Skip to main content
africa rising foundation

Kweku Mandela

It's obviously an honour, but it can't be easy to be Kweku Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, one of the world's greatest heroes.

But Kweku Mandela is carrying on his grandfather's struggle to build a better Africa. He's taking part in We Day in his role as co-founder and communications director for the Africa Rising Foundation, the organization he co-founded with his cousin Ndaba Mandela.

Kweku and his foundation aim to change the image of Africa. The mission of Africa Rising is to be a conduit for a new generation of Africans committed to promoting the continent through campaigns that address its social and economic challenges. It's true the continent has its problems but it also has a fast-growing, young, energetic population and it excels in many areas and has a growing number of success stories.

Everyone knows that on We Day Kweku will inspire young people by calling on them to be committed and involved in helping Africa build. But here are 10 things you might not know about him.

1. He was born in Transkei, South Africa, but actually grew up in the United States, returning to his native country in 1993, the year before his grandfather was elected president. That's why he speaks with an American accent.

2. When he came home, he hadn't seen his cousin Ndaba, later co-founder of Africa Rising, since they were a few months old. Yet he says he knew instantly that they were kindred spirits.

3. He went to film school (the APA Film School in Sydney, Australia) and is active in South Africa's film and entertainment industry.

4. He was executive producer of The Bang Bang Club, a 2010 Canadian-South African co-produced feature film starring Ryan Phillippe and Malin Akerman, based on an acclaimed book about early 1990s combat photographers by Greg Marinovich, who is played by Mr. Phillippe.

5. He's concerned about road safety, especially after his 13-year-old cousin Zenani Mandela was killed in a crash in 2010. Kweku supports the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and the Long Short Walk, a world walk for road safety.

6. He considers one of his grandfather's greatest legacies the call for people who have been harmed by injustice to avoid being bitter. Earlier this year, he wrote in the Huffington Post: "My grandfather would always say that if we as humans don't transcend this cycle of hatred and violence that we find ourselves in so often, we'll always be prisoners."

7. He had what he described (in the Huffington Post) as a "tumultuous" relationship with his own father, though they reconciled. "It wasn't until we began to communicate, to listen to each other, to come to appreciate each other's points of view, that we began to get along and appreciate our unique gifts and perspectives."

8. He made a film in 2009 about his family's relationship to their celebrated grandfather, through a series of interviews, describing the project as "something that I have to do."

9. He thinks that one thing he has in common with his grandfather is that they both believe in young people. He noticed that when Nelson would be around young people, he would grow quiet and watch them intensely.

10. He and Africa Rising are working on The African Dream – a multimedia project aiming to capture the problems facing Africa and the possible solutions through the eyes of African young people.