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My YALI experience

- Odile Mackett

WSG lecturer, Odile Mackett, attended the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership programmes and shares her experience.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centres were designed to reach more individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 through the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The programme, launched by former US President Barack Obama, aims to build capacity for the next generation of African leaders. There are two centres in West Africa, one in East Africa and another in Southern Africa; with USAID as its main sponsor.

YALI RLC Southern Africa is hosted by Unisa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL), and hosts five cohorts of roughly 120 participants in each cohort. Participants from
14 Southern African countries got to share their unique and common experiences based on our different genders, ethnic origins and sexual orientation. We also shared perspectives as
individuals from the business and leadership, public management
and civic leadership tracks. Invaluable networks were formed.

The four-week residential programme was filled with numerous evening panels which allowed us to engage with organisations such as USAID, YALI RLC alumni and Mandela Washington fellows.

In other sessions, we covered topics which included responsible leadership, leading high performance teams, communication within organisations, project management, policy formulation, as well as a site visit to the South African National Roads Agency.

I found the group discussions with my fellow YALI RLC-SA participants most fulfilling; discovering how as Africans we are so different in many ways but also the same. We agreed that as Africans we are not victims, but our own worst enemy, and that we need to work tirelessly as young people to transform the picture of what Africa looks like.