Ndaba Mandela spoke to more than 500 students, faculty and community members Monday, detailing his upbringing, problems that plague Africa today and the work he is doing to combat them.
Mandela, the grandson of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, was the keynote speaker for the 2015 William K. McInally Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Ross School of Business and the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, and held in the Blau Auditorium at the Business School.
He referenced Martin Luther King, Jr. several times, beginning and ending his lecture with excerpts from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Mandela championed progress and social equality throughout his lecture, emphasizing the struggle of the African people.
“The American Dream is pervading every part of society across the world but we, as Africans, do not want the American Dream, we want the African Dream,” Mandela said.
He said his experiences abroad motivated him to form his own non-governmental organization, Africa Rising, to spread awareness about African culture and society.
“We see ourselves creating a new breed of young Africans that will empower themselves to develop the continent from within, raising the pride and the confidence of young Africans,” he said. “So that when they travel, when they engage with travelers that have come to visit us, that they will talk about Africa with a certain pride and confidence.”
Africa Rising strives to educate and empower young Africans, contribute to the development of Africa and spread awareness to those outside the continent.
The organization is currently working to develop a resource center in the small village where Mandela’s grandfather was raised. The center, which plans to house a library and technology center, is slated to educate African children so that they can compete on a global scale.
Mandela said the biggest obstacle South Africa faces is its lack of quality and accessible education.
“The primary barrier that we have in South Africa, and probably across the continent is skills and training,” he said. “We do not have the skills nor the information to service our people, hence we are always working with Europe, with China, etcetera, to get people with skills to come in to service our people.”
Mandela branched beyond Africa’s internal struggles and acknowledged that the fight for racial and economic equality across the world is far from over. He called on students to recognize the sacrifice needed to create social change.
“Some of us have to take public positions, we have to sacrifice, guys,” he said. “That is why we talk about these leaders because they sacrificed everything, including their own families. “My grandfather Nelson Mandela sacrificed his own family to become the man that he became and he will tell you, ‘If I was put in the same position I wouldn’t change anything, I would do it again.’ ”
LSA freshman Taylor Rick was drawn to Mandela’s platform, “The Power of One,” and felt a desire to learn more about Africa.
“People don’t know enough about the problems in Africa so that’s why I came. I’m just not informed,” Rick said. “It has opened my eyes to what I need to do and what I need to learn.”