US selects five Basotho for Mandela fellowship



US Ambassador Matthew Harrington and the Mandela Washington Fellowship participants
US Ambassador Matthew Harrington and the Mandela Washington Fellowship participants


THE United States Embassy in Lesotho has selected fiveBasotho to participate in the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship Programme for Young African Leaders.

The fellowship is a flagship programme of US President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Mr Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders to spur growth and prosperityacross Africa, as well as strengthening democratic governance, peace and security.

Initially called Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders,it was renamed last year in honour of the late South African statesman and former president, Nelson Mandela.

The five, MolapokatseFanana, LisemaMasheane, ThatoMochone, SetlokeLekhela andLineoTsikoane, were picked ahead of about 400 applicants, according to the US Embassy in Lesotho. They will next week join 500 other Africans for six weeks of intensive executive leadership training, networking, and skills building, followed by a Presidential Summit in Washington, DC.

The training will be in one of three areas: business and entrepreneurship; civic leadership; or public management.The academic study will also be augmented by workshops, mentorship, and networking opportunities with recognized leaders in each field.

Mr Fanana is an intrepid Mosotho entrepreneur with ample experience in brand strategy, communications and business administration.Mr Masheane has four years experience in vehicle protection industry and three years occupying a leadership role in an organisation that seeks to empower youth.Ms Mochone is an award-winning radio host at Lesotho’s state owned radio station, and an activist journalist interested is social justice. Mr Lekhelahas close to 10years experience in various fields of the community development sector, volunteering with youth initiatives and for a solar cooker project that assists guardians who look after orphans as a result of the high rate of HIV and AIDS in Lesotho. MsTsikoane is an experienced human rights lawyer and activist. She has been a prominent proponent of human rights of women and children’s rights in Lesotho.

Introducing the quintetat the embassy in Maseru on Monday, US Ambassador to Lesotho, Matthew Harrington, said apart from undergoing intensive leadership training at different universities in the country, they would also have the opportunity to meet Mr Obama in early August 2015.

He noted that the 2015 fellows were selected from over 30 000 applications from across sub-Saharan Africa.

“These young Basotho leaders represent the extraordinary promise of an emerging generation of entrepreneurs, activists and public officials, and we very much look forward to what their future holds,” said Ambassador Harrington.

“Mandela Washington Fellows are between 25 and 35 years of age and have proven track records in public administration, business, entrepreneurship and civic leadership.

“They would alsohave demonstrated a strong commitment to contributing their skills and talents to building and serving their countries and communities.”

Ambassador Harrington said he hoped the participants would come back to Lesotho having acquired skills useful to developing the country.To ensure participation in the programme results in meaningful progress, he said they would provide ongoing support for the fellows upon their return from the US.

“Funding has been made available so they can apply for grants, and participate in innovation hubs and regional hubs,” Ambassador Harrington said.

“And we want this to be an ongoing effort.”

According to the YALI website, the Fellowship is “designed to encourage and foster the ingenuity, confidence, passion, and commitment of the next generation of African leaders”.

“It offers young leaders an unparalleled opportunity to meet and share ideas with some of America’s dedicated leaders from community organizers to the President of the United States,” the website read.

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