Exclusive: Interview with Dumani Mandela

Today we have a very special interview for you all an interview with Dumani Mandela. Read on please…

Can you tell us something about yourself?

I am a bit of a recluse and I like spending a lot of time on my own. I never give TV interviews and only do interviews in writing.

I think many people asked you this question but still I want to know how does it feel to be Nelson Mandela´s grandson?

It actually feels pretty normal as I knew Nelson Mandela the family man and not the politician. I think a lot of people ask that question because of the public persona of Nelson Mandela they know and feel at times that by asking me the question I can confirm that public persona.

Do you get any priviliges in life because you are his grandson?

Funny enough not. You would be surprised at the expectations of some people because I am Nelson Mandela’s grandson expect a lot of inhuman things from you because of their own expectations of what they think you should be like. It can be really difficult at times which probably explains why I keep to myself.

Your grandfather was a great freedom fighter. Was he an inspiration to you and in which way was he an inspiration to you?

I knew Nelson Mandela the family man and did not experience much of the politician. So a lot of times I experienced his nurturing spirit as a father and grandfather so I was inspired by that aspect of his life in how dedicated to his family he was and was also inspired by his commitment to his family.

What did freedom mean to your grandfather?

You would have to ask him that but for me it means freedom of determination for all peoples of South Africa to be whatever they choose.

Can you describe what freedom means to you?

It means being at liberty to determine your destiny the way you see fit.

What are your views on politics?

I have no strong political views that I espouse as I am business man who has been working with our family office OSR Holdings for the last 18 years. My view is mainly based on business and I pursue business for the sake of business. I feel that politicians must give us the right socio economic environment to carry out business.

Do you always wanted to become a writer?

I always writing and telling stories and to that end yes its always been in my blood. But I do it as a hobby rather than a vocation.

How did you got discovered as a writer?

Through lots of hard work and determination. I just kept on knocking on doors and found publishers who liked my work. But with Holland it was a bit different as I was referred to the publisher Conserve with Kees De Barker through my old Dutch mentors wife Jansje Deliefde who found the publisher for me in Holland. 

 Do you have a literary agent?

No I do not as I self publish a lot of my work because I want to own the rights and simply sign with a distributer in each jurisdiction.

How does your working day look like?

I spend most of my time working with our investment portfolio at our family office. We are invested in train manufacturing, property and mining so a lot of my time is spent managing people and doing some minor administration, but mostly office bound.

Are there any dislikes of this job ( being a writer)?

It´s not a job but rather a hobby so its always fun to be able to get the time to write. The one thing I don’t like about writing is that it is lonely and its just you and a blank page and words in your head.

Could you tell us about your eductional background?

I was educated in America, Kenya,  Sweden, England and South Africa. I have an undergraduate degree from Wits University in Johannesburg and I studied, Political Science, Finance and Accounting.

How did you experience your study time?

With great difficulty as I was not not that focused on my studies and had many other interests like writing which I spent more time on, but I wanted to get a formal qualification so I continued until I finished.


What did you wanted to become when you were young?

I wanted to become a photographer.

Do you think you need an eduction to be a writer?

Yes. In order to write with any great depth one has to be well educated. 

How long did it take to write your book (months, years, weeks)?

About five months. 

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

I write most of my books at night when I am not working so it can be pretty demanding.

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

By having a Heineken.

What can readers learn from your books?

To always pursue their passions. I write a lot of about personal self determination and living your dreams because that is where the magic is in life is in pursuing your dreams.

How do you develop your plot and characters

I don’t feel like good writers create the story but somehow the story is sent to you from the universe and you’re just the writer of that universal story. I don’t plan my books out but rather I channel a message from the universe through me and let the book develop itself.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part of publishing?

I love every aspect of publishing but I don’t like the editing process and much because it can be stressful to chop and change your baby.

What books do you enjoy reading?

I really like Ben Okri’s work along with Murakami as they are wonderful at story telling and magical realism.

 Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

Yes Ben Okri and Murakami’s works really stand out of for me and inspired me to want to write.

 What books helped you the most when you were writing your (first) book?

You need a supportive family in order to be a witter because as I said before it can be lonely and you need the love and support of family to keep you going.

 What books did you grow up reading?

I read a lot of Paulo Coelho in my youth and some Shakespeare.

Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you see yourself? 

Yes to a certain degree, I feel more accomplished.

Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing?

My mother sister and wife.

Mostly writers struggle with their wages. Is that the case with you as well?

No I have a full time job and I write for fun.

How do you promote your books? Do you use social media?

I have a distribution company here in South Africa that does all of my promotions and I also do NFT’s to promote my books online.

Your book Young on the run from Apartheid/ Op de vlucht naar vrijhei released (in the Netherlands) in 2018. How did people react on this book?

From what I saw the reviews were positive although it could have sold more copies.


Can you tell our readers where you got your inspiration to write this book and what can readers learn from your book?

As I said before I channeled the book and as a writer I was a secretary for the message within. My book is rather dynamic and deals with both love in apartheid and mental health so there are a lot of lessons to be taken from it.

How did the writing process go?

Pretty easy.

If your book  were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters? 

Wow – good question, but I would like to play the central character Sandile.

What do you aspire to as a writer?

To live a meaningful and honest life

Are you writing a new book? So yes, which one?

I just finished my new book “The Original Laws” which is a coffee table book.

Do you think that social media had a great impact on the sales of your books if you use it?

No I think social media is overrated.

Are you married or do you have a relationship? And children?

I am married and have two children. 

Are you religious? Which religion do you practice?

I am a practicing methodist.

Did you experience racism in your life so yes can you share it with us?

Not too much as I don’t put myself if compromising positions.

You also have a blog https://myminimalist.co.za/about What does blogging means to you?

It´s a mental health care app for people suffering from mental health care issues where people can get advise of their mental health care journey.

Do you read blogs as well so yes can  you mention your favorite bloggers or blogs?

Not really.

What’s the last book you read?

Murakami – Men without women.

What is the best job you ever had?

I used to be a researcher at Skandia Insurance Company when I was younger in Sweden and that was my favorite job.

 Do you like to travel. So yes which countries did you visit?

Yes but with my children its a bit difficult because they are young. But I would like to go to Rome next and see the vatican.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as a reclusive millionaire living between South Africa and Europe.

What are your hobbies?

Writing is my hobby.

Do you have tips for new writers?

Be confident in your message as God does not give you a skill for nothing and be persistent and never give up because the opportunity come just as you’re about to give up.


6 thoughts on “Exclusive: Interview with Dumani Mandela

  1. Dit boek staat op mijn lijstje voor kerst, want ik heb ooit een opstel geschreven over Nelson Mandela en sindsdien fascineert zijn leven mij enorm, dus dit boek wil ik dolgraag lezen.

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