US invites youths for Mandela fellowship

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Herbert Moyo

THE United States Embassy has issued a call for applications for the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)- a programme which embodies the United States’ commitment to invest in the future of Africa.

The programme includes six weeks of intensive executive leadership training, networking and skills building at premier US universities, followed by a Presidential Summit in Washington, DC.

Through this initiative, young African leaders are equipped with the skills and connections they need to accelerate their own career trajectories and contribute more robustly to strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth and enhancing peace and security in Africa.

US Embassy spokesperson, Melissa Schumi Jones, this week told the Lesotho Times that in the past four years, the fellowship programme has empowered 3000 young African leaders, 42 of them who are Basotho.

“Those selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship represent the extraordinary promise of an emerging generation of entrepreneurs, activists, and public servants,” Ms Jones said, adding, “We are happy to say that 12 Basotho will once again get the unique opportunity to benefit from the programme designed for participants to interact with all spheres of US society, including academia, business, civic and government leadership”.

She urged Basotho youth to apply for the programme on or before the 11 October deadline for the receipt of the online applications.

“Many of our returned YALI alumni have already started collaborating in a wide range of programmes and business ventures, an example being a Zimbabwean fellow who collaborated with Basotho fellows for the Entrepreneurship Expo hosted in Maseru late last year.”

Applicants must be aged from 25 and 35 years, have proven track records of leadership in one of the programme focus areas (business and entrepreneurship, public management, or civic leadership), and demonstrate a strong commitment to contributing their skills and talents to building and serving their countries and communities.

One of the recently returned Lesotho fellows, 22-year old Ts’epo Nkhabu speaks eight languages and is a passionate cyclist.

At the age of 16, he founded Hands of Life Cycling, a youth cycling organisation based in Mafeteng. Like many of his counterparts, Nkhabu is hosting a series of mentoring sessions in his home town of Mafeteng to assist youth that are applying for the programme this year.

“In my view, YALI is about networking, exploration, experiences, growth and endless development.

“I have also learned to accept that we should not discard the rules of the society in which we live in. We must recognise that other people’s value systems are no less important than our own.

“And we must recognise and accept that we live in a society in which certain personality types and behaviours are more suited towards particular tasks,” Nkhabu said.

Nkhabu was based at Drexel University in Pennsylvania under the Civil Leadership track.

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