Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, will speak in Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall on Oct. 12.

October 2, 2018

Grandson of Nelson Mandela to Speak on 100th Anniversary of Revolutionary’s Birth

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Drawing lessons directly from the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, Ndaba Mandela will speak at 5 p.m. on Oct. 12 in Kennedy Hall’s Call Auditorium to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his grandfather Nelson Mandela’s birth.

Zachary J. Shulman ’87, J.D. ’90, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell, said that attendees of

the event can expect to learn about Ndaba’s efforts to promote economic development in Africa through entrepreneurship.

Shulman said that Ndaba will also speak about his desire to partner with programs and institutions outside of Africa, such as Cornell University.

“He’s clearly going to bring a lot of energy and excitement,” Shulman said. “He will bring this perspective about Africa that many of our students are not familiar with, and it is important for people to understand what a developing nation is and how it develops through grassroots entrepreneurial efforts.”

Ndaba recently published Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, chronicling Nelson Mandela’s life through the eyes of his grandson, and exploring his experience of learning from one of the world’s most celebrated historical leaders. 

“The book really is about life lessons that Ndaba learned from his grandfather, and it is interesting to get those lessons through the lens of a 30-year-old as opposed to an 80-year-old,” Shulman said. “That is more relevant, perhaps, for our students because Ndaba is more of a contemporary to them.”

He said that Ndaba’s entrepreneurial perspective, stemming from his work in a developing nation, will help students get thinking deeply about the economic disparities that exist within the United States.

“The message of Nelson Mandela, which I think Ndaba fully believes in, is more about everyone pitching together for social good,” Shulman said. “Everyone pitching together for the common good really can raise a country, and a lot of people around world share that message.”

Prof. Muna Ndulo, law, director for Cornell’s Institute for African Development, said that when Nelson Mandela came out of prison, he raised Ndaba like his own child and “more-or-less set him on the right path” by teaching him important values such as empathy and integrity.

Through his foundation Africa Rising, Ndaba is trying to promote the values which his grandfather stood for.     

“He has used his standing and what he learned from [Nelson Mandela] to promote entrepreneurship among young people to give them hope — especially in the context of South Africa,” Ndulo told The Sun.

Ndulo said that Nelson Mandela’s dignity, which was seen mostly prominently when he came out of 27 years in prison, will be channeled to the students through his grandson’s speech. 

“Cornell students can play a leadership role in the world,” Ndulo said. “They can go out there and do good in terms of really meeting the challenges that we face.”

Ndulo concluded by stating that Ndaba’s connection to entrepreneurship is critical, because he is demonstrating how we can leverage the economy in ways that contribute to the common good.

“He doesn’t want his grandfather’s message to be lost,” Ndulo said. “He is connecting it to entrepreneurship which is critical, because entrepreneurship is the way to create wealth and a way to tackle poverty.”