Mandela encourages students to make a difference

Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, speaks to Weber State students about how they can make a difference. (Photo by Lichelle Jenkins/The Signpost)

I was fortunate enough to be one of the few at Weber State University to listen to Ndaba Mandela, grandson of the late South African politician and philanthropist Nelson Mandela, speak about his life growing up in South Africa and what he is doing today to continue his grandfather’s legacy

Mandela drew laughter from the audience as he told the story of when he first met his grandfather when he was a young boy. At the time, his grandfather was still under arrest by the South African government but was living in the house of one of the prison wardens. He talked about how the house looked amazing to him and contained many items he considered luxuries, including a VCR. He mentioned that when he visited he got to use the VCR as he watched “The Neverending Story.” After seeing how his grandfather was living, Mandela said that he made up his mind about what he wanted to do with his life.

“I had an idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Mandela said. “When I grow up, I want to go to jail.”

Having grown up much since then, Mandela no longer dreams of going to jail but instead works hard to change the perception of Africa that many people in the world currently hold.

“Yes, there are dictators in Africa. Yes, there’s war in Africa. There’s poverty in Africa. There’s disease in Africa,” Mandela said. “But there are things all around the world. Why do we only concentrate on the negative things about Africa?”

Mandela also spoke about Mandela Day, July 18, a day dedicated to everyone giving back to their community. Because Mandela dedicated his life to helping others, his birthday is dedicated to everyone helping each other.

Listening to Mandela speak about what his grandfather did, and what he himself is doing today, inspired me to want to do something to make a difference in the world.

I’m sure some of the students here at Weber State feel like they have too many other things to worry about in their own lives to even think about problems others might be having. Whether it be stressing over classes or worry over work or whatever else would take up one’s time, some people out there feel like they don’t need to worry about anyone else’s problems.

But Nelson and Ndaba Mandela saw the bigger picture. They understand that if we are to each better ourselves, we must first start by working to better each other.

Whether it’s volunteering to work on a community service project, or helping out at the local homeless shelter, there are so many things that we can do to help others and to make our city of Ogden a better place. All it takes is just a few people to step forward and take up the cause of making a difference, and soon more and more people will follow.