Launched in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and embodies the U.S. commitment to invest in the future of Africa. YALI was created in 2010 and supports young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. Since 2014, nearly 4,400 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and with the health, safety, and well-being of Fellows and Partners as the highest priority, the U.S. Department of State is planning a virtual Fellowship for 2021. While remaining in their home countries, Fellows will participate in virtual Leadership Institutes between June 21 and July 30, which will include leadership training, mentoring, and professional development.
After their Leadership Institutes, Fellows will participate in a virtual Summit. Additionally, up to 100 competitively selected Fellows will virtually engage in professional development with U.S. organizations in the public, private, or non-profit sector. Fellows can participate in Alumni Programming after their Fellowships to further build their professional skills and networks.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit mandelawashingtonfellowship.org.
U.S. Embassy Pretoria is proud to announce that the following leaders will participate in the 2021 Mandela Washington Fellowship:
Bohlale Buzani has more than three years of experience as a youth policy advocate in South Africa. Bohlale is one of the pioneers of the Unemployed Youth Movement, a youth social movement that advocates for youth-inclusive economic policies. He has worked in his municipal ward to initiate youth-driven programs and has founded informal sector companies to boost the local economy. He is known as a public speaker, entrepreneur, and community developer. Bohlale is currently pursuing a degree in Development Studies. On completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Bohlale aims to found the first youth-led political parties in South Africa. He believes that the youth of South Africa will dismantle current inefficient systems and build sustainable systems and programs for generations to come.
Blake Dyason is an entrepreneur, an environmentalist, and an activist for the planet and its people. He currently works as a relationships specialist at CN&CO, a small agency in Sandtown, South Africa, where he is launching a new financial industry business. Blake is also a co-founder of Brownie Points, a digital platform that connects people and companies to good causes and non-profit organizations, tracking and rewarding those who do good deeds. In 2015, Blake founded Love Our Trails, an environmental organization that connects people to nature through experiences and education. Its goal is to preserve and protect our environment. He has also worked as a motivational speaker. Blake is looking forward to taking the knowledge and network gained from the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to build on his existing work and launch the Brownie Points currency, giving South Africans tangible benefits and incentives to do good deeds.
Nozipo Winnette Gwaza
Nozipo Winnette Gwaza is an emerging professional in the built environment industry. She currently serves as a plant engineer at Sasol, where she focuses on supporting plant operations through asset management and maintenance and technical engineering advisory. Nozipo holds a bachelor?s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cape Town, under the sponsorship of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. She is committed to exercising her technical and entrepreneurial skills to address the legacy of infrastructure inequality in South Africa and transform the built environment industry. On completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she aspires to start an engineering firm that collaborates with the public sector to address complex resource and infrastructure challenges in South Africa and across the African continent.
Seipati Sarah Hlahane
Sarah Seipati Hlahane is a South African skills facilitator for Triple E Training, an adult education and training provider. She also leads a victim empowerment center with nearby communities to combat gender-based violence. She participated in a fellowship program with the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center in South Africa, where she developed a passion to set up and run a successful social enterprise to address issues of gender-based violence, health education, and skills training. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Sarah plans to continue to empower women and save them from gender-based violence.
Thando Vuyani Hlophe
Thando Hlophe has nine years of experience in telecommunications and software engineering. Thando is the founder and owner of Kayise IT, which focuses on telecommunications and corporate virtual support. He is also vice president of Child Welfare Nelspruit. Thando is passionate about the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution sectors, such as virtual reality, robotics, and quantum computing. He holds a diploma in Business Information and Technology from the University of Johannesburg. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Thando plans to provide capacity-building to youth in rural areas on information technology competency and infrastructure and new technology.
