Ndileka Mandela set on keeping father’s memory alive through foundation’s work

2014-02-20 15:57

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Her grandfather’s saying that “through education, the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor” has inspired Ndileka Mandela to start a foundation which will focus on school infrastructure in rural areas.

Ndileka, the eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela, launched the foundation in Houghton, Joburg, today.

She named it after her father, Thembekile, who died in a car crash at the age of 24 years when she was four years old.

Ndileka said it was important to her to ensure that her father would not be forgotten. She also wanted to promote the values associated with Nelson Mandela.

“My grandfather used to say, ‘It is through education that a daughter of a peasant can become a doctor one day’ and this is why I am starting the foundation,” she said.

The foundation will focus on infrastructure development in health and education in the rural areas and also on youth development.

Ndileka said she wanted to create a foundation separate from the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) even though the two might collaborate on some projects in future.

“They [NMF] no longer focus on infrastructure development in education and health but give food supplies to schools. I found it befitting to have the Thembekile Mandela Foundation separate from the Mandela Foundation,” she said.

In addition, she said NMF was re-branded in 2010 and discontinued most of its health and education infrastructure projects.

Ndileka said the first project of the foundation was the refurbishment of Clarkebury Senior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape. The land where the school was built was donated to the missionaries by Nelson Mandela’s great-grandfather, Chief Ngubengcuka, in the early 1800s.

“My grandfather went to that school and I also went there. So, in 2012, when the principal of the school approached us and said, ‘Can you help us raise funds to refurbish the hostel,’ I started thinking about creating a foundation,” she said.

However, Ndileka said when her grandfather started becoming very sick, she placed all her projects on hold.

“I decided I would spend time by his side because I knew his time was limited. It is because I was a nurse that I knew I could take good care of him,” she said.

Ndileka was dressed in black to show that the Mandela family was still in mourning.

She said the proper launch of the foundation would take place after the mourning period and after all the structures and governance issues had been dealt with.

“The family is still in mourning, we will launch the foundation properly after the mourning period in March. Right now, we are looking to promote the foundation to corporate, businesses and anyone looking to sponsor us,” she said.


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