Boksburg, South Africa – Hundreds of young African leaders convened in Boksburg, South Africa, from March 12-18 for the 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Symposium. This group of select Fellowship Alumni gathered to discuss critical topics impacting U.S.-African relations and exchange ideas with leaders from both Africa and the United States.
“Being young, although there are challenges and people will underestimate you, it is also a superpower,” said U.S. Special Envoy for Global Youth Issues Abby Finkenauer. “Remember that you are in that position or in that place to do the work that needs to be done, and to do it well, and with integrity.”
The event was funded by the U.S. Department of State as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders and administered by IREX. The Symposium offered Alumni the chance to build on their virtual Fellowship experience in 2021 with in-person leadership training, networking, and volunteer opportunities.
“The Mandela Washington Fellowship has catalyzed action and inspired change and empowered individuals,” said Assistant Secretary of State Lee Satterfield. “Not only will young people across Africa address the issues of our time… You, the Mandela Washington Fellow or the Young African Leader, will be at the forefront.”
During breakout groups, Alumni connected with members of the Fellowship Network to collaborate on 21st-century challenges facing Africa and the United States, including business, climate change, democracy and peace, and youth and education. Moky Makura, Executive Director of Africa No Filter, delivered the keynote address.
“It’s the stories people hear that help shape how they view the world,” said Ms. Makura. “That’s why the Fellowship is so important – you’re meeting each other and talking across country lines and changing the African narrative together.”
Offsite activities on Thursday included a workshop at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, an experiential day at the African Leadership Academy, volunteering at local schools, such as Zandspruit School, and more.
The Alumni Symposium included the following program highlights:
- Remarks from 2016 Fellowship Alumna Chido Cleopatra Mpemba, African Union Commission Special Envoy on Youth, and Abby Finkenauer, U.S. Department of State Special Envoy for Global Youth Issues
- A networking reception at Constitution Hill co-hosted by Heather Merritt, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to South Africa, and Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
- A fireside chat on Africa’s creative economy with Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Managing Director of Spotify, Sub-Saharan Africa
- Closing remarks from Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.