2) On his wish list for Africa was the continuing development of civil society, education, good governance, food security and economic independence. Top of this list was education. It will be through education of the young, and their parents and carers, that Africa will be delivered, he urged.

   Take young people: nearly half of our Commonwealth is under 25, and
   nearly a quarter is under five. Yet 70 million of our Commonwealth
   children have never seen the inside of a school, and 150 million
   are out of work. Of the out-of-school, two-thirds are girls, living
   in poverty or with AIDS. 'Education is the key to everything. If
   you want to change the world, build a school', said Amartya Sen.
   Education is the key to peace and democratic stability, the key to
   jobs and economic growth ... to good health ... to respect and
   harmony. It is the key to billions of unique human beings
   fulfilling their unique potential. Education is not just a
   development goal it's a fundamental human right." (3)



Nearly four years later, Nelson Mandela's grandson Ndaba Mandela, at the beginning of his career, claims this same imperative. South Africa's population is made up of almost 80 per cent black peoples, but 20 per cent receive no regular elementary education and only 10 per cent have benefited from higher education.

Born in 1983, Ndaba Mandela is a man in a hurry. Unlike John Milton, who lamented his lack of 'bud or blossom', he wants to have something to show for his first three decades. (4) Although his manner is modest and respectful, his training in politics and international relations reveals itself in the way he conceptualises and analyses events and trends. (5) He is well aware, for example, of the advantages and disadvantages of soft power and of China's present march through Africa. (6) Since graduating, he has acted as a political consultant at Japan's embassy in Pretoria and a client liaison officer for Investec (banking industry); he is currently the director and manager of Rebel Soul Entertainment.

But his passion is far from being fulfilled by Hip Hop. His real passion is education: 'this is the way forward'! Inspired by his grandfather's mantra that 'with Freedom comes responsibility', and feeling the pressure to do something concrete, Ndaba started the African Rising Foundation. Well aware that it cannot do very much by itself, the organisation aims to invite other members of civil society, national and international, to participate by bringing technological, managerial and entrepreneurial skills. …