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It has been a frenetic three months at the MRF since my last update in mid-May – but for very positive reasons, as you will read below in a summary of recent Foundation activity.

The Mid-year Workshops for the Class of 2017

The always-intense Mid-year Workshops took place successfully in the first two weeks of July at Devon Valley, Stellenbosch, expertly facilitated by the MRF team and our highly valued colleagues from Reos Partners. Invited speakers included Justice Yvonne Mokgoro (a founding MRF Trustee), Achmat Dangor (MRF Trustee), Justice Edwin Cameron (former SA Rhodes Scholarships National Secretary), Leila Akahloun (Special Advisor to Mrs Graça Machel), and Ndumiso Luthuli (SA Rhodes National Secretary). MRS Alumni from various cohorts also gave much appreciated inputs: Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase (Rwanda & UKZN 2006), Ayanda Khala-Phiri (SA & Wits 2007), Dr Marlon (Burgess) Swai (SA & UCT 2007), and Elnari Potgieter (SA & Stellenbosch 2012). Scholars in attendance rated the Workshops very highly.

Executive and Deputy Executive Director’s busy interactions with other organisations

Both Judy and I – along with a number of Mandela Rhodes Scholars – represented the MRF during the 10th year anniversary visit of The Elders, an organisation to which our late Founding Patron lent his support. In addition I participated in the latest meeting convened by the Graça Machel Trust and the Mandela Institute for Development Studies which, as I have reported previously to MRF stakeholders, is exploring the possibilities of an African Youth Development Network. It was a source of pride that Julia (Cloete) Levin (MRS SA & UCT 2005) facilitated the consultation. Judy’s travels included a visit to Kenya, where she presented to Oxford University Press East Africa staff, as well as hosting a very well attended gathering of Mandela Rhodes Scholars which MRF Trustee Janet Kabiru joined. Judy also addressed the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, and visited KwaZulu Natal as keynote speaker to a school principals’ conference, while also catching up with the Mandela Rhodes Community (MRC).

MRF-Alumni engagement framework finalised

Spurred on by MRF Programme Associate Coralie Valentyn (SA & UWC 2014), a superb Alumni Engagement Framework document has been produced. It details the many existing forms of interaction between the Foundation and Alumni, but also prefigures new initiatives such as a magazine, further physical convening, and increased collaboration with like-minded organisations. My sincere appreciation to the multi-talented, multi-disciplinary Team MRF.

Shortlisting process for the Class of 2018 Mandela Rhodes Scholars in full swing

Round three of the extremely rigorous selection process for the Class of 2018 Mandela Rhodes Scholars is well under way – shortlisting for final interviews. More news in the next update.



Cape Town meeting of the Board of Trustees of the MRF completed – with exciting news

The Board of Trustees on 14 and 15 May and confirmed that the target of ‘100 Mandela Rhodes Scholars in residence by the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth’ remains on track for our 15th anniversary in 2018. This is subject as always to financial sustainability, and we will be launching a fundraising campaign to support additional Scholars in Madiba’s honour. The MRF was delighted to welcome its newest Trustee, Mrs Janet Kabiru, who is also National Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships in Kenya. Board events included an informal lunch with Cape-based members of the MRS Class of 2017, and a joint reception for MRS alumni with locally-based Rhodes Scholars. All were a great success.

Inaugural Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholars selected

The inaugural Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholars have been selected! There was tremendous interest from alumni in the programme (our newest ‘baby’), leading up to final interviews earlier this month in the Mandela Rhodes boardroom, chaired by Professor Ndebele. Warmest congratulations to Mark John Burke (SA & UCT 2012) and Jolynne Mokaya (Kenya & Stellenbosch 2016). They will be pursuing PhD studies in the UK in these respective fields: ‘Emerging market GAP Housing’, and ‘The impact of sub-fertility and successful fertility treatment on the long-term mental health of women’. Go Mandela Rhodes Scholars!

Memorable Introductory Workshops for the Class of 2017

Deputy Executive Director Judy Sikuza reports as follows: ‘With the Class of 2017 the MRF continued to embed the multiple group model approach successfully piloted in 2016. Both groups went through identically structured programmes, the only variation being guest speakers. Invited keynote speakers were Rhodes Scholar Mrs Janet Kabiru, (Kenya & St Hilda’s 1995) and Dr Nkosana Moyo from Zimbabwe, CEO of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies. An exciting addition was bringing in alumni Mandela Rhodes Scholars with expertise in leadership topics. Luzelle Yon Lestrade (Namibia & Stellenbosch 2006) and Rachel Nyaradzo Adams (Zimbabwe & UCT 2006) ran exceptional sessions.’