Lusindiso Holiday is a South African professional with 15 years’ experience coordinating, planning, implementing, and managing health and social programs. He is currently a victim assistance officer at the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa, where he manages cases of rape and other types of sexual assault, establishes early contact with victims, provides information and psychosocial support, and meets other needs of victims until they appear in court. Lusindiso has managed groups and coordinated HIV/AIDS programs and health promotions and has conducted trainings, workshops, and awareness campaigns. He holds a bachelor?s degree from the University of Fort Hare and is currently pursuing his master?s degree in Public Health at the University of KwaZulu Natal. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Lusindiso plans to establish an international foundation that will offer social and health programs that promote and support the welfare and human rights of sex workers and those in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Siyabulela Welter Jentile
Siyabulela Welter Jentile is an award-winning leader, author, and social entrepreneur whose passion for social development compelled him to leave his engineering career to fight what he saw as his country?s moral degradation. He is the founder and president of Not in My Name, a South African civil rights movement, which won the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Action Award. Siyabulela is also the director at Helushe Social Investments, an advisory start-up that offers corporate social investment strategies, social infrastructure project management, community assessments, and grant management. Additionally, he is the chief operations officer of United Civil Society in Action, a lobbying, research, and development group. Siyabulela is a certified Obama Foundation Leader and an ad hoc advisory committee member of the Together First global campaign. His ultimate goal beyond the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is to instill a sense of activism in ordinary citizens, build institutional capacity for active citizenship at all levels of society, help citizens handle issues of public dissatisfaction in a non-destructive manner, and mobilize for civil leadership that speaks truth to power.
Luthando Lennox Kaka
Professional cyclist Luthando Kaka is co-founder and operations director of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Ride4Hope, a Nelson Mandela Day initiative designed to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s centenary year commemoration and legacy program. Luthando is also a board trustee for Velokhaya, a leading youth education and sports academy in Cape Town. He has a degree in Communication Science and a diploma in Journalism. Luthando?s prior professional experience includes working for Independent Newspapers Daily in Cape Argus and Touchline Media’s Bicycling Magazine, before taking up cycling as a full-time career. In addition to various sporting accolades?including inclusion in the Sport and Recreation ministerial green book?he was a professional cyclist for a Danish-based Glud & Marstrand Horsens cycling team for two years and completed high performance training in Geneva, Switzerland at the Union Cycliste Internationale. Luthando was named among Mail & Guardian?s 200 Young South Africans in 2020. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, he plans to apply his new skills and network to enhance the impact of his organizations.
Frank Christopher Karigambe
Frank Karigambe has more than eight years of experience in higher education. Frank is a learning innovator at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa and focuses on developing professional, academic, and social programs. He mentors students in creating and executing student-led programs and helps serve the academic and social needs of students in the university?s residence system. Frank has introduced a multilingual tutor program that helps connect students who speak the same first language as a form of community building. He is also a co-founder of The Pitch UCT, which is a first-of-its-kind student business competition within the student residential community. Frank mentors and coaches the Academic Representative Council in partnership with the UCT vice chancellor. Frank holds a bachelor?s degree in Politics and Public Policy Administration from the University of Cape Town and a postgraduate degree in Social Entrepreneurship and Religion. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Frank plans to collaborate with other Fellows and U.S. partners to direct intellectual capital developed through the entrepreneurial ecosystems at the university and to guide the establishment of businesses with an African footprint from the student start-ups that complete The Pitch UCT entrepreneurship program.
Ofentse Jerremia Kombe
Ofentse Jerremia Kombe is a social activist with experience in the civil society sector and in local government and municipal governance in South Africa. He is a founding member of Boitekong Progressive Youth, where he helped create more than 500 jobs. Ofentse also helped to found the political party Botho Community Movement, which contested local government elections in the Rustenburg Local Municipality and won a seat in the council. He is currently a councilor and the youngest member of the mayoral committee, and political head of the directorate responsible for local economic development in the Rustenburg Local Municipality. Ofentse is a final-year Bachelor of Administration student at the University of South Africa. He is a Young African Leaders Initiative Alumnus and part of the Activate Network. Ofentse wants to lead effective and efficient management of public resources to enable socioeconomic development at all levels of government, and hopes to increase youth participation in governance. On completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, he will continue working to attract investment for the construction of an education hub in Rustenburg, including a university.
