Young African leaders arrive in Madison for 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship

2018 UW-Madison Mandela Washington Fellows (Photo by Meagan Doll)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison welcomed its fourth cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows to campus Wednesday. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program for the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and brings around 700 young African leaders to the United States each year to complete a six-week professional and academic institute at higher education institutions.

UW-Madison will host 25 Fellows – 15 women and 10 men – from June 19 to July 28, after which the Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C. for a summit bringing together all 700 participants. The Fellows at UW-Madison represent 18 countries and a wide variety of professional experience in healthcare, media, conservation, education, and more.

Zaida Ibrahim, a 2019 Fellow from South Sudan, is both the founder of the Okay Africa Foundation project Keep the Girl Child in School and the head of the Nadafa le Beledna (Cleanliness for Our Country) project. She is driven by her passion for the well-being of women and young girls, and hopes to teach communities about the importance of investing in education and cleanliness.

Tanzanian Fellow Lusubilo Malakbungu focuses on improving health research opportunities and the workings of local laboratories. He is a laboratory advisor at Management and Development for Health (MDH), a non-profit public health organization, where his current concentration is the Comprehensive Health Services Delivery (CHSD) project. CHSD seeks to both control HIV epidemic and integrate quality health services in the areas of family planning, malaria care, and tuberculosis.

A full list of names and biographies can be accessed here.

Joining this year’s Mandela Washington Fellowship program are two individuals from previous UW-Madison Fellowship cohorts. While in Madison, Rebekah Awuah, a 2017 Fellow from Ghana and Kalkidan Belayneh, a 2018 Fellow from Ethiopia, will assist the program by providing general assistance in the acclimation process. Awuah is an accomplished journalist and Belayneh is a medical doctor and public health advocate.

The 2019 Fellowship cohort, much like those to which Kalkidan and Rebekah belonged, will bring their expertise to numerous community and campus engagements throughout the summer. Each week, for example, the Fellows will serve as volunteers at one of five community partner sites – the UW-Madison Arboretum, The Bubbler, Gigi’s Playhouse, the Goodman Community Center, or the Lussier Community Education Center. Beginning in July, they will also participate in roundtable discussions with faculty and local professionals about topics in public management, civil society and governance, and public health.

2018 Mandela Washington Fellows volunteer at the Lussier Community Center (Photo by Kyra Fox)

Visit the African Studies Program calendar or subscribe to a weekly newsletter to learn more about upcoming events and engagement opportunities.

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Wisconsin or to get involved, contact Meagan Doll at

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State and administered by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit or join the conversation at #YALI2019.

Written by Rebecca Hanks.