Update on applications process for the Class of 2018 Mandela Rhodes Scholars

Close to 9,000 registrations of interest were recorded by the time applications closed for the Class of 2018, and the four-step selection process is now in full swing with alumni reviewers hard at work.

The upcoming Mid-year Workshops in July

Plans are well advanced for these workshops, with most speakers confirmed – details in the next update.

#Kathrada – In Memorium

The MRF remembers with joy and deep appreciation the countless hours spent by Kathy in selecting Mandela Rhodes Scholars for more than a decade, and addressing their workshops. Just one more quiet contribution to his beloved continent by this humble giant.
Rest in peace, Kathy.
Shaun and the MRF team

Another Mandela Rhodes Scholar joins the Foundation

It gives me enormous pleasure to announce the appointment of Mandela Rhodes Scholar Coralie Valentyn (South Africa & University of the Western Cape, 2014 – biography attached) to the position of Programme Associate in the Foundation’s scholarships team.

Coralie will report to Deputy Executive Director Judy Sikuza (South Africa & Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, 2007).

Her appointment highlights two very important milestones in the development of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation in its second decade:

• The first is that our Mandela Rhodes Scholarships programme continues to grow rapidly in line with the plans approved by the Board of Trustees, and therefore requires additional capacity within the Scholarships team.
• The second is that our original dream – first expressed in 2003 – that the Foundation would over time draw significantly on its ‘graduated’ beneficiaries to take ownership of its development, is being realised. Our latest Yearbook is close to completion, and will contain details on how many Scholars are playing roles in all aspects of the Foundation – you might be pleasantly surprised by the scale of MR Scholar involvement!

Coralie is already hard at work on the 5th floor at Mandela Rhodes ‘HQ’, and my colleagues have commented that it already feels like she has been with us forever. In the role of Programme Associate, Coralie will pay special attention to alumni relations, aspects of our bespoke leadership development programme, as well as assigned projects and research. Coralie’s input will, importantly, give Judy much-needed support as her own role expands exponentially.

January 2017 update from the MRF


The MRF year is already in full swing with the MRF team making final preparations for the arrival of the Class of 2017 in Cape Town for their Introductory Workshop. But there is an even more excited and celebratory mood than usual in the Mandela Rhodes Building, with the announcement of an important new appointment at the Foundation.

Mandela Rhodes Scholar Judy Sikuza promoted to MRF Deputy Executive Director

I am truly delighted to announce the promotion of MRF Programme Director Judy Sikuza to the position of Deputy Executive Director. Mandela Rhodes Scholar Judy (South Africa & NMMU 2007; biography attached) began to work with the MRF in late 2013 and has played a seminal role in our ongoing quest to lift the Foundation’s flagship Scholarships programme to even greater levels of excellence. In her new position Judy will continue to take full responsibility for the further development and successful implementation of all elements of the Scholarships programme, but as my Deputy she will increase her involvement in the broader running and expansion of the Foundation. Specifically, Judy will focus on strategic projects at my request, and will play an increasing role in stakeholder relations and public engagement on behalf of the MRF. Judy’s leadership achievements, at such a young age, exemplify our highest aspirations for Mandela Rhodes Scholars, and I hope this recognition will also inspire many more talented young Africans to aspire to the Scholarship.

The Class of 2017’s Introductory Workshops

As I write there are two days to go before the first of our Introductory Workshops, and we greatly look forward to welcoming our largest and most continentally diverse Class ever. Mandela Rhodes Scholars from three ‘new’ African countries join us this year, and the flags of their homelands are already hanging in the MR Building’s lobby: Seychelles, Sudan, and Togo. We will as always be exposing the new Class to eminent speakers and leading visits to historic Mandela Rhodes sites: let the journey begin!

Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships

As soon as the Introductory Workshops are completed, we will be working on finalising the call for applications for the new Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships, which I announced last year. Please keep an eye on our website for news on this and other developments.

2017 Scholars Announced


The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is delighted to announce the selection of the 13th cohort of Mandela Rhodes Scholars, who make up the Class of 2017.

The new Mandela Rhodes Scholars, selected at the final interviews in Johannesburg and Cape Town in October, bring to 377 the total number of Scholarships awarded since the programme was launched in 2005.

It is expected that up to 80 Mandela Rhodes Scholars will be in residence in 2017 – a record number.

