Building exceptional leadership in Africa

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Guiding Principles


The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is a unique partnership seeking to close a circle of history for the benefit of current and future generations of Africans. It brings together the 20th century legacy of Leadership and Reconciliation embodied by Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and Cecil John Rhodes’s 19th century legacy as it relates specifically to Education and Entrepreneurship.

The overarching mission of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa, by providing excellent educational and training opportunities to individual Africans with leadership potential; as well as by creating over time a network of well-rounded leaders of talent, effectiveness and integrity across African society.

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarships are intended as a vehicle for the sustainable and practical expression of the aim to provide exceptional educational opportunities, develop a network of leaders, and thereby help to build leadership capacity in Africa.

The Scholarships programme will seek candidates who identify with the values set out by Mr. Mandela and Mr. Rhodes; as well as demonstrating the characteristics set out separately in the document: The Characteristics Sought in a Mandela Rhodes Scholar.

What follows is an expansion, intended in the first instance to provide clarity for members of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarships Selection Committees, on each of the four ‘legacy categories’ to which the Mandela Rhodes Scholarships programme is intended to give practical expression.


By Leadership we mean the will and capacity to use one’s own personality and abilities to guide, inspire, and develop fellow human beings to achieve excellence in any area of endeavour. This leadership should be principled, strategic, and effective; it should carry moral authority and be visionary in pursuit of the advancement of individual and social fulfilment, human rights, human dignity, the achievement of equality and other fundamental freedoms. Personal success by a Scholar which does not translate into wider benefits for society does not in itself meet the goal of the Scholarship programme. Leadership could include, but does not necessarily presuppose, a career in the public sector.


By Reconciliation we mean an embracing of human diversity, and a belief in a world in which all individuals and cultures enjoy equal rights and respect. This commitment to human reconciliation means seeking to make a contribution to freedom, peace and prosperity for all human beings, never to the exclusion of any category of humanity. It implies a generosity of spirit, and a willingness to harness an imperfect past to help develop a more just world.


By Education we mean the pursuit of a high minimum standard of scholastic attainment, certainly sufficient to meet the requirements of the course envisaged by the Scholar. In tandem with this we seek understanding that academic achievement on its own is not sufficient to justify selection – this is what is meant by a blend of character and intellect. Further, we seek a thoughtful understanding of how education writ large – not just the education of the individual Scholar – can be a tool for the advancement of human development.


By Entrepreneurship we mean a belief in the critical role played by individual human effort, hard work, innovation and creativity in leading to the betterment of society and Africa’s place in the world. Scholars are required to exhibit vigour and integrity, and the energy to use their talents to the full, in pursuit of their own career and beyond its confines. Entrepreneurship in this conception could include, but does not necessarily presuppose, a career in the private sector.

The Trustees of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation
Cape Town, South Africa, 2005