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The Scholars

Yamkela Ntshakaza

South Africa & University of Cape Town, 2023

Yamkela Ntshakaza holds a Bachelor of Music with distinction, as well as a Bachelor of Music Honours from Rhodes University.

He is a gentle but firm leader, an advocate for academic excellence and, like many scholars before, a partisan of mental wellness. He stands for the principles of honesty, sincerity, and kindness, using these and many others, as the foundations from which his empathetic style of leadership is built.

As a Mandela Rhodes scholar, Yamkela will pursue a Master of Music dissertation in African Ethnomusicology at the University of Cape Town. During his time at Rhodes University, he was a 2019 recipient of the prestigious Golden Key Academic Excellence Award, as well as a 2022 recipient of the Rhodes University Top 100 Award in the category of Student Leadership.

Yamkela’s research interests lie in the ubiquitous agency of music as an empowering and equally disempowering societal influence. Through research and fieldwork at the International Library of African Music (ILAM), he has studied the complex relationship between music and the cultures in which it is performed and experienced. Moreover, as a scholar of Music Psychology, he grows curious about the positive neurological reactions triggered by music therapy in the treatment of mental illness. Yamkela one day hopes to establish his hometown’s first creative arts therapy centre: a collaborative effort toward reduced mental illness that is championed by students, ethnomusicologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, and all relevant community stakeholders. He knows he can not make life easier for anyone, but rather endeavours to facilitate people toward their innate strength to live a quality life.

DecorationYamkela Ntshakaza

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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