Ndaba Mandela, co-founder and acting chairman of the Africa Rising Foundation, visited UCF Monday morning to address Africa’s global image with students and other attendees.
Ndaba, who grew up with his grandfather and former South African president Nelson Mandela, spoke about his efforts to continue his grandfather’s legacy, his inspiration for founding the organization and his hopes for Africa’s future.
Students were invited to attend the speech by the Global Perspectives Office, which sponsored the visit. Former SGA president Melissa Westbrook, a graduate student at UCF, was one of many students in the audience motivated to attend the event due to the relation to Nelson Mandela.
“Just knowing that Ndaba was coming, this very close to his grandfather, probably as close as we can get to him, and I really, really love Nelson Mandela and everything that he stood for,” she said.
Reflecting Ndaba’s mission, Westbrook reiterated the need for global citizens to realize Africa’s potential and resources.
“We do send a lot of help to Africa but it’s interesting because it’s like having one hand out and the other in our pocket,” she said. “We give a lot of help to Africa but maybe we wouldn’t have to give so much if we didn’t take so much.”
Ndaba began his speech by painting a picture of the South African climate during apartheid, a time during which black people were arrested and killed on a daily basis, he said.
“Those who opposed the system were not only black people, but everyone who believed in freedom, equality and justice,” Ndaba said.
A great majority of those people were led by Nelson, who dedicated his presidency to creating unity in the nation, and eliminating the racial tensions of apartheid.
Ndaba, who lost both of his parents to AIDS, moved in with his grandfather in 1993, just before Nelson became president, and grew up by his side.
"Luckily, I was able to travel with my grandfather to a few different countries, and every time we would meet people, the same type of questions would come up. 'How are the lions? How is the crime? Should I come with security?'" Ndaba said.
Eventually, Ndaba said he was fed up with the questions of the crime and animals in Africa, and decided something needed to be done, resulting in the formation of the Rising Africa Foundation.
"It was clear that this feeling that I had about the image of Africa was not something special to me, but it was in the minds of the youth of Africa in general," he said.
The organization was founded in 2010 to combat Africa’s negative global image, which Ndaba said is often perpetuated by the media.
“They constantly showcase an Africa that is full of dictators, war, poverty, disease," Ndaba said. "And I’m not here to say that these things do not exist. However, there’s a bigger side to Africa that exists. Africa is a place where you can take your family for holiday, where you can see and experience some of the most beautiful beaches. Africa is a place that actually has the most potential for economic growth right now."
Ndaba said the vision of his organization is to be a catalyst in creating a new breed of African leaders who will be able to lead the development at the forefront, as opposed to allowing the growth to be led by multinational corporations that are there merely to make sure that they are constantly getting the maximum amount of profit.
"As we continue developing this organization, we have decided the three key pillars that we should focus on to be able to eventually change the image of Africa is education, entrepreneurship and the celebration of African culture," he said.
At the end of the speech, organizers from the Global Perspectives Office, which sponsored the visit, opened the floor up to questions from the audience.
President of the Campus Peace Action organization at UCF Agustin Martinez, who asked Ndaba for advice in getting his organization involved, said his biggest takeaway from the speech was the need for education.
“The more you educate people and the more you empower them to do good and promote change, that effect is felt worldwide,” he said. “For every person you help, you don’t know how many people they’re going to help. You don’t know what money they’re going to raise to go to Mr. Mandela’s foundation or any foundation around the world. Education was, to me, his main point, and especially using your privilege to give others access to it that may not already have that privilege.”
Daniela Marin is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com