2017 Mandela Fellows at UW-Madison


  • 15 women, 10 men
  • Representing 20 countries: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho (2), Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa (3), Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania (2), Zambia (2)

Tigist Abate (Ethiopia) grew up in an environment where victims of domestic violence were discouraged from seeking justice and protection under the law. As a high school student, she realized that one of the reasons victims did not come forward was because almost all lawyers in the community were men. When Abate had the chance to select her university major, she decided to enroll into the five-year-long law program with the goal of representing vulnerable members of her community. During her time at the university, she had the privilege of providing free legal assistance to women, children, and people with disabilities. After earning her bachelor’s degree and receiving a one-and-half-year-long professional training, she got a full-time job as a justice officer. Abate’s favorite part of being a justice officer is advising the court’s clients about the law and serving as a public defender to individuals who cannot afford legal representation.

Akin Akinlade (Nigeria) has a professional background in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, which is, in his country, a branch of Mouth and Facial Health. It involves diagnosing and surgical treatment of conditions of the mouth and face. His desire for this line of profession was spurred out of the increasing rate of cancers in the mouth and facial region and also the increasing rate of facial deformities in Nigeria. This is also coupled with the dearth of many professionals who are trained to carry out such procedures, many of which have traveled out of the country in search of greener pastures. His motivation in carrying out this job comes from the satisfaction that someone who would have otherwise been dead can be given a chance at a longer life to spend with family and friends. This to what gives Akinlad the daily inspiration to work harder.

Niziyimana Alexis (Burundi) graduated as a Doctor and spent time delivering medical prescriptions in a clinic. He began working with civil society within Youth in Clear Medical. From there, he became the founder and program manager coordinating activities on NCDs. He then moved into youth empowerment within the English Medical Center. There, he was a founder and project manager of a project called Empowering Youths and Women through ICT and English training in partnership with the US Embassy. He also worked with the US Embassy as grant holder for American Species in Burundi. He is currently acting as program manager in YCM on an East African project called HIV and Harm Reduction Among Injecting Drug Users. He chose this work because people who inject or use drugs are at the highest risk for HIV infection; they are also discriminated against, criminalized, stigmatized and often do not have access to health services.

Rebekah Adwoa Awuah (Ghana) started out on a three month work placement in the Radio news room of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in 2006, had a year of National Service and got employed in August 2010 due to hard work and dedication. Since then, Rebekah Adwoa Awuah has honed her journalistic skills to become a key news anchor and Senior Operations officer for GBC24, the organization’s rolling news channel. She has couched a niche for herself by developing exclusive stories and news features. She is responsible for editing scripts and providing headlines. She also conducts live interviews with news makers. Rebekah is a versatile and talented young journalist who requires a little push and an international exposure to excel and exhibit what talent Africa has got. She has specialization in Arts & Entertainment, environment, health, migration, women and children’s issues.

Márcio Brito (Cabo Verde) graduated with a degree in English Studies. Today, he works in the ‘Rádio e Tecnologias Educativas ‘ RTE’. There, he produces and presents a daily program from 8 to 11 o’clock in the morning from Monday to Friday. He also records and edits advertisements, warnings, and other similar tasks. He chose this work because it fascinates him, and he feels he is in the right place to contribute to society since to being a radio man exposes him to many personalities deciding the future of his country.



Abdulai Conteh (Sierra Leone) is a university graduate in Social Work with a background in mental health and psycho-social support programs. While working with IsraAID, he has engaged in many activities to promote the well-being of vulnerable individuals in his country during and after the Ebola crisis. Conteh has been providing self-care sessions to hotline operators during the Ebola response, facilitating sessions with children who were Ebola orphans and working with burial team members from the Ebola crisis on psycho-social support and livelihood projects. Conteh has also developed expertise in research and program evaluation, having served as a research assistant on a study of the menta

l health needs of university students in Sierra Leone and leading program evaluation teams for Save the Children and Street Child. He chose a career in social work so he could provide mentorship and emotional support to vulnerable groups and individuals in helping them recover from traumatic situations.

