Mandela visit sheds light on Entrepreneurship and the African Diaspora

October 8, 2014
Prairie View A&M University

The College of Business recently welcomed Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela, rounding out a week of International events exposing students to cultural globalization. The younger Mandela spoke about his numerous accomplishments as an entrepreneur and organizational leader and addressed African stereotypes.

Mandela opened his speech by detailing a particular incident that sparked his desire to start his own outreach organization.

According to Mandela, while visiting Disney World, a gentleman asked him, “Where are you from?” Once the gentleman learned Mandela was from Africa, he asked him, “How big do the lions get there?” Once again, Mandela was jarred by the “TV effect” – many people living outside of Africa have a perception of Africa based solely on the things that they have seen on (American) TV. But not every place in Africa is a jungle or safari. Africa has skyscrapers, education centers, urbanized cities and beautiful landscapes that do not involve lions, tigers or bears.

While this encounter may have seemed like a minor irritation to many, Mandela and his cousin were inspired to launch Africa Rising. Since 2009, the organization not only addresses how to shed the stereotypes and shine a new light on Africa, but it does important outreach work by engaging youth throughout the poorest parts of Africa through education. The organization also builds resource centers that afford community members the opportunity to use technology and have access to different information.

While not running his flagship organization, Africa Rising, Mandela is heavily involved in another program called “The African Dream.” The purpose of this program is to bring together influential people to talk about, debate and clearly define what the African Dream is so that African can make informed choice about business, entrepreneurship and investment.

Mandela closed by encouraging students to define their own dreams. He implored everyone in attendance to use the platform given to them as educated African Americans to make a difference in the lives of others by becoming mentors for African children.

-Andetria Poole