Asonele Rachel Kotu
Asonele Rachel Kotu has more than 10 years of experience as a public relations and marketing professional. She has worked with various clients, including community development organizations, charities, an international software-as-a-service/cloud-based solutions company, and a global solar technology company. She is also the founder of FemConnect, a start-up that creates digital solutions for period poverty and access to feminine hygiene and family planning services. Out of 50 tech start-ups, FemConnect won the 2019 Apps for Africa competition. Asonele served as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) YouthLead Ambassador for South Africa in 2020 and as the YouthLead Ambassador adviser to the 2021 Global Changemakers in the USAID and Making Cents International initiative. An Alumna of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, Asonele is passionate about empowering women by improving access to sexual and reproductive health services. On completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Asonele plans to reach more than one million girls by integrating FemConnect?s technology with government and private clinics in order to launch a family planning telemedicine service accessible to all citizens. She wants to use technology to ease access to women?s health services and empower women, leaving no one behind.
Judith Tebello Kutoane
Tebello Kutoane has seven years of experience as an attorney specializing in family and commercial law. In 2018, she established Sister In Law, a platform to empower South African women through legal education. Tebello is also the founder of a legal consultancy that provides start-up youth-owned businesses with affordable legal services, and the founder of a non-profit organization that provides soft skills, mentoring, and fundraising for female law students of color. Tebello was featured in True Love, a leading South African magazine, in its Women?s Month ?Class of 2018? issue for her outstanding leadership in her field. She is among Mail and Guardian?s Top 200 Young South Africans for Justice and Law. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, she hopes to further her work in women’s empowerment.
Andiswa Prisieth Makha
Andiswa Makha has 19 years of experience designing, organizing, and running community programs in the youth development field. She is currently program head at MOT South Africa, an organization that helps youth learn life skills. She leads expansion drives and trainings and helps implement life skills programs in colleges, high schools, and communities, and helps youth explore and understand their ideas, values, and beliefs to build confidence so that they can be successful adults. She has collaborated with various entities to eliminate the barriers faced by disadvantaged communities and to implement after-school academic enrichment programs, and plans to roll out the MOT life-skills program nationwide. Andiswa holds a degree in Human and Social Sciences, specializing in Development Studies, and a teaching qualification in English as a Foreign Language. She also studied Journalism at Rhodes University for two years. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Andiswa plans to build youth centers to empower youth with the necessary life skills and the health, wellness, and educational support to reach their full potential.
Mamakhoa Gail Maluga
Mamakhoa Gail Maluga is a transformational speaker and author. She is the managing director at House of Yadah Publications and has written several books, including Believe You Can, Born for a Greater Purpose Journal, and Daddy, I?m Yours. She is also the founder of the Girl with a Purpose Foundation, a South African non-profit organization that empowers, equips, and inspires young women, and runs a casting agency for young upcoming actors and filmmakers. Gail holds a degree in Theology and a diploma in Entrepreneurship from the Vaal University of Technology. A recipient of a 2016 Esther Woman In The Kingdom Award, a 2019 True Shine Award, a 2020 Women of Stature Award, and a 2020 Extraordinary Women Award, Gail was also a Tammy Taylor Mrs. South Africa semifinalist in 2018. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, she plans to fulfill her life?s motto: ?If you can see the invisible, you can do the impossible.?
Maribe Mamabolo has more than 17 years of professional experience in sports and recreation, youth development, business and entrepreneurship, and community development. Maribe has worked in senior management in the public sector, civil society, and the private sector. He is executive manager of the North West Provincial Recreation Council, an organization that renders recreational and wellness programs to more than 60,000 individuals annually. Maribe previously served as advisor to South Africa?s minister of sports and recreation and deputy minister of public service and administration. Maribe is on the boards of the Young Professionals Network (a body of the African Association for Public Administration and Management), the Youth Network of the African Peer Review Mechanism, and Kunye Services (the largest egg distribution company in South Africa). He is also a trustee of the Mosaic Business Trust, part of the Mosaic Group, which is a sustainable model for the care of orphans and vulnerable children. Maribe obtained his master?s degree in Development Policy and Practice from the University of Cape Town, and after completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, he plans to finish his Ph.D. in International Development so he can help partnerships improve participatory governance.
