The office of founding President James R. Mancham from the Seychelles has confirmed that the former President has accepted an invitation of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Organization to be guest of honor and deliver a keynote address at the Regional Conference for the Mandela Washington Fellows from Southern Africa.
The conference will take place in Johannesburg on May 19 focused on the topic “The pitfalls of bad leadership.”
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African leaders is a flagship programme of President Barack Obama for Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) that empowers young people through leadership training and networking. The 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows have 500 of Southern Africa’s promising young leaders aged 25-35 who have achieved records of achievements of positive change in their institutions, communities and countries. The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders enjoys the support of three US-funded organisations – (i) the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), (ii) IREX, which is a Washington-based international non-profit organisation providing thought leadership and innovative programmes to promote positive lasting change globally and (iii) the Lead Africa Foundation which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality and standards of leadership at all levels of African society.
All sub-Saharan countries are represented among the Mandela Washington Fellows and 50% of the fellows are women. In fact 75% of the fellows hold mid-level or executive positions. At this year’s conference Seychelles will be represented by Christopher Lespoir (MA), who is an Air Seychelles/Etihad pilot, chairperson of the Seychelles Young Leaders Association (SYLA) and who was last year elected chairperson of the Regional Advisory Board for Young African leaders of Southern Africa. Mr Lespoir will be accompanied by Fatoumata Sylla, director general for Youth Affairs in the Office of the President, and Sheryl Vangadasamy, elected member of the National Assembly for the Mont Buxton constituency.
Besides Sir James the conference will be addressed by two other dignitaries – Moeletsi Mbeki, a political analyst, author and entrepreneur who is a director of several companies and is chairman of KMM Investment (PTY) Ltd. Mbeki, who is the son of ANC leader Govan Mbeki and younger brother of former South African President Thabo Mbeki, is also deputy chairman of the South African Institute for International Affairs, an independent think tank based at the University of Witwaterstrand as well as a member of the executive committee of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies; and Ms Joyce Warner, senior vice-president and chief of staff of IREX. At the moment she is also overseeing and serves as a senior technical advisor to a grant and contract portfolio of over $125m in public and privately supported education and youth programmes.
In a statement from Glacis sur Mer yesterday morning Sir James said he felt deeply honoured to have been invited to address what he described as ‘the future leaders of Africa’.
“Africa’s tremendous potential is before us waiting to be tapped. The challenges are great but so must be viewed the excitement of being among those called upon to provide the dynamism and quality of leadership which the continent deserves at this changing time in order to make it clear that Africa is on the move and can no longer be classified as the forgotten continent,” said Mr Mancham.
Former President Mancham accompanied by his wife Lady Catherine will be leaving Seychelles next Sunday. Following the Johannesburg conference, they will be visiting Cape Town for discussions and talks with the management and scholars of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation and socialising with friends in South Africa.