Mandela's legacy gets new blood
FORMER president Nelson Mandela has endorsed that his granddaughter Ndileka Mandela take over his legacy of uplifting impoverished rural communities.
Ndileka says the Nelson Mandela Foundation - which was responsible for building clinics and schools in rural areas before Madiba retired - has since stopped doing the work.
"His foundation has a new strategy. It has refocused its energy towards the centre of memory, which is digital archives. It has collaborated with Google on this," she says.
"There are business people who are still willing to continue where my granddad left, helping to rebuild his old school."
Ndileka was speaking at Clarkebury Secondary School near Engcobo in Eastern Cape.
The historic but dilapidated school has produced two former ANC presidents - Mandela and the late Alfred Xuma. The renovation of the school will be her first project. She plans to convert Madiba's former classroom, which is being used as a staff room, into a science laboratory.
With the help of the SA Bureau of Standards and Tim Tebeila Foundation, she will also renovate other buildings, including the hostels. "My granddad is passionate about all children receiving free basic education. When I told him about taking forward his legacy, my granddad ... looked at me and said, 'that's very good darling'."
The spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, yesterday admitted that the foundation was no longer building schools. "We no longer build schools but we support the Department of Basic Education's 94 plus schools initiative."
Ndileka said she would do her charity work through her trust - Thembekile Mandela Trust - named after her father, who was Madiba's son from his first marriage. Thembekile died in a car accident in 1969.
Ndileka recalled sometime back when the family sat around the table with Madiba and about a fight between neighbours over chickens.
He wanted them to mediate between the fighting families.
"We laughed him off and said, 'you can't be serious'. But he insisted, telling us about the importance of connecting with communities," she recalled.
She said the school is one of the 94 that have been identified by the Department of Basic Education as needing help.
"This school is supposed to be a historic site because Madiba is our icon," Ndileka said.
Tim Tebeila of the Tebeila Foundation said they were happy to help the community. "We are here to touch the lives and to improve a black child's life," he said.