Johannesburg (17 November 2023) – We are delighted to announce that the prestigious, post-graduate Rhodes Scholarships, for study at Oxford University in 2024, have been awarded to ten exceptional young graduates from across the region.
The Southern African cohort will be heading to the University of Oxford in October 2024 to join more than a hundred Rhodes Scholars from around the world to undertake fully funded post-graduate studies and become part of a strong international network and supportive community of young leaders determined to make a positive difference in the world.
The Rhodes Scholarship is the world’s preeminent and oldest graduate fellowship, based at the University of Oxford since 1903. Over the last 120 years, nearly 1000 graduates from Southern Africa have been awarded Rhodes Scholarships. Ten Rhodes Scholarships are awarded annually in the constituency, comprising South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and eSwatini.
The annual Rhodes selection process seeks young people with a proven record of academic excellence who also display exceptional moral character, evidence of leadership skills, the energy to use their talents to the full, and a commitment to solving humanity’s challenges.
Selection procedures include an online application process, an iterative review of the applications submitted, before the shortlisted candidates are interviewed by first a regional selection committee and then, after a further shortlisting exercise, a national selection committee. At each level, committees comprise renowned leaders and experts (both Rhodes Scholars and non-Scholars) across diverse fields, all of whom volunteer their services to the Rhodes Scholarship.
Over the last three months, nine regional selection committees have shortlisted and interviewed eligible candidates from universities across Southern Africa. Twelve regional finalists were recommended for interviews with the South Africa-at-Large national selection committee on 10-12 November 2023.
Following a weekend of rigorous and thorough interviews, the ten Rhodes Scholars for 2024 were confirmed this week.
The 2024 Rhodes Scholarships for Southern Africa have been awarded to the following (in alphabetical order):
The National Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships in Southern Africa, Mr Ndumiso Luthuli, commented:
“2023 is a landmark year as we celebrate 120 Years of the Rhodes Scholarship. This year, following wide-ranging outreach to universities across the region, we recorded the highest number of applications ever for the Southern African Rhodes Scholarships, with applications up by 5% on last year, the previous record. For the first time ever, we had a finalist from the University of Mpumalanga, an institution only a decade old, shortlisted for the national interview round in 2023.
“Our selection committees were spoilt for choice and had exceptionally strong pools from which to shortlist for the regional interviews. The finalists interviewed by the national selection committee were all quite outstanding and some tough choices had to be made last Sunday by the South Africa-at-Large selectors.
“The Scholars selected have studied diverse academic disciplines, ranging from astrophysics to applied mathematics, commerce to computer science, from law to medicine, from international relations and leadership, to neuroscience and biomedical engineering. All are academically gifted, socially committed, well-rounded and exceptional young leaders.
“We are confident that the 2024 Rhodes Scholars selected all have the potential to become catalysts for good: young changemakers, who will inspire solutions to the many challenges faced by our post-pandemic society. All have the energy and ‘courage to lead’, and are committed to making a positive impact in Southern Africa and beyond. We have no doubt that they will continue to ‘fight the world’s fight’ in the 120 year-old tradition of the Rhodes Scholarship.”
The Rhodes Scholarships were first awarded in 1903 (https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk), following a significant bequest. Annually, more than 100 Rhodes Scholarships are bestowed to top achieving, young graduates from 60 countries across the world. The ten Southern African Rhodes Scholars will join a further 90 international students in Oxford, who will make up the Class of 2024.
Dr Elizabeth Kiss, CEO of the Rhodes Trust, said: “We are excited to see the tremendous talents of this year’s Rhodes Scholars Elect, who come from countries all around the world. We know from 120 years of bringing exceptional people to Oxford to study and build a dynamic global community, that when unlikeminded but like-hearted people come together, we can forge brighter futures for individuals and the world.”
Kiss added that: “Students from anywhere in the world can apply for a Rhodes Scholarship and many find that taking part in the rigorous selection is a profoundly positive experience which leaves them well placed to go on to other opportunities worldwide.”
For 120 years, the global Rhodes Scholar community has been a force for good. Scholars form a lifelong community, diverse, multicultural and multidisciplinary in nature, but united by a common commitment to having a positive impact on the world.
Scholars from Southern Africa have gone on to pursue careers ranging from medical research to jurisprudence to public service; and are a distinguished cohort committed to their country, to impacting positively on the lives of their fellow South Africans, and to standing up for the world.
