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‘From Prisoner to President: The Mandela Legacy Lives On’ with Ndaba Mandela

portrait of Ndaba Mandela

Ndaba Mandela, founder and chair of Africa Rising Foundation and grandson of Nelson Mandela, gave his presentation: “From Prisoner to President: The Mandela Legacy Lives On” on Tuesday, March 26, to the Stetson community and the public.

Almost every chair was filled in the Stetson Room when University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., stood to introduce Mandela. As Libby stated, Ndaba Mandela has “taken the torch and run with it” in his involvement with the community and his inspirational presentations that emphasize action.

Mandela grew up seeing the problems and possibilities of his home in South Africa. He then began on his own journey to share and embody the teachings of his grandfather after finishing college. As he travelled to London and New York, he noted the “very limited knowledge of Africa,” which motivated him to start new community-based projects for the youth in his South Africa.

Throughout his presentation, Mandela stressed the need for empowerment among the youth and a focus on the future. Ndaba Mandela emphasized the power of “breaking down misconceptions” about Africa and about social justice.

book cover of Ndaba Mandela with his grandfather, Nelson Mandela
In June 2018, Ndaba Mandela released his book “Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, Nelson Mandela.”

In response to Mandela’s personal story, Stetson students asked about leaving their own legacy, including asking how to overcome the hurdles that always come up, the best way to educate others, and how he embraced his role as the “Prince of Africa.”

Mandela himself stated that as a kid he was “running away from his destiny” and ignoring his “higher calling in life.” He didn’t accept his role and responsibility until after he graduated from the University of Pretoria and his grandfather, Nelson Mandela, told him: “I’m not going to be here forever, you know what you have to do.”

This resulted in Ndaba Mandela shifting gears from average college student to international leader.  

After the speech, at least 50 guests lined up to take a picture and get an autograph from Mandela. Throughout the line, conversations sprung up about goals, ideals to put into action, and ways to ignite change.

During questions and answers after the speech, Mandela spoke of carrying with him the movement and legacy of his grandfather: to better the world and help the world go beyond blame and apologies to push for change and action.

Mandela’s visit was sponsored by the Multicultural Student Council, partnering with the Student Government Association, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Muslim Student Association. From the questions asked after his speech, it’s clear that Stetson students want to participate more in their community. As Mandela stated: “Time is always ripe to do right.”

-Carley Fockler

Carley Fockler ’15, English, is a graduate student in Stetson’s M.F.A. of the Americas Creative Writing Program.