Chief Mandla Mandela talks about new exhibit at Bush Library dedicated to grandfather, Nelson Mandela

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 12:07 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Nelson Mandela’s grandson is in Bryan College Station this week.

Chief Mandla Mandela is here for a special reception in honor of an exhibit at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Mandela: The Official Exhibition gives a closer look at the life of a man who refused to be broken, and continued fighting for equality despite imprisonment. It tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s childhood, his struggles against the apartheid regime, serving as South Africa’s first democratically elected president, his charitable work until his death, and how the world said goodbye to the icon.

In an exclusive interview with Karla Castillo, Chief Mandela talked about the first time he met his grandfather when he was nine years old.

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“Every window with bars. Every door with bars and I asked myself what are we doing in a prison,” said Chief Mandela. “And this voice draws closer and closer to the door, a giant just leaps into the room and I think, ‘well who is this man?’ And in excitement they greet while hugging. He turns around. He looks at me and says, ‘You must be my grandson, Mandla. That moment alone made me very bitter. I was angry because he was a man in prison, telling me he’s my grandfather. And a prison to any child is for people who have done wrong in society. And I became very withdrawn but he could see exactly what was happening. Forty-five minutes visit became like a lifetime visit for me. And we had one of those one word answer conversations.”

Chief Mandela says he quickly learned to appreciate who his grandfather was and the work he was doing that would make a global impact.

“Every grandchild seeks to have the opportunity of sitting right at the feet of your grandfather and listening to stories,” said Chief Mandela. “I think this is why I would always say I treasure the moment of meeting my grandfather in such complexities as a prisoner. But also the understanding that we were granted only 45 minutes visit a year to see him. So you looked forward to this 45 minutes and when you were able to go and see him you wanted to tell him the story of your life. And it was not more about his politics but being a grandfather.”

The exhibit has been in other cities around the world. Chief Mandela said he likes traveling to each location and learning more about how his grandfather’s work has impacted those communities.

He said he hopes the exhibit inspires people to figure out how they too can make the world a better place.

Mandela: The Official Exhibition is at the Bush Library through April 23.