Diénéba Deme-Diallo (Mali) began working in January 2009 in Mali as a journalist in local radio. There, she was able to get specialization through training as a “science journalist.” She is part of several associations working to value journalism as well as promoting youth leadership. She believes that journalism is a noble job. Her work aims to inform the general public about development projects and programs as well as share other concerns happening in the country. She is the communications officer of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Communication. In Mali today, the role of communication is very important. There is a gap between younger generation and the power and Deme believes she can make a contribution through different initiatives. With the association of science journalists she began educating people about topical issues. Deme is working to promote peace and bring public awareness to general issues.

Samrin Habbani (Sudan) completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Surgery in July 2010. After graduation, she started working as a tutor in Clinical Skills at the Internal Medicine Department, National Ribat University to help medical students prepare patient history and develop good communication skills with patients. Being an active leader of working groups gave her solid leadership skills to organize groups. Then she worked in the Research Directorate, Federal ministry of health, and that enhanced her research capacity and team work. Currently, she works as Medical Officer in Khartoum Breast Care Centre (KBCC). She also acted as Medical Director at the Centre for a short period. KBCC is a non profit center and the only hospital in Sudan specialized in breast cancer management. Helping and treating breast cancer patients and raising health awareness in her community is the main reason she joined the center.

Ntsali Khesa (Lesotho) graduated from the National University of Lesotho in the year 2007. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in BA Pastoral Care and counseling. She worked at Baylor College of Medicine for ten years a HIV/AIDS counselor, actively involved with adolescents living with HIV. Currently she works as an outreach counselor at the community level. She provides therapeutic counseling to clients. She is also involved in providing adherence counseling for those who qualify for ART and ongoing adherence of those who are on treatment. It is her task to involve psycho-social support groups, including teen clubs, caring father, and wise youth program.



Hassan Kone (Senegal) is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. He is a highly motivated graduate with a PhD in Business Administration, a general MBA, and two Financial Certificates: in Market Trading and Analysis, and in Risk Management. Kone has traveled around the world and has learned a lot of things about different cultures. To continue to have these opportunities, he did his best to be hired at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad. Since January 2016, Kone serves as the Internal Auditor and the Financial Controller in one of their branches. Using the experience gained in many fields of work, he has been able to play an essential role in teamwork and also in building effective relationships. Finally, Kone is a pragmatic hard worker who is always open to new challenges, and who is continually looking to grow his skills and take on more responsibilities.

Emmanuella Langsi (Cameroon) currently serves as a child protection officer with the United Nations peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic. Her principle role is to support the implementation of security council resolutions for children and armed conflict. She has always had the passion to work with children in conflict settings. This work includes advocating for inclusive policies that promote and protect the rights of children, dialoguing and negotiating with armed groups to secure the release of child soldiers, initiating quick impact projects that benefit children, building the capacity of military police and civilian peacekeepers, and providing psycho-social support to child victims of conflict related sexual violence. For the past 19 months, she has positively impacted the lives of close to 400 vulnerable children in the Central African Republic. Her scope of work has enhanced her dialogue and negotiation skills, the ability to be flexible given the emergency context, and she has developed her skills to advocate for inclusive policies for children and deal with various stakeholders to promote the rights of children.

Pascale Laoukounda (Chad) studied law, specifically in protection of human rights. She started working very young to pay for her studies. Her first job was as an editing secretary in a socio-educational sub regional newspaper for the fight against HIV / AIDS among youth. Then she worked for six months in a mobile company as a call agent. After that, she served as administrative assistant in a project for journalists’ capacity building of the private press in Chad led by Search for Common Ground. Currently, she is an assistant in the sponsorship department at Good Neighbors International-Chad. She chose this job because she has always expressed an interest in issues related to the protection of human rights, which has also nurtured her desire to turn towards professions related to humanitarian causes.