Zuko Eric Mandlakazi
Zuko Mandlakazi has five years of experience working in manufacturing, research, and development for the consumer electronics sector. As a consumer electronics product manager, he has worked with some of the most talented engineers and industrial designers in South Africa and abroad and has helped some of the brightest minds to innovate, develop prototypes, and manufacture small-scale consumer electronics. He also has experience raising funds and combining resources for new products and ensuring that the ways a product is designed, engineered, named, branded, and marketed are united under a single vision. On completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Zuko plans to continue his work developing and launching new consumer electronics products.
Khanyisa Mapipa is an admitted attorney of the High Court in South Africa. Khanyisa currently volunteers as the grade 8 grade head and legal advisor for a youth-run non-profit organization called Fun Learning for Youth (FLY). FLY provides free mathematics, science, and life skills tutoring, food, stationery, and textbooks to its 200+ high school learners in disadvantaged communities across South Africa. Since joining FLY in 2017, Khanyisa has dedicated her time and energy to the provision of quality education to the 40 children under her care. In addition to her role as grade head and legal advisor, she is also heavily involved in the organization?s fundraising and recruitment initiatives. In 2020, Khanyisa began working at the South African Human Rights Commission as legal advisor to the entity’s CEO. As part of her duties, she organized a number of virtual human rights advocacy events, including a children’s webinar which offered high school learners a platform to express their concerns regarding their education under the government regulations put in place to help the country curb the spread of COVID-19. Khanyisa has a passion for children’s rights, particularly the right to education. Upon completion of Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, she intends to continue positively influencing the lives of the children under her care and to share the new skills she acquires through the program with her colleagues at FLY.
Edward Boitumelo Matiwane
Edward Matiwane is very passionate about business and entrepreneurship, and focuses his work on business development and business intelligence. He currently manages a non-profit business development social enterprise that provides emerging entrepreneurs with basic entrepreneurial resources to start, manage, and grow a business. Edward also runs a local business incubation center in his hometown of Kimberley, South Africa, that supports local businesses through incubation. He holds a diploma in Occupational Health and Safety from Oxbridge Academy, and a diploma in Public Management from Northern Cape Urban TVET College. Upon completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, he plans to apply his new skills and network to improve his incubation and social enterprise initiatives.
Ayanda Valerie Melansi
Ayanda Melansi has more than 15 years of experience in radio journalism and producing. Currently, Ayanda is a a content producer at Africa?s largest radio station in South Africa and Africa, Ukhozi FM, where she produces the station?s Breakfast Show and Maskandi Music Show. Previously, Ayanda headed the News Department at Classic FM after being trained as a political journalist and producer at Gagasi FM. Through the Breakfast Show, Ayanda works with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Correctional Services to create a dialogue between inmates and the community. Ayanda holds certificates in Feature Writing and Journalism for Communicators from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. A self-taught public relations and communications consultant, Ayanda is passionate about youth and wants to create a better environment for those less fortunate. On completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Ayanda plans to use the knowledge obtained to strengthen her communication with the public through the different platforms she manages. She also hopes to influence more change in thinking and behavior through the inmate program. Ayanda eventually hopes to become a program manager at a radio station that will shine a light on how to create better lives in Africa.
Linda Khulekani Mncube
Linda Mncube has more than 12 years of experience as a professional town and regional planner primarily with the local government. As the manager for planning at the iLembe District Municipality in South Africa, he is responsible for spatial planning, environmental management, and geographic information systems. Linda has a keen interest in climate change, infrastructure development, and local economic development. He holds a bachelor?s degree in Town and Regional Planning and a postgraduate diploma in Urban Management. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Linda plans to use the experience and network to be a better contributor in his field, particularly with respect to developing and implementing strategies aimed at fostering sustainable development.