Mandela’s grandson continues legacy of instituting peace and compassion

In a speech at East Carolina University over the weekend, Mandela challenged students to reach out to others.

Cliff Hollis | ECU News and CommunicationUniversity—Cliff Hollis | ECU News and Communication
Ndaba Mandela speaks before students and faculty at the N.C. Civility Summit held at East Carolina University. (Cliff Hollis - ECU News and Communication)

GREENVILLE — — Ndaba Mandela, a native of South Africa, is walking a path like his grandfather, one that strives to teach peace and compassion, and serves as a call to action to every man and woman.

“It is in our hands to make this world a better place,” said Mandela. “Where do you want to make a difference? I came from a small country in Africa, you may come from a small community. Decide where you want to make a difference, where your passion lies and then you can go and act on that. Do research, go to community to engage, otherwise without action you are just a dreamer. ”

Mandela, grandson of South African politician and philanthropist Nelson Mandela, is co-founder and co-chairman of the Africa Rising Foundation, an organization dedicated to building future leaders. He works to reinforce the notion that one person can make a difference. He was the keynote speaker for the second annual NC Civility Summit hosted by East Carolina University. The day-long summit is geared toward expanding acceptance of all people.

“We must be dedicated to humanity,” said Mandela. “We all have a dream of achieving greatness one day. What makes the best doctor? The best plumber? It is the passion one has. I hope you will understand each of you has greatness within you like Nelson Mandela. You can be the next Mandela of the world.”

Nelson Mandela grew up poverty stricken in South Africa. He went to school for the first time wearing his father’s pants that had been cropped to fit his size. Born with the name “Rolihlahla,” he went to school without an English name.

“His teacher said, ‘What is your English name?’ He said, ‘I don’t have one.’ She replied, ‘You shall be called Nelson,'” said Ndaba Mandela.

Nelson Mandela’s name would later become one recognized by the world over. He served as president of South Africa from 1994-1999 following his release from prison where he served 27 years for his involvement in working to overthrow the state’s white-only government-established apartheid. His fight against the government and later service to his country transformed him into an icon of democracy and social justice. He died in 2013 at age 95.

“We are living in a globalized world,” said his grandson. “We are traveling and working with each other more than ever before. What happens in Russia affects what happens in America and Africa, et cetera. We have a saying in Africa: ‘I am, because you are, because we are.”

He added, “Nothing exists in isolation anymore, it is up to us as global citizens to make sure we kill any prejudice that exists by simply reaching out and having a conversation over lunch with somebody that is different than us. That will make for a better world.”

“With living in a globalized world comes peace and compassion for humanity, he continued.

“My grandfather was a man of great compassion. He had compassion for the people. No matter what you looked like or where you came from, he would treat you with love, respect and dignity, That is what compassion is. In our house, you had Michael Jackson, George Bush and Mike Tyson visiting us, but he treated those people the very same way he treated the lady that cooked for us and the gentleman that cleaned our garden. That is what compassion is. And peace, it begins with inner peace — self peace. If you do not have inner peace, you can never achieve peace outside in your community and in your household,” he added.