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Siphelelisiwe Ntombela

South Africa & University of the Witwatersrand, 2023

Siphelelisiwe Ntombela is an urban planner, baker, environmentalist and creative based in Johannesburg. She has experience working in the private sector as a development economist and assisting local municipalities with planning for their economy and land uses.

More recently, she has worked at the South African Cities Network in advancing spatial transformation and inclusion of marginalised voices in development planning. Her most recent role was at C40 Cities Climate Leadership, a global network of mayors advancing climate action, where she supported research on quantifying the job creation potential of climate action and advocating for an equitable distribution of green jobs.

She advances her ideals through collective efforts under youth-led NGOs, such as Bantu Lab, which is a collective of spatial development professionals that engage with the critical relationships between design, spatial justice and cultural expression. Bantu Lab has initiated several educational design studios with students, exhibitions and publications to document black youth culture and re-imagine (through design) the future of previously disadvantaged communities.

She is also part of Exotically Divine Pulse, a placemaking NPO based in the inner city of Johannesburg, that promotes a healthy lifestyle through African vegetarian foods, community gardening and nature art. The organisation is rehabilitating the Drill Hall, a neglected heritage site, and revitalising it by introducing vertical gardens, creative waste management and the nature art gallery.

Originally from Durban, Siwe is pursuing her Master’s in Urban Studies at Witswatersrand University.

DecorationSiphelelisiwe Ntombela

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 2023, 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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