Mandela Rhodes Scholars:
Two Witsies are Mandela Rhodes Scholars in 2016: Mulweli Mathagu (BSc Eng 2015) and Nompumelelo Manzini (BA Hons 2016).
The central purpose of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa.
Mulweli Mathagu (BSc Eng 2015) is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Abe Bailey scholar and Unilever brand ambassador. These scholarships recognise leadership capability and academic potential.
He is studying towards his MSc Chemical Engineering at Wits and works in the University’s Academic Development Unit.
Mulweli comes from the village of Mbilwi in Limpopo and attended Mbilwi High School.
He is interested in the production of energy at a lower cost, to make Africa more competitive in industry, and his Master’s project focuses on electricity generation, using mathematical modelling.
He has participated in the Unilever African Idea trophy competition and the Unilever Leadership Internship Programme. His community outreach includes service with Safripol, tutoring and mentoring Soweto school children, and the BONO Community Development Project among high school students.
Mulweli hopes to make a contribution in his field from 2017. He is also fascinated by the potential that entrepreneurship holds and will be looking to develop in that area.
Nompumelelo Manzini (BA Hons 2016) is studying towards a Master’s degree in Philosophy at Wits. She was an Allan Gray Orbis Fellow from 2013 to 2015, selected as one of South Africa’s Brightest Young Minds in 2013 and Editor in Chief of the Golden Key International Honour Society (University of Johannesburg chapter) in 2014. She has also excelled in debating and plays.
Cikida Gcali (BSc Eng 2014) is completing her Master’s degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Tulsa in the USA. She is also managing editor of The Money Farm, a magazine for young professionals, and an organiser for 1 Million Cups, a programme for entrepreneurs.
She was a top-achieving student at Wits, a member of Engineers Without Borders and treasurer of the Wits chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society.
Her LinkedIn profile says: “As an engineer I’m passionate about discovering some of the world’s solutions in energy. As a content creator I’m determined to spread financial education among millennials. As a Fulbright Scholar I’m dedicated to education and excellence. As a leader I’m committed to serve.”
Dr Ashar Dhana (MBBCh 2010) recently completed his Master’s in Public Health (specialising in Quantitative Methods) at Harvard University. Before taking up the Fulbright scholarship, he was a part-time researcher at Wits’ Centre for Health Policy. His research focused on reproductive health among marginalised groups such as sex workers, as well as on mothers and children. He also undertook projects concerning novel “bedside” tests for common HIV conditions, such as tuberculosis. Several were published in peer-reviewed journals.
Speaking about the Harvard experience, he says: “The school exceeded my expectations. The faculty included the world’s foremost thinkers and leaders in public health. I had the chance to listen to them and interact with them on a daily basis. The best part of being at the school every day was being in the company of brilliant students from all over the globe (our class comprised 48 different nationalities). But the highlight of my experience was the student-led trip to Palestine and Israel, where we learnt about the ongoing conflict in that region.”
Dr Dhana has received a number of scholarships throughout his studies, most recently the Harvard Horace W Goldsmith Fellowship (awarded for commitment to working in the public sector) and the Oppenheimer Scholarship.
He aims to specialise in dermatology.