African prince talks importance of youth for world peace

African prince talks importance of youth for world peace

By Casey Ramsdell

Prince Cedza Dlamini, founder and executive director of the Ubuntu Institute for Young Social Entrepreneurs and grandson of former South African President Nelson Mandela, talked about his vision of a world focused on peace and reform driven by young people yesterday.

He spoke at Ell Hall as part of the International Student and Scholar Institute (ISSI) Distinguished Speaker Series and discussed Ubuntu, the South African idea of peace, tolerance and compassion and the institute he founded based on its principles.

His speech, “Envisioning a world with no boundaries,” mirrors Northeastern’s new proposed slogan, “Opportunities Without Boundaries.”

Dlamini spoke of his childhood growing up in the Kingdom of Swaziland and his time living in Boston and studying at Tufts University as an international relations major.

He recalled a memory from his college education when he picked up a world history book and was surprised to see only half a page devoted to his native continent, Africa.

“How can this book be about history if there is only a half-page about Africa?” he said. “I figured I could not complain and had to do something about it.”

After working briefly with the United Nations, Dlamini said he left after feeling there wasn’t much opportunity there for young leaders. He then decided to create the Ubuntu Institute for Young Social Entrepreneurs in South Africa.

The Institute is an organization that provides skills to young entrepreneurs. Sixty percent of the African population is 35 years old or younger and Dlamini believes by giving these young people the skills needed to succeed, it will foster change in Africa and around the world.

“This concept of Ubuntu is not just a South African concept,” Dlamini said. “This concept is so unique and it hasn’t been taken on.”

Dlamini said he thinks the world is divided because of problems like wars about religion, racial tensions and the gap between the rich and the poor.

“The concept of Ubuntu celebrates dialogue through conflict resolution,” Dlamini said. “A lot of western societies have an individualistic way of looking at things, unlike Africans who do things together.”

South Africa can be an example to the rest of the world, he said, and the concept of Ubuntu and the Ubuntu Institute can help accomplish the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

These goals were agreed upon at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 and include eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, gender equality, reducing child mortality, combating HIV and AIDS and improving maternal health and environmental sustainability.

There are a lot of opportunities for young people to make a difference, especially by motivating political leaders, Dlamini said.

“There is a lot you can do in the U.S. so that your leaders are held accountable,” he said.

At the end of his presentation, Dlamini showed a brief clip of a video about women and HIV and AIDS to emphasize the importance of gender equality in his mission.

“Some of my friends call me the male feminist and I’m proud of it because I know how important it is to empower women,” he said.

He was then awarded a plaque from ISSI, and President Joseph Aoun gave a toast in his honor.

“Ubuntu is a different way at looking at the world,” Aoun said. “Thanks for giving Ubuntu.”

Maria Sodawala, a senior management information systems major from Tanzania in eastern Africa, said Dlamini’s speech was inspirational, especially for young Africans.

“It motivates us to do something,” Sodawala said. “If you are really interested, there is a lot you can do.”

Sergio Marrero, a senior industrial engineering major, said he was awed by the fact that Ubuntu affects all ages.

“What I think is amazing [is that the] concept spans generations, but society seems to not grasp it quite yet,” he said. “The potential is endless; there is hope.”

Marrero said he believes students can help, but they have to want to first.

“People have to have an open mind and be willing to experience something,” he said.

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