In January 2018, we launched the Mandela Centennial Scholarship Program in partnership with the Graca Machel Trust and Mandela Institute of Development Studies to provide 100 of our young Africans with full scholarships to ALU Rwanda.
President Mandela was a firm believer in the transformative power of education, he dedicated much of his efforts to ensure that children from all walks of life had equal access to education. To honour his legacy we proudly launched the Mandela Centennial Scholarship Program in partnership with the Graça Machel Trust and Mandela Institute of Development Studies in January 2018. This scholarship program provides 100 young Africans who have shown tremendous leadership potential the opportunity to study at ALU Rwanda, allowing us to celebrate the life of Madiba who would have turned 100 in July 2018. Through this program, these students are exposed to ALU’s mission-driven, challenge-based learning culture which will allow them to develop 21st-century skills that will ensure they remain relevant even as the world changes.
We are grateful that Hon. Graça Machel chose ALU as the home for this scholarship. We are also thankful to all our donors who have brought this scholarship to life by sponsoring 100 outstanding young Africans. We would like to give special mention to Absa for the significant contribution of 50 scholarship opportunities that they have made available to these brilliant scholars and for their unwavering support throughout this journey. The scholars were selected from a competitive pool of 756 candidates from across 36 different countries. They are diverse in age, gender, worldviews, and ambitions but they all share a common strong commitment to carrying on Mandela’s legacy of leadership. All the scholars have actively engaged in community service projects, whilst some have also undertaken independent initiatives ranging from sanitation and anti-child marriage campaigns to business focused projects at leading advisory firms on the continent. Equipped with bold visions and innovative aspirations, these scholars demonstrated brilliance in 100 different ways and more.
After the rigorous selection process, we officially welcomed our 100 Mandela Centennial Scholars to Rwanda in September 2018. Over the course of a 2-day leadership seminar which took place at our campus in Kigali, the scholars had the opportunity to meet each other and participate in inspiring and transformative debate sessions between leadership icons such as the Hon. Graça Machel and Dr. Nkosana Moyo. They also engaged with their sponsors, which included some of the most enterprising corporate leaders on the continent, to really understand what it means to be a Mandela Centennial Scholars and the embodiment of the servant leadership mantle they are expected to take on. The seminar kicked off with welcome remarks from Graça Machel, Dr. Moyo, and Fred Swaniker, followed by an immersive learning experience as attendees participated in rich discussions on the Long Walk to Freedom Movie and Rivonia Trial Speech. The first day was brought to a close by a cocktail evening to allow guests, donors and students to get to know each other better and connect on a more personal level.
The second day of the seminar provided valuable lessons to students about the importance of teamwork, soft skills and the mindset required to achieve leadership goals. The attendees engaged in interactive sessions including an experiential on teamwork and also heard from inspiring speakers, three of Nelson Mandela’s former bodyguards, who shared never-before-heard, intimate stories about the leader. The guest of honour was the honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, Édouard Ngirente, who made a special appearance for a rousing conclusion to the seminar sessions. During the closing Gala dinner, our scholars heard from their very own donors, namely Virginie Dias Tagnon from L’oreal and Claver Mugabo from Trust Industries Ltd. Virginie and Claver shared their life stories and reminded the scholars to be humble and that to whom much is given much is expected. To finish on an even higher note, the scholars and guests were galvanized by the keynote speech of President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, who was honoured for his tremendous work in implementing free universal education in Ghana.
We honoured Nelson Mandela’s legacy in a truly spectacular way and partnered with Hon. Graça Machel in giving her late husband the birthday present she wished for. It is at moments like this that we should all pause and be proud of who we’ve become as ALU, and of the incredible people that we have the privilege to call our team.