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Merlyn Nkomo

Zimbabwe & University of Cape Town, 2020

Merlyn is a Conservation Biologist at heart and Ornithologist by profession. Her career focus is in sustainability and natural resources management in Africa for the betterment of communities and economic growth. As an African in the field of conservation science, she is not only passionate about the scientific pursuit but also that of equality, transformation and inclusivity in science and more so in natural resource management. As an African woman, she sees herself as a storyteller seeking to tell African conservation stories in a representative and just way. In her work, she is a strategist and she endeavours to create spaces of learning and mentorship for young people and women through initiatives like the youth birding club that she founded and the One Woman's Legacy Scholarship for African Women in Conservation, which she authored. Merlyn is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town studying The Movement Ecology of Jackal Buzzards around Wind Energy Facilities in South Africa. Her life goal is to bridge the gap between science and communities for the development and implementation of socially relevant policy frameworks, and the adaptation of communities to climate change and natural resource sustainability. In her spare time, she is a blogger/writer/poet, photographer and loves to read and travel.

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Could you be a Mandela Rhodes Scholar?

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Could you be a Scholar?


We look for young Africans who have demonstrated the potential to embody our founding principles of reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

On 1 January 2024, I will be between the age of 19 and 29

I am a citizen of an African country

I have an undergraduate degree with above-average academic results (70% + or Upper Second Class Honours)


We look for young leaders who aspire to the principles below and who have demonstrated the potential to live them out.


Do you aspire to be a visionary leader who has moral authority? Do you see leadership as more than just personal ambition - as a way to pursue the advancement of equality and freedom, human rights and human dignity? And do you want to guide and inspire others to reach their full potential?


Do you admire Nelson Mandela’s ability to bridge historic divides through our common humanity? Do you believe that reconciliation and reparation are the key to transforming our societies so that everyone can have equal opportunity to thrive? And are you prepared to begin by grappling with your own internal divides and difficulties first?


Do you have excellent academic results, but believe that your education should not only benefit you but make a difference to others? And do you understand that intellectual excellence must be accompanied by character and a rounded personality?


Do you want to see Africa take its rightful place as an equal and competitive presence in the global world? Have you demonstrated individual effort, innovation and creativity to this end?


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