The Trust is committed to ensuring that the world’s diversity of background and thought is reflected at Rhodes House, which has expanded the Rhodes Scholarship to include Global Scholarships and new constituencies in recent years, including West Africa, East Africa, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon & Palestine and the United Arab Emirates.
The applications for the 2025 Rhodes Scholarships will open in June 2024. More information about the Scholarship application be found at: www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/apply.
Issued by: Beverley Johnson
Regional Manager, Rhodes Scholarships for Southern Africa
Babette Littlemore, Director of Communications:
About the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarships
The Rhodes Trust, based at the University of Oxford, is an educational charity that forges brighter futures for individuals and the world.
We do this through a family of global fellowship programmes. All these programmes find brilliant people from around the world, give them wonderful opportunities to learn and act together, and support them as they form lifelong communities. We began in 1903 with the Rhodes Scholarship. This is the world’s pre-eminent graduate fellowship, bringing exceptional young people of character to the University of Oxford to study. Over 8000 Rhodes Scholars, from more than 50 countries, have gone on to serve at the forefront of education, business, science, medicine, the arts, politics and beyond. All this is made possible by the wonderful generosity of our Second Century Founders, John McCall MacBain and the Atlantic Philanthropies, as well as over 3000 other benefactors from around the world.
A hundred years on, we helped create the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, which finds, funds, and empowers young Africans to study in South Africa. In 2016, we partnered with Atlantic Philanthropies to create the Atlantic Institute which empowers catalytic communities of emerging leaders to advance fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies. A year later, we helped launch Schmidt Science Fellows in partnership with Schmidt Futures, which believes in a vision of a world where interdisciplinary science flourishes without limit. We worked with Schmidt Futures again to create Rise, a program that supports brilliant people through their lives, starting at ages 15-17. And in 2022, we partnered with Harris Manchester College to launch Oxford Next Horizons, a rich, six-month experience designed for mid to late career participants from any field, who reflect, explore and imagine what’s next for them and the world.
We are based at Rhodes House in Oxford, which we are currently transforming into a world-class facility for gathering, learning, collaborating and sharing. Rhodes House is home to most of our staff team who offer a comprehensive programme of support and learning for our Rhodes Scholars, convene a lifelong network for our alumni, and run several of our partnership programmes.
Addendum – Meet the Rhodes Scholars-Elect for 2024
This year’s winners continue the fantastic legacy of Scholarship and excellence. Please find below a short Bio on each of the Rhodes Scholars-Elect for 2024. Photographs are available on request.
JUSTINE CROOK-MANSOUR (SACS & Partner Schools Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of Cape Town, BSc (Physics and Computer Science), BSc (Hons) (Astrophysics)
Justine (22) grew up in Cape Town, where she attended Rustenburg High School for Girls. She is currently completing her Honours degree in Astrophysics at the University of Cape Town, having previously obtained a BSc, majoring in Physics and Computer Science. She has a strong interest in space and wants to work at the intersection of computer science and astrophysics.
In June 2023, she took part in the Vatican Observatory Summer School in Italy, which focused on data science and machine learning applications to astronomy. In her Honours project, she is investigating the use of deep learning to identify strong gravitational lenses.
Justine has a strong academic record. She placed first nationwide in her final year of school, and has continued to place top in various courses at university.
In 2022, she took a year off from studies and worked at the South African Astronomical Observatory on various science engagement and coding projects. During that year, she initiated a physics tutoring programme for final-year students at an under-resourced school in her area—a project she continues to manage.
Alongside her studies, Justine is an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Candidate Fellow. The highly-respected organisation’s programme focuses on training high-impact responsible entrepreneurs. She is enthusiastic about venturing into the world of software innovation, and is actively working on upskilling herself in this domain.
In her free time, Justine enjoys playing sport, especially hockey, watching films, travelling, and writing
DANIEL ERASMUS (St Andrew’s College & DSG Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of Cape Town, BCom and LLB
Daniel (23) grew up in the Eastern Cape and matriculated from St Andrew’s College in Makhanda. Daniel is motivated by a radical desire for a more caring world. As a student of law, they are interested in the philosophical and political challenges that confront its modern-day role in South Africa and beyond. During their studies at the University of Cape Town (BCom and LLB), Daniel prioritised involvement in student leadership, most notably serving as the Secretary General of the SRC (Students’ Representative Council) in 2020/21.
