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On Mandela Day of 2020 we unveiled The Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s new logo and visual identity. Here we share the meaning of our inspiring logo and the story behind it.

Seeds of change

The purpose of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa. We do this through the Mandela Rhodes Scholars, who are seeds of purpose and change that seek to have a positive impact in Africa, collectively entrusted with the legacy of our founding patron, Nelson Mandela. In our new logo these seeds are rendered as unique circles, forming a mosaic of Madiba’s face which represents this collective embodiment of his legacy. The logo makes use of colourful concentric circles, signifying the ripple effects of positive change that our alumni bring about in their communities, societies, and the world. The diverse circles of the mosaic symbolise the strength to be found in embracing our differences. They also represent the contributions of all stakeholders, including trustees, staff, donors and supporters. The refreshed design is an inclusive invitation to all members of the MRF family to play their part in transforming the African continent into a place where everyone has equal opportunity to thrive.

Our visual evolution

The journey to refreshing our brand began in March 2019. The objective was to gain a 360° view of the Mandela Rhodes brand after 17 years of existence. We gathered input from staff, stakeholders, and alumni, and did a deep dive into our founding documents. We considered what makes the MRF and its leadership development programme unique, and how we could harness that in our visual identity to best support the intended impact of our work. This process led us to a clearer-than-ever articulation of our identity as an organisation, providing the basis for our new look.

Who we are

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation was founded in 2003 by Nelson Mandela in partnership with the Rhodes Trust. Forming the partnership was a considered act of reconciliation and, specifically, reparation: a way to return some of Cecil John Rhodes’s wealth to its origins in Africa. Mr Mandela’s intention was to “close the circle of history” by utilising Rhodes’s resources for the advancement of Africa, helping to address the inequalities that result from the grave legacies of colonialism and apartheid.

Our purpose is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa. We find, fund, and empower young Africans who aspire to use their talents to serve their societies and our continent. We do this by providing a postgraduate scholarship for young leaders to study in South Africa and participate in a residential Leadership Development Programme. Our programme is built on Mr Mandela’s belief that leadership begins with inner transformation, and our founding principles of reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Over the past 17 years the MRF has awarded over 500 Mandela Rhodes Scholarships to young leaders from 28 African countries.

Your part in something greater

In the early years of the MRF, each new class of Mandela Rhodes Scholars had the opportunity to meet Mr Mandela in person. As Suntosh Pillay (South Africa & UKZN, 2008) shook Madiba’s hand, he asked him what his dream was. Madiba replied: “My dream? My dream has started already. Here you are.” All Mandela Rhodes Scholars, alumni, staff and stakeholders are part of realising this dream. At its core, our new logo and look invite all of us to play our part in collectively delivering the transformative impact that Madiba envisioned for the benefit of present and future generations.

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