Thousands of hopeful young South Africans applied to participate in this year’s Young African Leaders Initiative Mandela Washington Fellowship (#YALI2015) but only six from the Western Cape made it to the list of 500 YALI fellows.
The fellows are on their way to the United States in June to study at the country’s most prestigious universities.
To top it all off, they will meet President Barack Obama at the end of their trip during a special function in Washington D.C.
Consul General Taylor was the first to speak and officially welcome the fellows and liberation leader Justice Albie Sachs to the lunch.
Sachs recently retired as a judge at South Africa’s highest and most respected legal institution the Constitutional Court.
While surveying the group of diverse participants, he told the fellows, “A gathering like this and the meal you are enjoying as young people was impossible to have when I was your age. Apartheid controlled every corner of our lives.”
Sachs told fellows some of his most intimate histories living in exile and about his leadership journey in South Africa under apartheid.
He also listened as young YALI fellows told him what they were doing and where they wanted to be in their careers.
Among the fellows are civil servants tackling housing and transport challenges; artists turned entrepreneurs; a film maker and social worker.
Want to find out more? Who from the Western Cape made it to the #YALI2015 list? Click here.