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Nelson Mandela's grandson is continuing his legacy

CENTENARY: Nelson Mandela

FIVE YEARS after he passed away, the legacy of Nelson Mandela continues fervently through the endeavours of his family.

The lawyer, revolutionary, political prisoner, world leader, elder statesman and symbol of the struggle against oppression would have been 100 this week (his birthday, July 18, is now Nelson Mandela International Day) and to mark this special centenary an exhibition featuring many previously unseen artefacts is set to debut in London as part of a major global museum tour.

It’s the only exhibition to be presented in collaboration with the Royal House of Mandela (RHoM). Asked what his grandfather’s legacy meant to him as a child, the RHoM’s traditional leader Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela – who was also appointed as a Member of Parliament by the African National Congress following elections in 2009 and again in 2014 – exclusively toldThe Voice that working with his grandfather started when he was just a little boy.

“We grew up quite protected from the harsh realities that my grandfather confronted as an activist leader and commander-in-chief of the armed struggle, though the realities of life
under apartheid brutality stared you in the face as a daily lived experience,” Nkosi admitted candidly.

He added: “I was only nine years old when I was introduced to my grandfather at Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, Cape Town. It was an experience that left me bewildered as to why my grandfather was incarcerated. He sensed my unease and after our rst meeting gave very clear instruc- tions for my political education.

“It was, in a sense, the beginning of a very special relationship and from the age of 15 years old I travelled on many occasions to receive awards on his behalf.”

Next year’s Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition, in which visitors will see many personal belongings and objects never previously seen outside of South Africa, has been described as a “once in a professional lifetime” opportunity by Lizzy Moriarty, exhibition advisor to Nelson Mandela.


Nkosi believes hosting the exhibition in London would have been something “Madiba would have given his stamp of approval to”. Speaking on what he felt Mandela’s legacy means in the world today, Nkosi said: “I think it was in his 1996 visit to Brixton, which had been a hotbed of racial tension and ethnic violence, that demonstrated that he was a symbol of hope, of possibility and of courage.

“He never shied away from controversy or from taking an unpopular position on matters. All that mattered to him was whether the little that he could do would contribute to transforming the world and make it a better place.”

Since 2007, when the Chieftaincy and family title was restored, Nkosi was installed as Chief of Mvezo and head of the Mandela clan under the direction of his grandfather. Since then, Nkosi has ful lled several primary roles, including establishing and invigorating a community development arm, The Mvezo Development Trust; building a primary school and initiating the Mandela School of Science and Technology with Siemens Corp.; developing the Mvezo Komkhulu Museum and the future home of this exhibition as well as launching annual cultural, political and sports related programmes and activities in the Eastern Cape; and providing community and spiritual leadership as de ned by centuries of culture and tradition.

But what can the average man in the street do to honour the legacy of Mandela? Nkosi is clear when he answers: “Do what the man would do!” He explained: “I think that he would start the day by reading or telling a child a story. In this construct reading would embody his belief that ‘education is the greatest weapon we can use to change the world’.

“The child symbolises our hope in the future and care for the most vulnerable. Storytelling is the preservation of our oral history and imparting tradition and a sense of belonging, place and
purpose in the world.

“Too many of us live lives bereft of any purpose and this Mandela Day we call on you to dedicate yourself, even if for only a brief moment, to serve and live out the Nelson Mandela legacy!”

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