Wilson Luzendo (Angola) began his career in 2007 when he finished school in economics. He worked as micro credit analyst in the new bank for two years and nine months later was promoted. In July 2011, he joined the Development Bank of Angola, an institution exclusively devoted to economic development. From November 2014 to August 2015, he served as the head of the Department of Credit Management. In August 2015, he was promoted as Director of Agency at the Development Bank of Angola. He chose his job because he likes to help and educate people for the welfare of the whole community by creating employment and reducing hunger.



Zanele Mabaso (South Africa) is an ardent policy adviser, advocate for women and girls and a social justice writer with published articles on World Health Organisation’s Bulletin, Girls Globe, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, SkyNews24 and other online global advocacy platforms with a focus on HIV Prevention, Adolescents SRHR, Gender Equality and GBV. She is also a Youth Advisory to the UNFPA South Africa, was elected Youth Representative (South Africa) of the UNFPA SYP Program’s Regional Steering Committee, the National ASRHR Framework Strategy Technical Committee among others and participated in a number of national, regional and global consultations and high-level engagements across the world. She has chosen to do this work because every young person, irrespective of their socioeconomic status, background or expenditure, deserves access to health services and quality of life, right to live a dignified life and enjoyment of basic human rights. However, it will take a lot of work to realize this future.

Omari Mahiza (Tanzania) graduated in 2011 from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and then had a one year internship at Muhimbili National Hospital. The internship involved passing through and actively working in all clinical departments at the hospital. This gave Mahiza the opportunity to work with children in the pediatrics department, women in the obstetrics and gynecology department and mental health patients in the psychiatric and mental health department. He was then employed by the government to work at Amana Hospital where he still works today. At Amana, he has been working in the pediatrics department since 2013 and has grown very fond of the work. He became a doctor because it is what he has always wanted to be. He has always wanted to do something that carries value and honor and makes a difference, and he believes he made the right choice getting into healthcare.

Dumsani Mamba (Swaziland) has been a volunteer on community based health projects as psychiatric nurse at Cabrini ministries and at IMERSE. He is currently the program director and psychiatric nurse at IMERSE. In this position, he initiates and manages all the organization’s projects and further links the institution with other organizations which aid the objectives of delivering mental health services and creating mental health awareness in the country. This includes provision of mental health services which include counseling services and training to all civilians regardless of age, gender and race. He is driven by the love and passion for mental health and the desire to see all mental health cases treated with dignity and human respect and doing away with stigma associate with mental health.


Tankiso Motipi (Lesotho) is currently the Civil Registration officer for the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Department of National Identity and Civil Registry from July 2013 to present, and her duties include: overseeing the registration of all vital events (births, deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions), providing legal advice on all legal issues as well as human resource management of ninety nine staff members. Motipi loves this job because her main task is to ensure that all Basotho are able to get their identity documents, which is fulfillment of their right to identity, as well as realizing their socio-economic rights. Her work as a human rights activist is also realized through this office as she holds campaigns even beyond the border to fufil her mandate. She is a founding member of Young Women Lesotho (NGO) as well as an active member for Federation of Women Lawyers FIDA.

Emerencia Nguarambuka (Namibia) is an Executive Assistant to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT. She is responsible for strategic stakeholder engagement and liaison. She does her own charity work in her community by assisting poor, young vulnerable women and children through donations of basic items. She aspires to mentor young unskilled women for them to access opportunities and become employable through her company Snappy Communications. Ms. Nguarambuka is planning to do a Masters in Business Administration in the later part of 2017.



