In Johannesburg, South Africa, a country once divided by racial segregation, Nelson Mandela used his life to fight for education and equal opportunities for all. Mandela, former President of South Africa, experienced a life filled with struggle, but one that allowed him the opportunity to meet South Africans, understand their own struggles, and fight for racial equality.
In a career that was typically occupied by white men, Nelson Mandela received a law degree to aid his efforts in the right to education and the right for equal opportunities for all. Nelson Mandela’s efforts would not only inspire but allow for men and women across South Africa like Kealeboga and Ursula Pule, founders of Nungu Diamonds, to actively pursue their dreams.
In 2008, Kealeboga Pule was set to finish his degree at North-West University in South Africa. With a passion for business and the work ethic to achieve his dreams, Kealeboga desired a true direction and niche for his business. It was 2008 that Kealeboga would meet his future wife, Ursula, whose talent would allow her to pursue a degree in fashion and technology. Though their paths were different, their unique skill sets would prepare them for their journeys ahead.
While Ursula worked in Johannesburg as a personal assistant in fashion, Kealeboga was introduced to the diamond industry through a man who would later become his mentor.
Through his own research and the consistent advice and wisdom from his mentor, Kealeboga developed a passion and love for diamonds. He knew that in South Africa, as a Black man in a country with a complicated past, to sell diamonds, he needed to learn how to cut and polish diamonds.
“If I had seen a young, Black person in the diamond industry when I was 12 years old, I can only imagine the impact it would have made on me and believing that my dreams were possible,” Kealeboga said. “My dreams would have been impossible 30 years ago.”
In 2013, Kealeboga started Nungu Diamonds in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“There was nothing more exciting to me than being young and Black and trying to achieve my dreams,” Kealeboga said.
Nungu Diamonds started as a wholesale retailer, but has developed into a manufacturer as well.
“We wanted to offer South Africans a very unique diamond-buying experience,” Kealeboga said. “I was raised in a small town in the north west part of South Africa about three hours from Johannesburg and people didn’t really talk about diamonds.
People in South Africa need to know the good that diamonds do, and this needs to be demonstrated and not just spoken about.”
It was in 2007, when Nelson Mandela met with Diamonds Do Good Co-Founders including Civil Rights Activist, Dr. Benjamin Chavis. Mandela personally encouraged them to establish a global nonprofit organization that would “bring more awareness about the benefits to Africa that are derived from the good that diamonds do.”
One of Mandela’s passions was for education, not only the education of students, but also the education of the people in South Africa and the good that diamonds are doing in their own backyards.
Nungu Diamonds takes inspiration from Mandela’s words as they too truly desire to educate South Africans on all of the good that diamonds are doing in their own backyards through offering their customers the opportunities to see and touch diamonds while telling them where the diamonds come from.
“You would assume people would know about the mining that happens in South Africa,” Kealeboga said. “But often times, that is not the case. This shows the importance of education and constantly pushing the relative and relatable message of Diamonds Do Good.”
Kealeboga and Ursula’s vision for their company crystalized through a trip to De Beer’s Venetia Mine in South Africa. Not only did they see where the diamonds were being mined, they were able to see who the diamonds were directly impacting.
Last year, Nungu Diamonds’ efforts were awarded by having the opportunity to create jewelry during the pandemic for the televised wedding of a gay, Black celebrity couple in South Africa. This opportunity allowed their business to receive a platform to inspire young, Black children all across South Africa to achieve their dreams.
The team at Nungu Diamonds and Kealeboga and Ursula Pule are not only the blueprint of how Diamonds Do Good, they are truly the lasting impact of Nelson Mandela’s legacy in South Africa.