UW campus hosts 25 young African leaders

The 25 young African leaders who have come to the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus for a six-week academic and leadership institute represent a variety of fields, including medicine, public health, law, education and community activism.

Sicily Mburu
Sicily Mburu

Sicily Mburu, of Kenya, has served as a medical doctor in her country’s Ministry of Health and participated in projects aimed at strengthening HIV/AIDS and maternal health systems. She wants to learn how to use mobile technology to assess health needs, allowing for cost-effective, high-impact interventions.

Gnenegnimin Eli Yeo
Gnenegnimin Eli Yeo

Gnenegnimin Eli Yeo, from Côte d’Ivoire, aspires “to create a center that will train and equip young men and women to create their own businesses and impact the community.”

They are among the 13 women and 12 men, from 19 countries, who have come to UW–Madison through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and hosted here by the African Studies Program.

This summer, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has brought 1,000 leaders – ages 25 to 35 – from across Africa for academic and experiential learning institutes at U.S. institutions. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), part of U.S. efforts to strengthen democratic institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We knew they were going to be an impressive group,” says Neil Kodesh, faculty director of the African Studies Program. “They really are extremely successful – all leaders in their professional fields and communities.”

“UW–Madison has outstanding faculty in the field of public management, and we are thrilled that they will be working with the fellows,” says Anita Makuluni, administrative director of the fellowship program. “It will be an excellent opportunity for exchange on both ends.”

The African Studies Program has organized a range of academic and community activities for the fellows.  Several campus partners – including the Global Health Institute, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Law School, and the School of Education – have collaborated in developing the academic curriculum for the institute.

Learning will continue outside of the classroom, through experiential site visits and community engagement. Site visits will include the Wisconsin State Capitol, Epic Systems, Wisconsin Public Broadcasting and Sassy Cow Creamery.

The fellows also will participate in service activities with local organizations, such as the River Food Pantry and the UW–Madison Arboretum and in excursions to such places as Devil’s Lake State Park and Chicago.

“I am excited to connect with young Africans and Americans,” Gebeyehu Abate, of Ethiopia, wrote in a pre-departure survey. “I am also excited to experience the higher education system of the U.S., as well as meet professors, students and partners of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.”

Bios: Learn more about the 25 Mandela Fellows at UW–Madison

Volunteer opportunities: The African Studies Program is still seeking volunteers for the duration of the six-week institute, which runs through July 31, to assist with such activities as grocery shopping, religious service attendance, and event chaperones. For more information, contact Meagan Doll at yali@africa.wisc.edu.