Students, alum and faculty braved the snow Wednesday evening and gathered with anticipation to hear ‘DEIS Impact keynote address, “Africa Rising: The Mandela Legacy & the Next Generation of African Leadership.” Continuing the legacy of their grandfather, Kweku Mandela-Amuah and Ndaba Mandela spoke of Africa Rising, which seeks to publicize the positive image of Africa. Kweku and Ndaba spoke of youth empowerment, the contagious potential of ideas, and inherent risk in truly striving for social justice.
Praising Brandeis student body’s unique commitment to social justice, Kweku stressed that it is our inevitable failure in the struggle for social justice that makes it such a unique and meaningful burden to undertake. He emphasized that despite the inherently elusive goal of a just society ‘DEIS Impact is the essential embodiment of intent that drives our ideas forward. In this way, ‘DEIS Impact is, “the best of who we are and are inspired to be.” Kweku concluded by reiterating that true change requires risk, fearlessness, and action.
Ndaba Mandela balanced the crushing challenges Africa faces with the enormous natural strengths it possesses as a continent. In Ndaba’s view, the diversity of Africa’s fifty-four nations does not detract from its ability and necessity to unite. The African Dream must rise above and over power the global perspective of an Africa teeming with war, dictators, and poverty. Ndaba called for Brandeis to mobilize against injustice locally by holding our own Mandela Day to celebrate public service. Ndaba left us with the words of his grandfather, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
Following the Mandela’s words of inspiration I went home and logged on to mandelaproject.com for a taste of social justice networking. I was intrigued by the unexpected combination of Brandeisians’ two favorite pastimes – Facebook and social activism. The Mandela Project seeks to be a sounding board of inspiration where global citizens share their hopes for Africa and the world. The site immediately offered to transfer my Facebook information into their platform where I then received an automated welcome message from Ndaba Mandela himself. A Facebook-meets-Tumblr coated in Nelson Mandela’s face it’s certainly a unique take on honoring Mandela’s legacy. However, this marriage of the Internet and political activism seems a natural following the integral role of social media in the Arab Spring. While I don’t anticipate transferring my communications to Mandela Project I do believe it represents an inevitable shift towards online political organizing. As Ndaba and Kweku continue to experiment at the vanguard of youth organizing I can only hope they find a way to transfer the time and mental energy poured into social media towards collective action for a better world.
- Mia Katan ‘15