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Mandela Rhodes Foundation celebrates 20 years of developing exceptional leaders on the African continent

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Mandela Rhodes Foundation celebrates 20 years of developing exceptional leaders on the African continent

Published 23 May 2023

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(Cape Town, South Africa) 23 May 2023 - The Mandela Rhodes Foundation (MRF) is delighted to announce its 20th anniversary celebration, a milestone that coincides with the 10th anniversary of the passing of former President Nelson Mandela, the founding patron of the Foundation.

The Foundation has several plans between May and July to mark this special milestone. Formalities will kick off on 25 May with an Africa Day celebration with alumni and stakeholders hosted by the CEO of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, Judy Sikuza, in New York City. The event will celebrate and reflect on the past 20 years, and also aim to create awareness about its mission to new stakeholders who will attend the event.

The first 20 years of the MRF’s history and achievements have been captured in a new book titled The Audacious Experiment: The Mandela Rhodes Story, co-authored by Shaun Johnson, the late founding CEO of the MRF, and Professor Elleke Boehmer. The book tells the founding story of the MRF, and features past scholars and their impactful contributions to Africa's development.

The book will be launched on Friday the 14th of July, and the celebrations will culminate in a gala evening on Saturday the 15th, featuring a special performance by the Ndlovu Youth Choir. Both events will feature panel discussions with VIP guests on the theme The courage to be unpopular: lessons on leading in complex times, as a way of bringing Nelson Mandela’s leadership legacy to life in the present moment.

Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele, Chairman of the MRF’s board, said “The Mandela Rhodes Foundation was tasked by Mr Mandela with developing exceptional leadership capacity for all African nations. We are tremendously proud of what The Foundation has been able to achieve in its first 20 years. As we prepare the next generation for success, we see that Africa will need ethical leaders with outstanding education, and the skills to bring people together across all kinds of divides. I am confident that The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is poised to meet this need.”

“We are reflecting on our journey by celebrating our history and the impact of the Mandela Rhodes Scholars. At our events, we will honour friends of the Foundation who have played vital roles in our past as well as our emerging future. The 10-year anniversary of Madiba’s passing is an apt moment to reflect on his leadership approach, principles and lessons, and their relevance in today’s complex, global context. As part of these celebrations, we are therefore convening thought leaders to inspire our audiences, drawing on lessons from their own leadership journeys and that of Mr Mandela,” said Judy Sikuza, CEO of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

At the core of the Foundation’s programmes are the principles of reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship, and leadership. To date, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation has awarded 622 scholarships to outstanding young scholars and future leaders from 33 African countries and across 35 disciplines.

Many of them have gone on to have impactful careers, advancing the Africa envisioned by Mandela, who wanted to “close the circle of history” when the Foundation was launched by utilising Cecil John Rhodes’s resources for the advancement of Africa and helping to address the inequalities that resulted from the grave legacies of colonialism and apartheid.

Despite the many strides that have been made on the African continent to develop the next generation of leaders, more needs to be done to give talented people access to opportunities – especially young people, many of whom have the potential to further their careers with advanced educational opportunities.

Sikuza concluded ‘We hope that by celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela through a series of events across the world, we can activate the ubuntu and positive change we all need’.


More about The Mandela Rhodes Foundation

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation offers young leaders from across the African continent a chance to become part of Nelson Mandela’s legacy of transformative impact. We offer a life-changing opportunity for personal growth via a prestigious postgraduate scholarship and Leadership Development Programme for those who want to use their talents to serve Africa. Since our inception in 2003, we have selected 622 Mandela Rhodes Scholars from 33 African countries. The Mandela Rhodes Foundation was founded in 2003 by Mr Mandela in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, the home of the Rhodes Scholarship based at the University of Oxford.

For further information, interview or image requests, please contact Refiloe Mononela

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