Midlands State University’s student leadership had an interface with the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders on Monday 16 September 2019 at the University’s Zvishavane Campus.
The Fellowship programme began in 2014 and is the flagship programme of former American President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) ‘that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking’.
The Fellowship provides 1000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Sahara Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at American institutions of higher learning, with support for professional development after they return home. Zimbabwe has managed to send 120 fellows since the program’s inception and out of the 120 students are good number are MSU students.
Speaking during the meeting, Michael Mabwe, the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Coordinator urged the student leaders to come up with innovative and interesting entrepreneurial projects that will provide practical solutions to the Zimbabwean situation.
Among the Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni present at the interface meeting was Jasper Maposa, who holds an Honours and a Masters Degree in Media and Society Studies from Midlands State University and Belinda Magarira, a level 4.1 student studying an Honours Degree in Development Studies at the MSU.
Jasper Maposa is the current chairperson for the Community Newspapers Association of Zimbabwe (CNAZ), a publisher and the vice-chairperson of the Media Owners Association of Zimbabwe (MOAZ).
According to Jasper, the fellowship programme equipped him with the ethos of servant leadership, leadership through networks and leadership in turbulent times hence his immense community involvement. The fellowship makes specific recognition of abundant expertise and potential immanent in the young people and seeks to amplify it and make it practically realisable through an intensive six weeks stay in the USA, where the young people find an opportunity to network with fellow African young leaders and coalesce around finding sustainable solutions to the greatest needs of the continent. The fellowship capitalises on the youth bulge which remains Africa’s greatest potential for transformation change.
“The fellowship opened a vast expanse of opportunities before me. It also provoked my minimal conception of leadership which I used to view from the perspective of holding positions. Leadership has to be transformational and a leader has to identify himself or herself with community progress and community solutions. It should facilitate community members to realise their fullest potential. The greatest resource that the fellowship has is networking and leading through networks”, he said.
The program dovetails with Midlands State University mandate which is aimed at producing innovative graduates who play a pivotal role in bringing about positive change within their communities.