Five Mandela Rhodes scholars choose UP

Posted on March 02, 2016

The central purpose of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa. During their time as Mandela Rhodes scholars, participants pursue postgraduate studies and participate in customised leadership development programmes. Of more than 5 500 applications received from across the African continent, only 50 new scholars were selected at the final interviews in Johannesburg and Cape Town in November 2015. Five members of this elite group have decided to pursue their postgraduate studies at the University of Pretoria (UP) this year. They are Mr Binyam Alemayehu, Ms Natasha Ashley, Ms Tshepang Mabusela, Ms Sebenzile Nkambule and Mr Mutugi Mutegi.

Mr Alemayehu hails from Ethiopia and is the first Ethiopian ever to receive this prestigious scholarship. He will be pursuing his MPhil degree in Entrepreneurship at UP this year. The research that he will conduct as part of his studies will focus on job creation and employment strategies for young people, both of which, he says, are major challenges in his home country. On completion of his degree, Mr Alemayehu plans to go back to Ethiopia to apply what he has learnt. He says that, for him, being selected as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar is an absolute privilege and a great opportunity to prepare himself for a much greater task, which is to play a part in making Africa great. 

Ms Ashley will be doing her master’s degree in Business Management at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. She says that she applied for the scholarship in order to grow as a leader and agent of change, and to be better equipped to serve her country. She hopes that the lessons and skills she will learn through the programme will be useful in effecting positive change in her community and help her to become a leader who can find practical ways to make major contributions to society and industry, and in so doing, move South Africa forward.

Ms Mabusela will be doing her master’s degree in Development Studies in UP’s Faculty of Humanities. On completion of her degree, she plans to work with civil society and international organisations such as the UN to bring about more sustainable development strategies and funding models for NGOs. While at UP, however, she will be examining current skills development strategies in South Africa in order to determine their viability and whether they are really addressing skills shortages in the country or just treating the symptoms of bigger underlying problems.

Ms Nkambule is busy with her master’s degree in Gender Studies in the Department of Sociology. As part of her studies she will be doing research on activism in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) population in South Africa. She specifically wants to explore the evolution of activism during the first 21 years of democracy in the country through the life stories of a few well known LGBTI activists. Ms Nkambule feels that, apart from the financial support that the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship affords, the real opportunity lies in the attention that is given to leadership development over the course of the programme. She says that the programme aims to really develop you as a person and she thinks that this is what distinguishes it from other scholarship programmes.

For Mr Mategi from Kenya, being selected as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar was an inspirational experience. He is currently busy with a master’s degree in Mercantile Law at UP’s Faculty of Law and would like to return to Kenya on completion of his studies and go into practice there. Although he hasn’t decided on a specific topic for his master’s research yet, he has a keen interest in capital markets, securities and commercial law and would like to incorporate this into his research while at UP. Mr Mategi says that on hearing the news that he had been selected as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, he initially felt disbelief, but that it soon turned to awe upon meeting his fellow Mandela Rhodes Scholars. He says that interacting with his fellow scholars has fuelled his ambition and has made him realise that there is so much that can be done to change the world, not only by certain individuals or groups, but by all of us, especially if we work together. He feels that receiving this prestigious scholarship will help him to nurture the qualities he already knows he has and to discover qualities he may not know he has.

Two more UP students, Mr Linus Ndambuki and Mr Mosibudi Rasethaba, were awarded Mandela Rhodes Scholarships at the end of last year. Mr Ndambuki has, however, decided to continue his studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) this year, while Mr Rasethaba has declined the scholarship for personal reasons.

For more information on Mandela Rhodes Scholarship opportunities for the 2017 intake, please contact:

Ms Leanne van Zyl
Postgraduate Scholarship Coordinator
University of Pretoria
Tel:  +27 (0)12 420 6639

Alternatively, visit and click on External bursaries.


- Author Ansa Heyl

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