ICON MANN, In Conversation with Ndaba Mandela, Chairman of Africa Rising

As told to Christyna Pourhabib for ICON MANN  

“I’m saying to my African brothers and sisters, you need to engage with Africa more. We need to stop looking down on Africa.” ….. Ndaba Mandela

I AM A person that cares deeply about the future of the continent of Africa. Not mentioning the obvious because I’m a dad, but I wonder what kind of world they are going to be inheriting from us, particularly this continent of Africa. It is my duty to make sure that number one, they are equipped dealing with the challenges, that they will be able to not only survive, but to excel, thrive, and become responsible citizens who add value to the community or society.

Photo by Werner Gruner

My grandfather, Nelson Mandela, drilled the importance of humility in me. Most of my lessons I take from him. I ended up living with my grandfather more than I lived with my own dad from the age of 11. So that’s where I draw my inspiration and values. He instilled those values in me. He said to me, “I must never be boastful.” He told me I shouldn’t drive a Jaguar because people will know that I have money. He said I mustn’t drive a Jaguar and then I look at old pictures of him and he used to drive a Mercedes Benz. I’m like damn brotha, how about you practice what you preach? (laughing) He was also President of South Africa so it’s all relative. My goal is to do as much as I can towards the unity and solidarity of African people, not just in Africa but the diaspora. If I can be remembered as a person who added value towards creating more unity and solidarity amongst people of African origin, I would have achieved my goal. Which men (past and present) inspire you? It goes without saying, my grandfather. Steve Biko, the leader of the black conscious movement in Africa. He was one of the most articulate, intelligent people when it came to analyzing society and the challenges of the black people. The MANTRA (Voice in My Head) It’s definitely in the line of creating unity amongst people and bridging the gap. A lot of people want to engage with Africa but they aren’t sure. Just look at the news, it’s always negative, so the fact that I can be invited to come and speak to share my perspective, for me that is beautiful. Compared to a soccer player, you’re doing what you love. I believe that if you’re not doing what you love, if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, quit that job because you’ll never be able to excel. The MOVEMENTS: 8:00AM I usually go to the gym or wake up, wash, run to my meetings. I’m an entrepreneur, I work for myself so usually I’m running early morning for a meeting or I will get up normal time and go and do exercise for about 45 minutes. I have some cereal and then go to the office and get on the emails if I don’t have meetings. 10:00AM Once in the office I start with emails and admin details before meetings. I average about 2-3 meetings a day. I’ll step out or people will come into my office. The type of meetings vary because I work on different things. There’s the Africa Rising Foundation and we have an agricultural business; that’s my main business. I work with a Japanese company called Sakata and they manufacture and produce high quality vegetable seeds, land rehabilitation and they also do turf for football stadiums and golf courses. Our job is business development. We look for mainly government projects, not just in South Africa but currently in Namibia as well as Botswana. Most of my meetings are mainly around agriculture or stuff to do with the foundation. 1:00PM I have a friend’s restaurant that I go to maybe twice a week for lunch. What I order varies on the mood I am in-what I am craving. 3:30PM I like to leave the office before traffic because I can do emails at home or I’ll leave after 6PM depending how much work I need to do with the team. 7:30PM On the evenings that there is not a work-related dinner meeting, I will eat at home. We have a lady that helps maintain the house and she cooks. I like to wind-down by getting lost in a series or movie. I just finished Stranger Things (Netflix). My favorite movies are Usual Suspects and Catch a Fire. Sometimes, if it has been an exceptionally long day, I’ll pass out in front of the TV or just read. If my kids don’t pass out in front of the TV, I’ll read them a story. And my son likes to pray so sometimes he prays. The MEDITATION(when you think Legacy + Heritage) I want to build schools in poor areas. One of my dreams is to have a school or schools from grade zero all the way to college level, but teaching the curriculum according to the African perspective. For example, one of the things I would love to work on is something like the African book of history. I’ve seen in times when I travel and even here at home, I’ll argue with some of the people, I’ll say ‘Pythagoras is from Africa, it’s from the Egyptians.'” And they’ll say, ‘No it’s not, it’s from the Greeks.” I’m like, ‘brotha, you don’t know your history. Where did you get your sources of information?'” Africans should have a universal resource they can go to and stop denying the greatness of who we are. I think it’s very important that we have something of that sort. We don’t really have anything like that. If we create a resource like that, a book that can then be turned into a digital book, a website, a portal and if it was endorsed by governments and education institutions, maybe historical black colleges, then we would be able to know our roots and not argue amongst each other about such trivial things. The COVET I love traveling. I’ve become addicted to it. Locally, I was in my village last week which is a one-hour flight away. Two weeks before I was in Senegal. I went for the Dakar Music Festival. It was interesting, it was the first one of its kind. People coming together from different countries was just amazing. Already, I have been many places in this world. My village, however, is one of the best places to escape to. It’s super chill, I chill in the village with my people. What I like about it is I’m catching up with my roots. I don’t speak English, I’m speaking Xhosa the whole time. And then I sit with the elders and sometimes I drink with them, eat meat, and we just laugh about ‘boys will be boys.’ The ladies, aunties and grandmothers ask, ‘when are you getting married?” And I say, ‘soon, soon.” The READ (When traveling) I look at Global Grind. I keep updated on my phone, I think that’s what most people use these days. I have news apps on my phone and of course one book. There’s a book I’m reading now about the A&C Youth League and how it started. I don’t have a favorite book. I typically read nonfiction. I’ve never read a book that was written by the same person twice, always different. I can’t read fiction because I want to learn. I want to learn every time I read something. I want to increase my knowledge about what’s happening in the world. The LISTEN If my life were a soundtrack, it would start with Humble by Kendrick Lamar and ideally end with Kanye West‘s, Power.  5 Things I Can’t Live Without 1.   Kids 2.   Family 3.   Exercise: I play soccer once a week and jog twice a week. I enjoy that a lot. 4.   Music 5.   A Companion. A man cannot live without a woman. The LAST WORDS Africa is the birthplace of humanity. And if Africa is the birthplace of humanity that means Africa is the birthplace of fashion, entertainment, music, sports, you name it. Everything began in Africa so when you’re looking for inspiration come to Africa. I’m saying to my African brothers and sisters, you need to engage with Africa more. We need to stop looking down on Africa. Tell young people to dream and to dream so big that their dreams scare them because they must understand they have the power and the ability to achieve their dreams and make their dreams a reality.     

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