Learn about the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Fellows smile for a group photo in front of a map of Africa.

The U.S. Department of State and IREX are pleased to welcome the 2019 cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to the United States for the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered in partnership with IREX, a nonprofit organization. The Mandela Washington Fellowship creates stronger ties between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States with the goal of strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security on the continent.

Accomplished in their careers and dedicated to serving their communities, the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellows represent the diversity of Africa. The Fellows come from both rural and urban areas, include individuals with disabilities, and represent equal numbers of women and men. Selected from a pool of more than 38,000 applicants, the 700 Fellows are leaders in agriculture, business, civil society, education, public service, and other fields. Their personal stories include: 

  • Sister Ndapewoshali Lidiinikeni Kashala – A surveyor and building industry trailblazer in Namibia. She is passionate about redefining construction industry norms, empowering women in this field, and motivating youth through her mentorship platform. 
  • Patrick Saruni Lemargeroi – A community activist transforming his community, one person and village at a time. He is dedicated to ending gender-based violence and female genital mutilation in Kenya and plans to start a community center focused on leadership and empowerment. 
  • David Kehinde Samuel – An investor and social entrepreneur inspiring the next generation of business owners in Nigeria. He is dedicated to helping young people change their financial future by fostering business disruptors and employment generation in the agriculture, hospitality, and education sectors. 

For six weeks from mid-June to the end of July, Fellows will participate in Leadership Institutes at 27 U.S. educational institutions in 20 states across the country. Throughout the program, Fellows will develop lasting connections with Americans and will enrich local communities while enhancing their skills through leadership training, experiential learning, and networking. They will also develop innovative solutions to pressing challenges in their countries and collaborate with their peers from both the United States and Africa. Additionally, Fellows give back to their American host communities: from 2016 to 2018, Fellows contributed 30,000 hours of community service to organizations across the country. 

Following the Institutes, Fellows will convene in Washington, D.C. for the sixth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit from July 29-31, 2019. During the Summit, Fellows will connect with each other and American professionals, setting the stage for continued collaboration when they return home. American companies and organizations are invited to join the Summit’s Partnership Expo, where they can highlight their work in Africa and make connections with the next generation of African decision-makers. 

After the Summit, up to 70 competitively-selected Fellows will join private, public, and nonprofit organizations across the country for a four-week Professional Development Experience. These substantive, short-term placements allow Fellows to contribute their skills and insights to American organizations and grow as early career professionals. From 2014 to 2018, nearly 500 Fellows contributed more than 125,000 hours of service to over 240 U.S. Host Organizations. 

Upon returning home, Fellows continue to build on the skills and connections developed during their time in the United States through access to ongoing professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities. Fellows may also apply for their American colleagues to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange component. 

To get involved in Fellowship activities near you, please contact MWFellowship@irex.org

Press inquiries should be directed to ECA-Press@state.gov

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.