Look east to Russia, says young Mandela

Mayibuye Melisizwe Mandela celebrating Mandela Day at Langa High School in July last year. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Mayibuye Melisizwe Mandela celebrating Mandela Day at Langa High School in July last year. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 4, 2024


SOUTH Africa can learn a lot from Russia, especially the East European countries’ achievements in the fields of science, technology, education, health and mining.

This is according to Mayibuye Melisizwe Mandela, one of former statesman Nelson Mandela’s grandsons. He told the Sunday Independent this week that South Africa could learn from Russia's diplomatic tie-building experience, and highlighted the need for preserving solid international contacts for mutual gain.

”Russia's historical support for sovereignty and anti-colonial movements are consistent with South Africa's aspirations for independence and self-determination,” Melisizwe said.

He said South Africa’s own development objectives can be inspired by Russia’s achievements in fields such as science, technology, education, health and mining.

”Through investing in cooperative endeavours and knowledge sharing, both countries can further enhance their alliance, promoting development and well-being. The historical partnership fosters a common vision for a better future by giving South Africa a basis upon which to learn from Russia's experiences and accomplishments.”

He said there were plans in motion to extend the friendship and collaboration built with Russia to benefit young people in both countries, adding that the specific details were under wraps. He intended to share them next month when he returned from the World Youth Festival in Russia.

Melisizwe is employed by Cape Town-based African Innovation Solutions where he is doing research with an emphasis on topics that support creative solutions. He also oversees the company’s bi-monthly social programmes, which prioritise community growth and involvement.

He said his strong bond with Russia originated from his genuine curiosity about the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, and had dedicated efforts to understand their cultures and dynamics.

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates joined the bloc as full members in January.

”I initiated the ‘What is BRICS?’ education and integration project under African Innovation Solution, where we visited schools in Cape Town to teach the economic aspects and significance of BRICS, sharing valuable insights on why our country joined this collaborative initiative,” Melisizwe said.

He attended the Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg last July and later the 9th BRICS Ministers of Communication meeting in Cape Town, as well as the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg from August.

Melisizwe completed a diploma in theatre production at the Cape College of Magic.

He also attended the BRICS International School in Moscow, in November last year, which he said, helped him see the world from a wider perspective when it came to international relations.

”As I move forward, I intend to go back to Russia in order to improve my language skills and pursue my studies in international relations, which is in line with the company’s dedication to co-operation and a global viewpoint,” said Melisizwe.

He said through its friendship with Russia and the other BRICS countries, African Innovation Solutions had a bright future ahead.

”For a corporation that has already built strong ties with nations such as China, expanding partnerships within the BRICS framework is a calculated step in the direction of innovation, economic development, and technical improvement.”

Melisizwe said the company’s relationship with Russia in particular provided opportunities for profitable collaborations in several fields, including technology, and research and development.

”African Innovation Solutions can investigate collaborative projects that strengthen the company’s dedication to excellence by advancing creative solutions by utilising the capabilities of both countries.“

Melisizwe said African Innovation Solutions was in a unique position to shape the future of creative solutions and contribute to the larger objectives of international co-operation and development, because of its active engagement with Russia and the other BRICS countries.

On the Russia-Ukraine war, he said the matter was complex.

”There is an opinion that is in line with Russia’s that highlights how crucial it is to preserve regional stability and national security.”

Melisizwe said when African countries look for collaboration outside the West, Russia might be able to help promote co-operation in the future.

”Mutually beneficial partnerships may result from the significant historical ties that exist between Russia and some African countries, as well as from shared interests in trade, technology, and infrastructure development.”