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September 2021 stakeholder update

Foundation News

September 2021 stakeholder update

Mandela’s legacy in divided times & update on new prize

Published 30 September 2021

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Dear stakeholders

Spring has arrived in Cape Town and it’s an exciting season at the MRF as we prepare to award the new Äänit Prize, begin the selections process for the Class of 2022, and continue to build our thought leadership. I hope that you enjoy the latest news from the Foundation as we continue to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa.

Update on alumni prize and invitation to awards evening

Selections for the first-ever Äänit Prize are going well. The applications are inspiring and have great potential to drive positive social impact in Africa, in sectors ranging from health to agriculture and educational technology. Seven finalists will be put forward to an independent panel of judges, and we are pleased to invite you to join us virtually for the live announcement of the winners on the 23rd of October, at 17h30 SAST (GMT+2). It will be an evening of inspiring conversation on social impact in Africa, networking with the Mandela Rhodes Scholars and Rhodes Scholars, and of course the big announcement! Please save the date.

Watch: unpacking the meaning of the Mandela legacy in divided times

On the 18th of July alumni joined us for a keynote speech by poet Lebogang Mashile. She shared a profound, challenging exploration of what we can take from Nelson Mandela's leadership when faced with an increasingly polarised and divided world - a timely topic for Mandela Day 2021. The speech has relevance for all our stakeholders and I recommend watching it here.

In late August the MRF participated in a seminar hosted by Nelson Mandela University. Professor Crain Soudien presented a paper on naming cultures, and the MRF and the Nelson Mandela Foundation provided responses exploring how the Mandela name is embedded into our ideals and practices. It was stimulating to be in conversation with our colleagues who share the responsibility of carrying the Mandela name.

Thought leadership on the SDGS

The MRF was also invited to participate in an international summit on the Sustainable Development Goals hosted by UCT. The panel was on partnerships for impact, a particularly important conversation in Africa because of the power dynamics inherent in international relationships. We highlighted the need to create trusting spaces for contesting restrictive historical dynamics in order to re-imagine new possibilities.

It’s exciting to see the SDGS gaining momentum in Africa, and to be contributing as the MRF. Alumni are also driving the conversation in this space: we recently published pieces on what to do about the IPCC climate report and hopes for the UN Food summit by alumni.

Programme news

The Class of 2021 has experienced a hybrid programme of virtual modules and small in-person meetups. Module three took place in September. This year it took the form of experiential pod learning journeys with the aim of exploring reconciliation and reparation in action. Module four is scheduled for November.

The second-year programme for the Class of 2020 is drawing to a close, and scholars are in the final stages of completing their projects with support from their UN Women advisors. We look forward to hearing their proposed interventions to the development challenges they have been working on at their final module in late October, where they will present on key issues such as social protection, youth unemployment and policy implementation.

Selections season for the Class of 2022

The MRF team is preparing for another year of virtual selections for our flagship programme. The three selection committees will meet in October to interview and select what will become the 18th cohort of Mandela Rhodes Scholars.

I wish all our stakeholders well as we enter the final quarter of 2021.


Judy Sikuza

CEO The Mandela Rhodes Foundation

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