Jerono Odhiambo (Kenya) is an advocate in Kenya who is passionate about human rights. She worked for the National Gender and Equality Commission in Kenya. This commission deals with the rights of women, children, youth, elderly, disabled and marginalized. It tackles discrimination of all kinds. She handled complaints in the legal department. It is because of this that she decided to do a Masters in Human Rights. Odiambo says it is critical for all citizens in her country to learn about their rights and the duty the state owes them for the enjoyment of these rights. She believes it is easier to solve most problems through empowered information. Odhiambo’s goal in life is to engage with youth and simplify the law and human rights through edutainment to make it easier and engaging for people to know their rights, and for the duty bearers to be aware of this as well.


Rachida Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso) has a Bachelor’s degree in English and is working on a Master’s degree in Translation/Interpretation. She worked as Bilingual Administrative Assistant in an international Development NGO for two years, from April 2014 to July 2016. She taught English to young pupils in an organization that takes care of orphan children. She did this because she loves to help people and give them what she knows. Currently she works as an English teacher in private schools. She is delighted to give what she has to people who want to learn and speak English.



Webby Phiri (Zambia) is a doctor of medicine with four years experience and a student of an MBA in Healthcare Management. He runs the District Medical Office for Chikankata, a rural district in Southern Province, supervising one hospital and seventeen health centers. He is also the National Planner for the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia. His passion for healthcare stems from his strong belief that a healthy population drives the core of a vibrant and progressive economy. More still, a healthy population of children carry the hope and promise of our developing continent of Africa, hence his special interest in child health. He dreams of a happy and healthy Africa, with equal access to quality healthcare for all.



Nasra Songoro (Tanzania) is an advocate with one year and 3 months experience practicing law. She has interned for various institutions throughout her academic life. She has interned at various courts of law, law firms, and the Attorney General’s Chambers. She says that these internships have shaped her to the advocate she is today. Songoro was employed soon after completing her studies, and she quit a year and a half later to start her own firm. Currently, the firm deals with various legal work such as legal drafting, contracting, conveyancing, mediation and dispute settlement, corporate law and litigation. Litigation is mainly centered on representing women and the disadvantaged in attaining their rights, and with time a vision of reducing ignorance of legal issues.


Khaya Tshiki (South Africa) has worked as a lawyer representing the indigent communities in the rural areas of South Africa for a period of four years. He was appointed to coordinate street law program, through which he helped 25 paralegals register their offices and receive accreditation by the Department of Justice and represented more 78 clients. As a Legal Advisor, his role was to advise the state to develop a broad based procurement policy. The Department implemented his recommendations of including small medium enterprises as its service providers. Tshiki served as a mentor for high school students in the Eastern Cape through Inkwenkwezi trust. He chose his line of work because of the potential it has to not only shape policy direction that will allow ordinary citizens to participate in the main stream economy but it is a tool that ensures justice and equal opportunity for all.

Tumi Zantsi (South Africa) is currently employed as an Analyst (Monitoring and Evaluation) with the South African Parliament. It is her role to monitor and evaluate the implementation of Parliament’s strategic plan, and whether the institution is moving any closer to its strategic objectives. She has an affinity for big picture thinking and strategic planning, as well as a deep need to do purposeful work that makes a difference. Her work fulfills both: she gets to make a difference in the functioning of the organization through the recommendations she gives, and she also gets to use her personal strengths to add value. Legislative functioning is critical for the deepening of our democracy, and she recognizes the significance of her individual contribution in the greater national project of building a better world. It is not often that she feels like she is exactly where she should be with her work. She believes she is.

Mzamose Zulu (Zambia) currently holds the position of Senior Community Development Officer in the civil service of Zambia, a department of Community Development under the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare. She worked as a District Community Development Officer in Luanshya before taking the current position at Provincial office in Ndola. The current position deals with supervising ten districts in implementing literacy programs as well as skills development and training, while the previous position entailed implementing social protection programs such as Food Security Pack, Women Empowerment and, Self Help Projects in one district. She chose this work because she is driven by the need for social change whether on a personal level or community level. Community development work was a great choice as it gives her the opportunity to nurture this drive.