Mandla Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela and Chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, moved an audience of more than 800 to tears when he spoke about the importance of compassion at UNSW this week.

In a speech entitled Mandela's Legacy - the Next Challenges for South Africa, Mandla talked about his famous family, his relationship with his grandfather, the struggle against apartheid and the significance of Mandela's 90th birthday.

He also spoke about the new challenges South Africa faces, including poverty and HIV/AIDS.

Mandla's father, Nelson Mandela's last surviving son, Makgatho Mandela, passed away in 2005 of AIDS-related complications.

Nelson Mandela gave up his Xhosa leadership nearly 70 years ago to fight white rule in South Africa. When the tribe asked him to reclaim his position in 2007, he suggested his grandson assume the role.

When Mandla, a politics graduate of Rhodes University, became Chief in 2007, he was only 32 years old. His duties involve tribal ceremonies, settling disputes among members, and representing the tribe on political issues.

"Monarchy and tribal leadership have a substantial role to play in the continued democratisation of the country and I am thankful that this role will allow me to follow in my grandfather's footsteps," he said.

Mandla spoke as part of the UNSW Global Leaders Lecture series. His visit to Australia to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday was courtesy of MaAfrika Tikkun, a non-governmental non-profit organisation.

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