A student at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS), Mr Mfundo Mdletshe, has been awarded the prestigious Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship.
‘I am thrilled to be joining a community of high calibre scholars,’ said Mdletshe. ‘Despite what some might think after recent events which questioned the Rhodes legacy, I am excited about being associated with an award which bears the names of two famous men. I look forward to grappling with the legacies of both characters.’
The scholarship will assist Mdletshe financially offering him the opportunity to pursue postgraduate studies. ‘Without the scholarship, I would sadly probably have become a financially excluded student.
‘I do not only carry my dreams but those of my family too. As such this scholarship will not only positively contribute to my life - through financial resources and the leadership programme - but will indirectly improve the lives of my family members,’ he said.
The Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship aims to help build new generations of exceptional leaders in Africa based on the principles of reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship and leadership.
‘I think this is a bold vision and one that requires a lot of determination to achieve. Africa needs to take ownership of its story and draft its own identity,’ said Mdletshe.
‘I think more scholarships that believe in Africa and promote critical thinking among its recipients are needed.’
Mdletshe, who has been at UKZN for the past five years, feels the Institution mirrors the harsh reality of South African society. ‘On one hand there are students who obviously come from a position of privilege, while there is also a pool of disadvantaged students. It thus made sense for me to read for my Masters in Development Studies at UKZN.’
‘But over and above that, before applying for this degree, I did some research on the Discipline of Development Studies at UKZN and I continue to be impressed by the well-read academic staff of this Discipline,’ he said.
Mdletshe attended Greytown High School where he received the Dux award in 2011 for the top matric results in the school – 6 As and 100% in Accounting.
He also got the Team Award for representing the School’s first soccer team for over 80% of the games in the schools league in 2011.
At UKZN, he received a Merit Scholarship in 2012, the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship in 2013 and the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary in 2014. He became Mentee of the year in the College of Humanities, gave a talk on My UKZN Experience at the Scholarship Voucher Ceremony and is a proud member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.
Said Lecturer Professor Sarah Bracking: ‘Mfundo is a stunning student who is now contributing to the programme of the South African Research Chair on Poverty Reduction. He is analytical, fastidious and accomplished and will make a contribution to the betterment of society.’
Mdletshe thanked the Scholarships Committee and his family and friends for their constant support and love.
He had this advice for other students: ‘Keep doing the good work you are doing in your society. You are making a difference in someone’s life and that’s what matters.’