US se­lects 15 Ba­sotho for Man­dela fel­low­ship

Lesotho Times - - News - Retha­bile Pitso

united states Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Matthew Har­ring­ton yes­ter­day urged 15 Ba­sotho youths par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s Man­dela Wash­ing­ton Fel­low­ship Pro­gramme for Young African Lead­ers to make a pos­i­tive im­pact when they re­turned home.

Mr Har­ring­ton made the re­mark while in­tro­duc­ing the group at the Amer­i­can em­bassy in Maseru. 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 pros­per­ity across Africa, as well as strength­en­ing demo­cratic gov­er­nance, peace and se­cu­rity.

Rele­bo­hile se­hapi, Pu­lane Mphatśoe, Mat­seliso Kh­esa, ‘Masello Mo­lato, Khotso Masheane, Ler­ato Le­soetsa, Billy Ntaote, Mookho Mo­qhali, Keneuoe sem­phi, Kara­beleo Tśosane, Joalane Mo­hobane, Kha­bele Mofele­hetsi, thabo stephen Monya­mane, Phe­lane Phomane and Likeleli Mphut­lane were picked ahead of about 330 ap­pli­cants, ac­cord­ing to Mr Har­ring­ton.

they will next week join 1 000 other Africans in a six-week aca­demic res­i­dency at us uni­ver­si­ties con­sist­ing of lead­er­ship sem­i­nars, men­tor­ing, and net­work­ing ses­sions, fol­lowed by a Pres­i­den­tial summit in Wash­ing­ton, Dc.

Mr Ntaote and Ms Mphut­lane are set to stay be­hind for six more weeks of pro­fes­sional in­tern­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Har­ring­ton, the se­lec­tion process was rig­or­ous. el­i­gi­ble ap­pli­cants were be­tween 25 and 35-years old, with proven track records in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion, busi­ness and en­trepreneur­ship or civic lead­er­ship as well as demon­strat­ing a strong com­mit­ment to con­tribut­ing their skills and tal­ents to build­ing and serv­ing their com­mu­ni­ties.

“it be­gan with each can­di­date ap­ply­ing in­di­vid­u­ally on­line, af­ter which the em­bassy re­ceived from Wash­ing­ton a ranked list of all the can­di­dates and copies of their ap­pli­ca­tions,” he said.

“Our em­bassy in Maseru then re­viewed the ap­pli­ca­tions, in­ter­viewed 39 fi­nal­ists, and made our rec­om­men­da­tions to Wash­ing­ton. in the end, we be­lieve strongly that the 15 Ba­sotho who made the fi­nal cut rep­re­sent some of the brightest, most tal­ented young minds in this coun­try.”

Mr Har­ring­ton stressed that the fel­low­ship was not just about go­ing to the us, but about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence when they re­turned home.

“When they re­turn, the fellows would be pro­vided with sup­port for en­gag­ing in skill-en­hanc­ing ini­tia­tives that in­clude in­tern­ships, pro­fes­sional men­tor­ships, travel grants to speak at high-level con­fer­ences and fund­ing as­sis­tance for project ideas.”

He said the fellows would also be able to ac­cess the YALI lead­er­ship in­no­va­tion Hub at the state Li­brary which is part of the em­bassy’s Amer­i­can cor­ner.

“it is also a place where they can meet and in­ter­act with other up- and-com­ing Ba­sotho lead­ers. this space pro­vides high-speed in­ter­net and video-con­fer­enc­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, as well as a phys­i­cal plat­form to give pre­sen­ta­tions, lead dis­cus­sions, and con­duct work­shops.”

the pro­gramme, Mr Har­ring­ton said, was meant to groom lead­ers across po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and busi­ness sec­tors.

“Our hope is that when these YALI Fellows have all gone on to be min­is­ters in gov­ern­ment, or lead­ers in busi­ness, or pi­o­neers of so­cial change, that they will still be con­nect­ing with each other, that they will still be learn­ing from each other, and that to­gether, they will be reach­ing back and help­ing the next gen­er­a­tion,” added the am­bas­sador.

On be­half of par­tic­i­pants, Ms Mphut­lane said the pro­gramme would equip them with lead­er­ship skills.

“it was clear from the ques­tions that were asked in the ap­pli­ca­tions that in de­sign­ing the pro­gramme, the us gov­ern­ment was look­ing for peo­ple who not only demon­strate ex­cel­lence in their in­di­vid­ual pro­fes­sions and trades, but who are driven by the need to solve vis­i­ble prob­lems in their com­mu­ni­ties; in­di­vid­u­als who are not just in­ter­ested in ad­vanc­ing their own per­sonal in­ter­ests, but who are pas­sion­ate about trans­form­ing their c om­mu­ni­ties and con­tribut­ing to ad­vanc­ing this coun­try,” she said.

Some of the mem­bers of the 2016 Man­dela Wash­ing­ton Fel­low­ship Pro­gramme for Young African Lead­ers with Mr Har­ring­ton (cen­tre) yes­ter­day. United States Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Matthew Har­ring­ton.

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