Details of the new Scholars, including their countries of origin, institutions and proposed study to be undertaken, can be found under The Scholars section on the web page.

During their time in residence, Mandela Rhodes Scholars pursue postgraduate studies and participate in customised leadership development programmes.

Details on the Mandela Rhodes Scholarships programme may be found at

For further information about the Mandela Rhodes Scholarships, requests for interviews with Scholars or Foundation staff, or copies of photographs for publication, please contact Mandela Rhodes Foundation Programme Officer Pam Barron on 021 424 3346 or e-mail

November 2016 update from the MRF


Another extremely active, important and challenging year for the MRF will soon come to a close. This is my final Executive Director’s Update for 2016. My team and I thank all our stakeholders for helping the Foundation to record a further period of significant growth in our Scholarships programme, even in an inordinately complex higher education environment. Growth in the programme will continue apace in 2017, when we expect to have as many as 80 Mandela Rhodes Scholars in residence in either their first or second years. (We have come a very long way since 2005, when there were 8 in residence!)

 Completion Workshop for the Class of 2016

This year’s Completion Workshop – the largest ever – was held in Cape Town in late August and early September. MRF Programme Director Judy Sikuza reports that ‘the Completion Workshop focussed on the MRF principle of entrepreneurship, with the encouragement of innovation and creativity aimed towards the betterment of society and Africa’s place in the world. The programme featured high calibre speakers such as Parminder Vir OBE, CEO of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Dame Judith Macgregor, British High Commissioner to South Africa, and Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, CEO of The Cape Town Partnership.’ In addition, MR alumni and staff gave inputs to the stimulating and successful programme in which I was privileged to participate as usual as Executive Director.

Selection of the Class of 2017

The marathon MRF Applications & Selection programme is complete, with final interviews having taken place in Cape Town and Johannesburg in October. Details of the Class of 2017 that has been selected will be published shortly on our website The MRF team is still finalising acceptances and working on the statistics represented by our newest class, but I can at this stage share with you that we expect it to number above 50, and that there will be firsts with Scholars from several ‘new’ African countries, in terms of them having successful candidates for the first time. Please do keep an eye on the website with regard to these exciting developments.

Update on the Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships

With workshops and selections completed, we are now turning our attention to the technicalities of finalising the selection process for the extremely exciting new Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships opportunity. We plan to announce the formal call for applications early next year, and assure those many Scholars who expressed interest that we will alert you as soon as the selection process is ready to get under way.

And finally …

  • I am proud to let you know that Mandela Rhodes Scholar Julia Cloete (SA & UCT 2005) will be assisting in overseeing the planning of an African Youth Leadership Development Portal in co-operation with the Mandela Institute of Development Studies (MINDS), and the Graça Machel Trust. Many Scholars expressed interest in the important initiative and will hopefully be involved.
  • From the MR Building in Cape Town, our warm wishes for a safe, restful festive season.

Announcement: Major new awards open to the Mandela Rhodes Alumni



Dear Mandela Rhodes Scholar

I share with you today some wonderful and historic news for the Mandela Rhodes family.

After extensive discussions, The Leverhulme Trust – one of the earliest and most significant supporters of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarships programme – has decided to fund additional MRF academic awards, above and beyond their gifts to the existing Scholarships programme.

·         The new awards will be for doctoral study in the United Kingdom

·         They will be competed for exclusively by Mandela Rhodes Scholar alumni

·         They will be known as Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships

Giving formal confirmation of The Leverhulme Trust’s decision, Trust Director Professor Gordon Marshall said that awardees will be nominated by The Mandela Rhodes Foundation following a selection process that is yet to be finalised.

In the inaugural year, two Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships will be made available. The programme will then be reviewed annually.

Each new Doctoral Scholarship will support an eligible MR Scholar at a recognised institution of higher education in the UK, and will cover the agreed costs of fees, maintenance and research.

It is important for prospective applicants to note the following statement by Professor Marshall, which is wholly endorsed by the MRF in terms of our own founding principles as approved by our late Patron Mr Nelson Mandela, and the Board of the MRF. He writes: ‘The Leverhulme Trust Board would like to reiterate its aspiration that awardees should be strongly encouraged to make their future contributions on the African continent.’

It is our hope that the necessary structures and processes can be put in place in time for a call for applications in early 2017, with the first Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholars taking up their awards in the course of that year.


In the meantime, if Mandela Rhodes Scholars wish to register their interest in principle, address a short message to me at and we will note your latest details.