By Darryl Gangloff
Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela, visited Hotchkiss as a guest speaker during the All-School Meeting on Nov. 28 in honor of the 10th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death. An accomplished speaker, author, entrepreneur, activist, and co-founder of the Mandela Institute for Humanity, Ndaba Mandela has made it his life's work to share the lessons of social justice and equality he learned from his grandfather.
“I am thrilled to present a truly exceptional All-School event today. We are honored to have in Nbada Mandela, a distinguished advocate for change and the grandson of Nelson Mandela, with us. His insights into leadership, equity, and inclusion align seamlessly with our commitment to fostering an intentionally diverse and inclusive community,” said Daymyen Tyler Layne, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Layne thanked everyone who made Mandela’s visit possible: Helena Inzerillo ’25 and her mother, Prudence Inzerillo P'25, the DEI Council, and Lisanne Norman ’94, director of the Walter Crain Fellowship program, associate director of diversity, equity, and Inclusion, instructor in humanities and social sciences, and instructor for the Hersey Scholars Program.
“I'm really excited to welcome Ndaba Mandela to Hotchkiss today in celebration of the legacy of Nelson Mandela, a man that is hugely important to me,” Helena said, noting that Ndaba Mandela is author of Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, Nelson Mandela, co-founder and chairman of the Mandela Institute for Humanity, and co-founder of Africa Rising, which is dedicated to empowering African youth through mentorship education and leadership development.
Helena told the crowd that Nelson Mandela was the first democratically elected president of South Africa after being in prison 27 years, fighting for justice and racial equality under the oppressive apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his work. He died 10 years ago on Dec. 5, 2013.
Ndaba Mandela shared memories of his grandfather and spoke about leadership and activism. “Growing up, my grandfather put pressure on me. I remember once I was having dinner with him, and he said to me, ‘You are my grandson. Therefore, people would look at you as a leader.’” He ultimately realized that this type of pressure is about creating a diamond. “The pressure that your parents put on you is because they want to see you shining. They want to see you doing much more than you think you can. And let me tell you something, you are much more powerful than you think you are.”
He noted the potential of young people to drive positive change and encouraged Hotchkiss students to be proactive in shaping the future they want to see. He emphasized that leadership is about service and asked Bearcats to repeat these words: “Viva Nelson Mandela! Long live the spirit of Martin Luther King! I am a leader. What I can dream, I can achieve. It is in our hands to work together to make this world a better place.”
Audience members asked a variety of questions, ranging from his favorite memories of his grandfather (“When he was happy, he would break out in a song”) to how to overcome failure (“You must not be afraid to fail—the more you fail, the closer you are to succeeding”).
One student asked if there is a lesson his grandfather taught him that sticks with him the most. “Yes,” he said immediately. “My grandfather said, ‘To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that protects and promotes the freedom of others.’”