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Shaun Johnson

Executive Director

Phone: +27 21 424 3346
E-mail: 

Shaun Johnson is the founding Executive Director of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation in
Cape Town, which is dedicated to building leadership excellence in Africa. He also served as
Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
Shaun was associated with Nelson Mandela for 23 years. A renowned anti-apartheid
journalist, he wrote the feasibility study for the New Nation newspaper in 1981, and was
one of the early members of the Weekly Mail team (now the Mail & Guardian). He was
Deputy Editor and Political Editor of the Johannesburg Star during South Africa’s transition
to democracy, and went on to edit several newspapers including the Cape Argus and
Saturday Star. He was founding Editor of The Sunday Independent in 1995. In 2003 he was
appointed Deputy Chief Executive of Independent News & Media South Africa, the post he
held prior to his current position. He is Chairman of the Rhodes Scholarships South Africa
Advisory Committee, a member of the Board of Governors of Rhodes University, and was
Chairman of the Council of St Cyprian’s School for several years. He was a long-serving
member of Independent News & Media plc’s International Advisory Board, Chairman of the
Cape Town Partnership, and a Trustee of various charitable organisations.
An international award-winning author, in 1994 he published Strange Days Indeed, the
bestselling book on South Africa’s transition, which was introduced by Nelson Mandela. In
2007 his first novel, The Native Commissioner, published by Penguin books, won the
Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa, the MNet Literary Award, and the
Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Book of the Year. The Native Commissioner received
endorsements from Nobel Laureates JM Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer. The novel was
prescribed as a setwork by the Independent Examinations Board in South Africa.
Shaun spent his early years in the Transkei, a rural area of South Africa, and was later
educated at Hyde Park High School in Johannesburg, Rhodes University in Grahamstown,
and at the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar (South-Africa-At-Large,
1982). He won academic and sporting awards at both universities, but did not complete his
doctorate. In 2004 he was awarded the Centenary Old Rhodian Award by Rhodes University.
Shaun, 57, has lived in Cape Town since 1996 with his wife Stefania. They have a daughter,
Luna, who is 17 years old.