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The Mandela Rhodes Foundation quarter two 2020 update

Published 30 June 2020

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Dear Stakeholders

Our quarter one update was distributed around the time the first few African countries started to lock down in late March 2020. Who knew that life on the African continent would change so significantly in just three months? The Covid-19 pandemic has not only changed the way we work, but also the way we live and relate to each other. Amidst all the uncertainty, we are proud of the resilience and adaptability shown by our staff and Mandela Rhodes Scholars, who have continued to be of value to the purpose and work of the Foundation. We hope this quarter two update lifts your spirits, and that you continue to remain safe and well wherever you are in the world.

Historic appointment of Mandela Rhodes alumnus to Board of Trustees

We are delighted to announce that Dr Osmond Mlonyeni has accepted a nomination to become a Trustee of the Board of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation. Osmond is the first-ever alumnus of The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship to join the Board of Trustees, making his appointment a historic first in the life of the MRF. The Trustees resolved to appoint Osmond at the annual Board meeting held on Monday, 8 June 2020. Osmond replaces Mr Achmat Dangor, who retired after several years of distinguished service to the Foundation. For more information and to read Osmond’s bio, visit our website

Thought Leadership: Africa Day Webinar

On Africa Day 2020, we partnered with The Higherlife Foundation to host a webinar on Re-Imagining African Agency in Times of Crisis. The webinar offered a rich inter-generational dialogue on how Africans can use the window of opportunity provided by Covid-19 to fundamentally shift the systems and dynamics that are holding our continent back. We were joined by an audience of over 670 young Africans. Keynote remarks were made by the Chairs of the two Foundations, Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele and Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa. MR alumni Barbara Karuana (Kenya & Africa, 2016) and Daniel Ndima (South Africa & UP, 2015) participated in the panel discussion along with Higherlife alumni. Read our reflective overview of key themes.

Thought leadership: Daily Maverick op-ed on Ubuntu during Covid-19

As a Nelson Mandela legacy organisation with a Pan-African vision and community, we have been deeply concerned about the vulnerable position of marginalised African foreign nationals in South Africa during the Covid-19 lockdown. In addition to our organisational relief project (details follow below), we published an article in the Daily Maverick calling for South Africans to embrace the principle of Ubuntu and ensure that asylum seekers and refugees from outside our borders are not overlooked in the fight against Covid-19. Read the article here.

Programme update: Inaugural virtual Second Year Programme & online adaptation

The Mandela Rhodes journey has always taken place in person, through our residential workshops. When South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown ensued in March, the Programmes Team was presented with an opportunity to create innovative, valuable and purpose aligned online programming. In May, we piloted the MRF’s first-ever online module with our Class of 2019 Second Years. The workshop model was adapted into an online course, delivered in six sessions over three weeks. The content was adjusted in order to be both deliverable online and responsive to the realities of the pandemic. Module 1 of the Second Year Programme focused on further deepening self-leadership and understanding critical community engagement. Module 2 will take place online in August. The remainder of the First Year Programme (the Mid-year and Completion Workshops) will also be offered online this year.

Selecting the Class of 2021

The global Covid-19 pandemic required us to re-evaluate our approach such as extending the application deadline and centralising Round 1 of reviewing. Despite Covid-19, the final number of applications remained steady with 1,422 completed (1,605 for Class of 2020 process), which was achieved by our Pan-African outreach campaign. We received applications from 13 countries which have not yet had Scholars. Round 2 of reviewing will commence at the end of June.

Alumni Relations: Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarships awarded

In a symbolic tribute to our Founding Executive Director, the Leverhulme Trust formally renamed the LMRDS to the Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarships in 2020. We are pleased to announce that the successful candidates are Tangang Andrew Tangang (Cameroon & Stellenbosch University, 2018) and Musa Mdunge (South Africa & Monash University, 2016). The quality of the applications was excellent, and we are confident that Tangang and Musa are undertaking studies that will have significant positive impact both in their chosen fields and in African society. Learn more about the successful candidates.

Alumni relations: Covid-19 gatherings and thought leadership response

The alumni relations team hosted a series of Zoom gatherings to support and connect alumni as lockdown went into effect across the continent in March and April. Alumni who participated noted that the gatherings provided them with community, encouragement and renewed strength for their leadership efforts. Alumni have also responded to the pandemic by writing Covid-19 thought leadership pieces on the subjects of Africa’s health response, common misconceptions about the virus, and lessons for educators in Africa.

Finally, we are particularly proud of Daniel Ndima (South Africa & UCT, 2015) who has made a significant contribution to the Covid-19 battle. His applied genomics company CapeBio recently developed qPCR testing kits for Covid-19 that can provide results within an hour.

MRF Covid-19 Relief Project

As the Covid-19 lockdown took hold, the MRF identified marginalised African foreign nationals in South Africa as a highly vulnerable group due to limited access to the available relief structures. We decided to redirect funds from our unused 2020 travel and accommodation budget, and to partner with alumni to enhance our efforts. Alumni were invited to nominate vulnerable households of foreign nationals and to donate as our Alumni giving drive for this year. 62 alumni nominated beneficiaries, enabling us to reach 127 extremely vulnerable households. With over half a million rand combined contributions from the MRF, alumni and generous external stakeholders, we have and will continue to provide vouchers of R1,000 to 127 households over a period of a few months. This translates to a total number of 543 beneficiaries, who hail from 16 African countries: Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Thank you to all the alumni who participated in this project – we salute your efforts.

Yearbook 2019

The MRF team has been busy compiling the highlights of 2019 and creating our annual yearbook, which we are pleased to share with you. Download your digital copy here.

With warm regards,
Judy Sikuza
CEO
The Mandela Rhodes Foundation

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