Brand Ambassador for the Thanda Group and Star for Life Ambassador
Princess Nandi Zulu comes from the beautiful town of KwaNongoma, which is in northern Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal. She is the fourth child of Queen Buhle kaMathe and the late Zulu King, Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu.
Princess Nandi explained that she wears many hats. A role that really resonates with her is that she is the brand ambassador for the Thanda Group, which owns a game reserve in Hluhluwe in northern Zululand. Princess Nandi is also the Star for Life ambassador, an initiative that supports schools in rural Hluhluwe, in townships, and in Namibia and Sweden.
In commenting on her life thus far, Princess Nandi says this journey is something to which she feels she was born. She explains, “My journey was motivated by my late father who wanted me to be part of Thanda Group, so that I could interact with the local communities and market the hospitality industry for economic upliftment. He was passionate about conservation and the protection of animals, especially rhino, not just solely for one game reserve, but as a collective, which is something very powerful.”
Princess Nandi is the first princess to don a parachute to create awareness and raise funds for the protection of the rhino, in the ‘Jump for Rhino’ initiative. She commented, “Pierre Delvaux, who’s the CEO of Thanda actually challenged me and I did not hesitate. The jump was life changing for me because I never thought I would jump out of an airplane.”
Princess Nandi said that she had an interesting childhood. At an early age she was sent to Swaziland to live with her aunt and attended preschool there. She then went to various boarding schools and completed her matric at St Anne’s College in Hilton.
Following matric she went to Pretoria to study business communication and also completed a management advanced programme at Wits Business School. After working full time at a communications company, fast forward, Princess Nandi found herself back in KZN.
Princess Nandi added, “I am really living my passion working with communities and young people. I’m always looking at different opportunities on how I can assist and contribute to society.”
Power of dreams
However, her journey has not come without challenges, the primary one is seeing poverty. Princess Nandi explains, “I take it personally, because as somebody who comes from the royal family, I feel that I have the responsibility to contribute towards the upliftment of the community.” She added that she is honoured to serve because that is when you receive much more in due time.
She added, “I’m where I am because somebody motivated me. It’s important that every day we speak to young people, guide them and be an example to say, you can achieve.”
The Star for Life programme is an initiative that motivates learners to dream. The programme’s coaches are passionate in making learners understand the power of dreaming and pushing them to realise their dreams. “I’ve seen the success of the programme, where the kids light up when they realise that they can do so much more outside of school, they can dream to be big things. Not everyone’s going to achieve academically, so why not try and harness other passions such as in the arts. They can do wonderful things,” explained Princess Nandi.
Princess Nandi’s own foundation’s goal is to assist learners to further their careers after school.
Power of keeping calm
In advising any young person, Princess Nandi says, “Really try and keep calm, because things are thorny. Try and draw more from your inner self. If not, find people around you where you can draw strength to keep calm. We need to be resilient; we need to be strong and giving up is not an option, challenges are there to teach us to be strong.”
Princess Nandi added that she has come from a very traditional background. As a Zulu and a member of the royal family she needs to uphold her stand on tradition and not shy away from who she is because that’s her identity. However, she has identified the need to evolve a little bit because the world is evolving.
Her message is that the values you live by, start at home, the way you are brought up by your parents or the elders in your family, should be your guide. “It’s very difficult in this world, because sometimes you get exposed to so many things and you forget to uphold values like respect, being brave, being kind, being forgiving, and being compassionate.”
Princess Nandi is currently writing a book about her late father, which she had planned to finish before he passed. As his death was a painful experience, she could not write for a while. She added, “It was also a time where I was drawing strength, just solidifying the memories that I had of him and learning to survive without him. I am pinning down the way I understood my father and the privilege of knowing such a great king not just as a daughter, but as a citizen of South Africa, as a citizen of KwaZulu-Natal and of Nongoma.”
In her free time, Princess Nandi has many things that she likes to do to unwind. These include going to the beach, where she enjoys walking in the sun. She added, “I’m a volunteer at my church. I encourage others to get involved in local community organisations or supporting local churches in any way, including your free time. There are many hands needed in society, nothing is too trivial to receive a blessing.”
In conclusion, Princess Nandi says that it has been an honour to be nominated as a KZN Top Business Woman. “It’s lovely to be nominated, because sometimes you just keep going and you don’t realise that someone is watching – it’s a journey I think every woman should experience.”