Conversations with Mandela

I have never met Nelson Mandela, but we have had many conversations.

Our founder Kennedy discovered Nelson Mandela when he was a young boy living in Kibera. An American gave Kennedy Mandela's "A Long Walk to Freedom" and he couldn't put it down. Mandela's story of struggle gave him hope and inspiration.

Our lives in the slums seemed to take a friend every day. Police shot my friend Boi; they thought he looked like a criminal. My childhood friend Calvin hanged himself. His suicide note said what I felt: “I just can’t take it anymore.” Both of my sisters were raped and impregnated as teenagers. People seemed to fade and disappear. To live was the exception. I am now 29, and all but two of my closest childhood friends are dead.

It was Mandela who saved my life.

Kennedy's conversations covered triumph, tragedy, and everything in between. His  conversations with Mandela have continued to this day. 

I still talk to Mandela, and I wonder what he might do today. How he might organize another movement to take Africa forward. These are conversations we must all begin to have.

As we begin to anticipate his loss, so too we must celebrate the need for a next generation of selfless and driven leaders. For me, Mandela’s example will always stand as a reminder of what is possible when conviction faces injustice, of the work that still remains unfinished, and of the long road ahead.

Read all of Kennedy's piece here