Twenty-five young African leaders are on campus for the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship program at the University of Delaware.
Equipped with years of professional and academic experience and a
passion for creating change in their home communities, the Mandela
Washington Fellows will take on six weeks of rigorous academic training
and community engagement. The program began June 22.
University faculty in political science and international
relations, public policy and administration, communication, black
American studies, history and applied economics, among others, will
provide academic sessions, and UD professional staff in information
technology, human resources, development, communications and marketing,
and teaching and learning will provide leadership training.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.
Funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX,
the program seeks to empower young professionals to continue their
missions of promoting innovation and positive change through intensive
civic leadership, public management or business and entrepreneurship
Hailing from 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the UD fellows will focus on civic leadership.
The fellows represent a diverse cross-section of the continent’s most
motivated and talented young individuals. The leaders live and work in
Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria,
Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo,
Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In addition to the many opportunities that UD will offer the fellows
in the course of the six-week summer institute, they will also gain a
tremendous amount from the chance to spend that time with fellow
activists and advocates from across the African continent.
Many previously made connections with one another in anticipation of the start of the program.
About the fellows
The 2015 UD Mandela Washington Fellows hold a number of professional
positions in their communities. Among them are lawyers, lecturers,
government officials and leaders of major local, regional and
international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Three fellows have held positions with UNICEF, the international organization that promotes the health and welfare of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Sese Site currently works for the organization in Equitorial Guinea
as a child protection officer, while Samantha Nyereyemhuka began her
advocacy career by representing individuals with disabilities in the
UNICEF Secretariat for Youth in Zimbabwe.
To the north, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Arlene Tungali
Baguma consults the NGO on communication and advocacy, and produces
human-based stories and social media outreach.
Another of the leaders, Samah Osman, serves as an environmental officer for the United Nations' Africa Union Mission in Darfur.
While the participants come from very different backgrounds, at least
one thread ties them all together – each of fellows is at the forefront
of addressing the grand challenges in their home communities.
Among them are founders, executive directors and leaders of
organizations aimed at alleviating poverty, advocating for human rights,
fostering peace and creating access to education for women and
wa Hassan, the senior programs coordinator with the Uganda Muslim
Youth Development Forum, co-founded the organization after surviving
the 2010 Al-Shahbab bombings in Kampala. Together with his colleagues,
he manages programs, projects and activities that promote peace and
participation in public life.
For many fellows, like Hassan, their devotion to civic leadership comes from a very personal place.
“One of the one of the things I’ve always hoped to do is to inspire
the people in the indigenous areas where I come from, especially women
to advance their education…and for those who are not already educated to
achieve a minimum qualification,” said Regina Bwanali in a recent
interview with the Voice of America.
An advocate in the superior courts of Zimbabwe, she hopes to perfect
the essential leadership and advocacy skills needed to establish
programs for women and children. “I believe that if you are educated,
you are emancipated,” she said. “You are also able to determine how to
direct issues that relate to your rights.”
Upon arriving in Newark, the cohort will commence participation in
workshops given by over 35 of the University’s experts in leadership,
good governance, advocacy, entrepreneurship, organizational development
and social media.
In addition, they will work closely with local community organizations with advocacy interests closely aligning to their own.
This year’s possible community partners include the Easter Seals, American Civil Liberties Union, Delaware Center for Justice, Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Delaware Nature Society, Community Legal Aid Society, United Way, Delaware Pride, the Latin American Community Center, and more.
This summer, each of the Mandela Washington Fellows will post content on the 2015 UD MWF blog. Visit the site to learn more about how each leader plans to create change in their home communities, and follow along on Instagram and Twitter, where the stories of each of the participants will be shared.
For more information on UD’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, contact Dan Bottomley.
About the Institute for Global Studies
The Institute for Global Studies,
which administers the fellowship program, was created in 2009 to
enhance the international dimensions of teaching, research and outreach
at the University of Delaware.
IGS provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that
contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens
of the world.
Best known for coordinating the University’s study abroad program,
IGS also awards scholarships and grants to faculty and students for
myriad global opportunities, administers internationally-recognized
programs including the MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative) Student
Leaders Institute, Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, and the SUSI
(Study of the United States) Institute for Women’s Leadership, and
sponsors such signature events as International Education Week each fall
and country-specific celebrations each spring.
IGS collaborates with other global partners on campus, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies.