18 July 2013

A STROLL WITH NDABA MANDELA (For Nelson Mandela International Day)

“During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” ~Nelson Mandela

Image Credit: theeye

First of all, I’d like to say Happy Birthday to Rolihlahla, Madiba, and every other special name they call you around the world. . . Get well soon!

Welcome to THE STROLL my name is Ebenezar. On today’s episode we celebrate the greatest symbol of peace and equality on earth! I grew up watching movies about him, hearing his musical eulogies play on the stereo, and though I was only two years old when he made history by becoming the first black president of South Africa, his life and story is still an inspiration to me, and will remain an inspiration to anyone that will ever live on planet earth!

If you’ve been following the news you’d understand that Mr. Mandela is a bit down in the hospital right now and is not physically fit to have a stroll with me today (Yeah, sad) But not too worry, I’ve got a perfect replacement; someone that has the Mandela blood running in his veins—and I literally mean that—(hehe)

My guest on the stroll today is Madiba’s second-eldest grandson, Ndaba Mandela. He holds a Bachelors degree in political science and international relations from the University of Pretoria, and the foundation he co-founded, ‘The Africa Rising Foundation’ illuminates the same love for Africa that his grandfather has, and also displayed in his early years. We talked about what it feels like to be a Mandela, his dreams, and the future of African leadership. For Nelson Mandela International Day 2013, here is my stroll 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.

Image Credit: mandela.is

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) 

Image Credit: zimbio
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

Image Credit: Ndaba Mandela
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….

Image Credit: Ndaba Mandela
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.

For more about Ndaba(@NdabaMandela) and his Africa Rising foundation, you can visit their website here

I started the stroll today by quoting Nelson Mandela’s words in that court room back in 1964 when he was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of attempting to overthrow the Government. Those words inspire me a lot.

They get me thinking; Do we still have leaders that have set ideals in their mind to die for the good of the people they are representing and not their selfish interest? Or these days all we have are dictators that stay in power for decades—ignoring a 3-year civil war in their country and the 5000 lives that are lost every month—and legislators that exchange blows instead of ideas, and smash each other’s heads with a maze just to protect their selfish political interest. . .it’s just sad!

We really need leaders like Nelson Mandela that will have the people and nothing but the people at heart. God bless you for being a great man Madiba! Once again happy birthday and get well soon! I’d also like to send a birthday shout out to a writer I admire so much, write paragraphs’ own Mary Ajayi. Happy birthday in advance girl, welcome to the tweenagers club—as you get inducted on July 20—(haha) Have fun and keep writing!

Don’t forget to pledge your 67 minutes guys, visit Mandela.is or mandeladay.com. Till my next stroll, be good . . . Jesus loves you!

Ebenezar Wikina (@EbenezarWikina)
JULY 2013

All Rights Reserved


  1. Great read. Thank you, Ebenezer; you're doing a great job.

  2. 'We shall and we have already begun'. There's so much to do, we have started and we will keep on. Great Words Ndaba, great stroll Ebenezar. The world will one day celebrate you. Also, thanks for the birthday shout out. Lots of love.

  3. "We shall & we have already begun". I'm loving that guy already.

  4. This is one of my best so far...I love it

  5. Plus i'm registering on mandela.is right away

    happy Birthday to Madiba

    NOT BEFORE THE FLASHBULB CREW (for Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on his birthday)

    Madiba, my eyes remain dry, my lips yet un-tense
    Yes, I have not shed a tear (I hope that makes sense)
    Since the many lips started wagging in anticipation
    Eyes shedding false tears, mine I held in constipation.

    Should I have wept that the iroko shook in a breeze?
    My tears should not for that seek undue release
    Yes, the mighty iroko that ruled the forest for decades
    Deserves a gentle shake... and rest under oak shades.

    The kernel of Africa inside me knew. Yes, I knew
    Madiba would not bow out before the flashbulb crew
    Vultures worshiping the gods of the color screens
    Hungry hawks with inky claws, awaiting wailing sirens!

    Madiba, cut your cake...the vultures Can Not Negate
    Yes, pour wine - Bored Bleeding Cameras can wait
    We, your children, will dance to the song of your voice
    Let the other ones fondle the breasts of their toys!

  6. kolajo Oladele18 July 2013 at 22:52

    Ebenezar,this is a great stroll in a great land of Madiba.The person of Madiba is a rare gem and good to know the grand son know the stake is high for them too.Happy birthday Mandela, happy Mandela day

  7. Quite inspiring. Madiba was a great leader, and I also strongly believe, like his grandson has said, that the journey to greatness by our own generation has already begun.

  8. We lost more than a man, we lost a generation. The youth must get busy