Of all the male Mandelas, Ndaba seems to have picked up most of his illustrious grandfather’s mannerisms — even his accent is very Madiba-like. And this makes sense: he lived with Nelson Mandela for most of his life. In fact, he calls Madiba his “second father”.
This week I sat down with Ndaba at an Mthatha restaurant. He was tired, having run from place to place in preparation for various Mandela Day activities that he was hosting with his Africa Rising foundation. It was nice to get him in a more casual setting (so casual, in fact, that we got the restaurant to keep its bar running a little longer so we could have a quiet drink while we chatted). I’ve spoken to him in the past; first at the Qunu museum three years ago, and then when he was at the press conference for the Mandela Day soccer match between Manchester City and AmaZulu. Those were more cagey chats, in settings that didn’t really make for nice conversation — they were too formal, too straight up-and-down.
But Thursday last week was different, and Ndaba opened up. I don’t know if he’s spoken this freely and openly before, but if he has, I haven’t seen those interviews.
He chatted about meeting Madiba for the first time and watching The Never-Ending Story with him, and how shocked he was when he was instructed by Mandela to move into his Houghton, Joburg, home when he was 11-years-old. He spoke about his grandfather’s favourite story to tell — a tale about a “sabotaged” chicken wing that wouldn’t stick to a fork! — and about being scolded for losing a school jersey. His attachment to his grandfather was clear, and it was awesome to get this insight into their life together.