Grandson takes up Mandela challenge to serve

Mvexo (S Africa), PTI | Updated : 19 June 2013, 08:33 AM

Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla wanted to be a disc jockey but his illustrious grandfather had other ideas for him passing down a lesson on the responsibility that South Africa's most famous surname carries.

The anti-apartheid hero chose his 38-year-old grandson as the first Mandela in decades to be chief of his rural birthplace Mvezo in the Eastern Cape six years ago.

"My grandfather has always been my role model. He's an inspiration to the work I do today," Mandela, whose father was Makgatho from the hero's first marriage, told AFP.

As his 94-year-old grandfather battles a lung infection in hospital, he admitted it had "not at all" been easy trying to match up to the man who became South Africa's first black president.

"He's a global icon but I feel that as members of the family, the small things that we do as individuals, as a collective can one day amount to the dynamic person my grandfather became," he said.

"South Africa, and even the Mandelas themselves, I believe will never produce another Nelson Mandela but we can always strive to embrace him, his principles and values."

Lying on the winding Mbashe river where fiery aloes bloom and livestock wander, Mvezo is scenic but deeply impoverished.

There is no clean drinking water or sanitation in the village's humble homes, many built of mud, or even a health clinic.

Born here in 1918, Mandela's father was stripped of the Mvezo chieftancy by a colonial magistrate and he spent his early years in nearby Qunu village.

"We are very much as a family intrigued as to the place he comes from, how he emerged and the dynamic person that he became," said Mandela.

"And I think for future generations of the Mandelas, we should always look to our place of our origin and draw strength from that."

While Mandela was serving a 27-year jail term, his grandson was born in Soweto, a flash point of the anti-apartheid struggle far from the rural hinterland where his grandfather was born.

As a music loving high-schooler, he dreamt of becoming a DJ.

Mandela's response? "Nonsense, no Mandela will ever become such. You need to go out and find a career," he enacted, mimicking his grandfather's waving finger.

"My grandfather has really been the driver behind the person that I needed to be and the anchor around that was education," he said. 

First Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 08:32 AM
Post Comment (+)