Ndaba Mandela: My grandfather would be ‘disappointed’ in today’s world leaders

A new documentary series has been developed with black creators to celebrate to Nelson Mandela’s legacy and work.
A new documentary series has been developed with black creators to celebrate to Nelson Mandela’s legacy and work.

Nelson Mandela’s grandson has said that the former South African president would be “disappointed” in the world leaders of today for furthering their personal interests instead of serving their communities.

Author and spokesperson Ndaba Mandela has reflected on his grandfather’s legacy in a new project which has been released to mark Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18.

The five-part documentary series, The Mandela Project, features black creators undertaking various community projects to showcase different aspects of the anti-apartheid leader’s story, work, and life learnings.

Ndaba narrates the YouTube series and provides anecdotes and personal stories about his grandfather as well as highlighting his contributions to service, freedom and equality.

Reflecting on his grandfather’s message, he told the PA news agency: “He always taught me that leaders are not there to be the best but leaders are there to serve their communities and to be a voice for the voiceless, and to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

“So the best type of leadership we have in the world is service value-based leadership, which we don’t find anymore.

“And I think he’d be very disappointed in the kind of leaders that we have in today’s world, who seem to only be furthering their own personal interests.”

He added that he believes his grandfather would be disappointed especially with the “calibre of leaders” in South Africa, where he served as president from 1994 to 1999, and with the war in Ukraine by Russian forces.

“He would urge both leaders to put down their guns and their arms and to come to the table and find a new way to come to peace”, he said.

In the new series, each episode stars a celebrity who undertakes an act of service in their local community in an effort to spread the word about Mandela’s teachings.

Among the famous faces is British rapper Big Zuu as well as actor Jabari Banks, digital creator Jeremy Lynch, actress Marsai Martin, footballer Patrice Evra and South African model and former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi.

Ndaba told PA that seeing the young creators carrying forth his grandfather’s legacy was “very inspiring and touching”.

“It shows us that we do have hope to actually continue fighting for all people, of all religions and backgrounds to have dignity and pride”, he added.

The public speaker said that he hopes the series will help viewers understand “the importance of the leadership that Nelson Mandela provided in the world, especially during a dark time of apartheid.”

He added: “But more importantly, I hope that people will be inspired to understand that we each have the responsibility to do our part to give back to our communities to make the world a better place”.

NME Awards 2022 – London
Big Zuu works with a community garden in north London as part of the series (Ian West/PA)

As part of the series, Big Zuu represents Mandela’s work of “growing himself” and others by working with a community garden in north London.

The rapper told PA that in his own life, he has been inspired by Mandela’s “resilience and mental willpower” to spend 27 years in prison and later become his country’s first black leader.

He added that he hopes to bring forth this message as well as break down stereotypes and provide representation for people from his background.

“I sort of feel like I’m always the gauge, people look at me as this normal dude from the hood and if I can do certain things then anyone can,” he explained.

“And that’s what representation kind of entails. You see someone from this community doing something and it makes you feel more comfortable and it makes you resonate with it more.”

The Mandela Project is available on the BET Networks YouTube channel from July 18 – Nelson Mandela International Day.