Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

How can anyone reject the request of lovely young aspiring professionals who can walk confidently to you and ask; please, can you be my mentor?

I came face to face with that touching request last week and it evoked a lot of emotions in me.

At a public function a few years ago, bemoaning the deteriorating situation our society found itself with the lawlessness and impunities that had swallowed us up, the speaker made a passionate appeal to all grownups to help serve as mentors. 

He called on traditional leaders, political champions, parents, Christians, Muslims, professionals and any adult of sound mind, to take on active roles as mentors to our youth and teach them proper values in life.

Role models

He said whether, at the home, workplace, church, mosque or marketplace, people should take on role model roles and pull along the youth from down the pit to successful paths when one finds them going astray.

He believed that if mentoring was made an active part of our lives, and the successful were training and shepherding others who needed help to pull through, the sum total of the stars that will glitter Ghana’s skies would be simply amazing.

There would be more God-or Allah-fearing people and the impunities, lawlessness, indiscriminate littering, mad rush for money which has brought in its wake all sorts of misdemeanours, respect for others and many more, would be brought to manageable levels.

How I agreed with the speaker then and as I recollect today, his appeal has become even more relevant now, years later.

I have had several opportunities to mentor young people in Journalism and Public Relations. It has been a pride to me to see some of my mentees rise up to assume positions of authority. Some of them are now lecturers in Media Studies and some others are in middle management positions in corporate communications and PR.

The seed of mentorship sown in a few are now multiplying in various spheres. Who knows how many others they are also mentoring or serving as role models?

So when last week, after a professional accreditation lecture two young ladies confidently walked up to me and asked me if I could be their mentees in PR and Corporate Communications, I had no reason to hesitate.


I accepted the challenge, remembering the wise appeal of the speaker I listened to years ago as well as how I myself have benefited greatly from my mentees in my professional life and what I had also invested in others in return.

The bold request of the young aspiring professionals has reminded me that the younger generation is looking up to us the older ones to shape them up for the future. They have reminded me that in our everyday lives, in our communities and in the wider world, our actions and inactions are having some impact on others.

Once out there, in our utterance, our dressing, and how we relate to others, there is something in us that appeal to or repels others who are watching or listening to us.

That is why sometimes, one looks at the impunities and recklessness going on in our societies with some modicum of regret and disappointment. One wonders about the kind of legacies one’s conduct out there communicates to the wider world outside us and generations after us. 

The politically charged atmosphere, the discourses in public spaces, and the insults and disrespect for people as old as, if not older than our parents, leave a lot to be desired. Who, in that kind of atmosphere is asking who to mentor them? What role models are being created in a poisoned environment?

Growing up

Growing up, one saw great role models and mentors in one’s parents. Wayward absentee parents have multiplied with time. Can such parents play that role in this kind of environment today? Help is definitely needed.

At the university, one was old enough to choose one’s mentor from the lecturers one had. With so much active partisan politics on campuses, I keep asking myself if those many role models are left these days.

In the world of work, a few more role models and mentors came along one’s way. I was privileged to have encountered several mentors in my entire working life. 

I saw and met a few more outside work who virtually shepherd my life as a young mother and professional woman. A few more came along in my spiritual journey and imparted the values of Christian living to me.  I still have some of them around, active in my life.

Even though I never met her, Mrs Winnie Mandela became my distant role model. I loved her vibrancy, her beauty, her loyalty and how she fought apartheid, a system that separated her and her husband.

How I wish, like the two one-week-old mentees of mine, I had gathered the courage to send her a letter, asking if she would be my mentor.

Mentees and role models can shape an individual and eventually society. As our young ones search hard for mentors and get mentored, let us also reach out and help. Mentors are badly needed.


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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.