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Celebrating today's outstanding African leaders, 20 years since the Mandela Rhodes Foundation launched

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Celebrating today's outstanding African leaders, 20 years since the Mandela Rhodes Foundation launched

Published 27 September 2023

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On 2 July 2003, after entering Westminster Hall to a tumultuous standing ovation and being welcomed to the podium by former US President and Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Mandela set out in detail the reasons for the establishment of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, as well as his hopes for its future contribution in Africa. The Foundation was heralded as a symbol of a new era of equal relations between Britain and South Africa. Two decades later in Johannesburg, Mandela’s official legacy organisation for leadership development is proud to be celebrating 20 years of developing exceptional leaders from across sectors in South Africa and the wider region.

On the 28th of September the Foundation will celebrate this milestone by reigniting its relationships with leaders of British business and diplomacy. The British High Commission in South Africa and The British Chamber of Business in Southern Africa will host a reception at Henley Business School Africa. “Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary and inspiring leadership has moved generations of people around the globe. South Africa and the UK share a commitment to strengthening our education systems so that young people can access equal opportunities. It is an honour and privilege to be celebrating this milestone alongside the Mandela Rhodes Foundation,” said British High Commissioner Antony Philipson.

The event will be held at Henley Business School Africa in Sandton. Guests will include senior executives of British businesses operating in Africa, members of the diplomatic corps and Mandela Rhodes Scholars playing leading roles in sectors ranging from finance to public policy. Justice Edwin Cameron will give a keynote speech, exploring the future of African youth and the prospects of building a common humanity.

“Nelson Mandela envisioned an Africa that could take its rightful place on the global stage, represented by leaders of outstanding moral clarity. We are proud to be developing those leaders, and we look forward to strengthening our relationships with those in the British business community who can support our mission,” said MRF CEO Judy Sikuza.

To date, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation has awarded 622 scholarships to students from 33 African countries, studying in 35 different disciplines. Professor Jon Foster-Pedley, dean and director of Henley Business School Africa, commented: “The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is a wonderful – and highly successful - melding of the power of business with the vision and compassion of statesmanship. At Henley Africa, it is an article of faith that businesses build Africa, but building the leaders that will build those businesses requires more than a crude understanding of the bottom line. True leaders build sustainable businesses that endure, that create an immediate and lasting impact on the people that they employ and the communities in which they operate. It is something we need now more than ever in a world increasingly beset by man-made crises and especially in a country such as South Africa with its appalling Gini co-efficient. This is something that the Mandela Rhodes scholarships have done so much to achieve over the last two decades.”

The British Chamber of Business in Southern Africa added: “The role of education in building more democratic societies and informed citizens capable of reaching their full potential, while always important, has never been more critical in a time rife with inequality and discord. Schools, universities and executive training programmes are stages where young people and leaders of the future find refuge, expression and purpose. Are we as business getting it right with regards to our role in society? Occasions and partnerships like this are opportunities to evaluate our contributions and align what we stand for with our actions.”

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