Three Questions with Ndaba Mandela

April 1st, 2019

Co-Authored by Dr. Victoria J. Mora, President, United World College-USA

Ndaba Mandela was born with a daunting charge – to follow in the tremendous footsteps of his grandfather, Nelson Mandela. His new memoir, Going to the Mountain, provides an intricate, tender, and surprisingly candid account of what it was like to be raised by his iconic “Granddad.” Ndaba’s upbringing came with privilege, but also with demands that could feel rigid and stifling—and he frequently pushed against the incredibly exacting standards set upon him. Over the years, however, Ndaba grew into the leader that he is today. He now travels the world to spread the Mandela Legacy and help motivate young people to become the change they wish to see in the world. He is the co-founder of the Africa Rising foundation, an organization dedicated to catalyzing a new wave of young Africans who will empower themselves to be at the forefront of Africa’s development. Ndaba was recently named one of the “28 Men of Change” by BET.

I had the extraordinary opportunity to spend time Ndaba Mandela through a partnership with World College, USA. Together, UWC-USA’s President Dr. Victoria J. Mora and I posed these three questions to Ndaba Mandela.


How do we get out from under the weight of our own histories–personal, political–while still learning from that history?

Well the trick is to try and establish yourself outside of what your parents or predecessors have done. This does not mean we have to do something different. However, it’s important we create our own value, our own image and own credibility, basically our own story.



What three habits do you think are crucial to becoming “master of your own destiny”?

In order to be the “master of your own destiny” you have to be doing something you are passionate about. You need to dedicate yourself at least 4 times a week to building your own brand. Your destiny is where you want to see yourself say when you are 50 years old or at least 45years old. Someone said to me once you turn 35 that’s what you become known for. I don’t agree 100%



How do you reconcile progress and cultural traditions? Are they at odds?

No, I don’t believe they are at odds. You can still keep your traditions and have progress in your own life. You can still be a proud African and be a global citizen at the same time. I value my language, my customs, but I’m able to travel to the world and raise awareness for the challenges our people face in our impoverished communities in Eastern Cape. We fundraise so that young people can learn about computers and how they can access information and help them understand the bigger world around them.

Bonus Question: 

Who do you think is doing the most innovative, interesting, disruptive work right now and why?

Social Entrepreneur, Zuko Mandlakazi, on his innovation in helping the deaf community. I choose him because he is from my province of the Eastern Cape – The Home of Legends. He’s my home boy who is deeply rooted in Eastern Cape, and is proudly South African.