Daniel enjoys the art of advocacy and has participated in both national and international moot competitions, including winning the Kate O’Regan Inter-varsity Moot Competition (2022). They have also completed research papers on the right to further education and on abolitionist constitutionalism.
Daniel cherishes time spent running, especially when alongside his brother, and playing in the occasional cricket match.
SAGEL KUNDIEKO (South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of Cape Town, BSc, Bachelor of Medical Science Honours, MSc (Neuroscience)
Sagel (23) was born in the DRC and grew up in Cape Town, where she attended Claremont High School. She is pursuing an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Cape Town (UCT), supported by the Mandela Rhodes Foundation. Sagel graduated cum laude with a BSc and Bachelor of Medical Science Honours degree, supported by the Moshal Scholarship Programme. Her research utilizes single-nucleus RNA sequencing and electrophysiology to study the link between inflammation and epilepsy. At Oxford, she intends to expand her training in neuroscience. She aims to explore the connections between poverty, trauma, and brain health. Sagel’s commitment to growing neuroscience in Africa is demonstrated by her involvement as an executive member of the Southern African Neuroscience society, a member of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa and the ALBA network.
Beyond research, Sagel is the founder of a digital marketing company, Elle Zeka; and is passionate about mentorship, education, and entrepreneurship. She tutors and mentors students in various organisations, lectures neuroscience, and coordinates a youth mentorship programme. In her spare time, you can find her writing poetry, listening to gospel music, or dancing.
TESSA MALAN (Paul Roos & Partner Schools Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of Stellenbosch, BSc (Physics & Astronomy), BSc Honours (Computer Science)
Tessa (23) is currently completing an Honours degree in Computer Science at Stellenbosch University, with a focus on human-centred computing. For her thesis project, she is creating a pilot mobile app for language data collection in 11 of South Africa’s 12 official languages. Tessa and her team are following a user-centred interaction design approach and working with field workers, parents and caregivers – the end users of the app. The users’ perspective helps them create an app that caters to the range of digital literacy skills in South Africa.
Tessa also serves as a student representative member on the university’s Research and Ethics Committee, a very rewarding experience. She is passionate about creating sustain-able technology and policies that promote ethical use of personal data. Ethics should be built into systems, not be an afterthought. She also feels strongly about using computer science for social impact and aiding in closing the digital divide in developing countries and regions. To paraphrase Kentaro Toyama, we can do this by identifying the existing human forces that can amplify technological resources, and create resources designed and produced in collaboration with these human forces.
MOTHIBI MATHIVHA (South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of Cape Town, BSc (Mathematics & Computer Science) BSc Honours
Mothibi (22) matriculated at Mondeor High School in Johannesburg and is completing his BSc Honours in Physics at the University of Cape Town, working on Random Walks on Lie Groups. Before this, he completed undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science. This led to his interest in how to build dynamical physics simulations in low resource environments, an idea he pursued during his time at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, where he is now a fellow. Mothibi intends to read for an MSc in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics and an MSc in Mathematical Sciences at Oxford University. His future research interests lie in the applications of topology to aspects of condensed matter physics such as topological order and phase transitions.
Outside of academics, Mothibi is an avid cricket player and a beatmaker composing Lo-Fi instrumentals.
HUMAIRAA MOOSA (KwaZulu-Natal Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of KwaZulu-Natal BCom (Accounting & Finance) and University of Stellenbosch BCom Honours (Business & Management)
A summa cum laude graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Humairaa (23) is an activist, entrepreneur and student leader. She is currently completing her Honours degree as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar at Stellenbosch University. Her Honours research focused on the application of renewable energy as a solution to the load-shedding crisis in South Africa and a key tool for achieving sustainability and decarbonisation. Working to realise the right to a meaningful education for all is a powerful motivator for her. During her undergraduate studies, she co-founded an award-winning Ed-tech start-up called Bursary Buffet that works to make access to tertiary education as easy as it should be. Humairaa strives to live a life of service. She has previously served as President of both the UNICEF and Golden Key International Honours Societies at UKZN. She is a Fellow at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, a recipient of the prestigious Abe Bailey Travel Fellowship as well as the Brenda Gourley Scholarship in recognition of her academic excellence and strong service ethic. She is passionate about inclusive economic development and collaborative, interdisciplinary research, particularly within the fields of mental health, climate change, access to education and literacy. At Oxford University Humairaa hopes to read for an MSc in Environmental Change and Management, and to visit the many beautiful libraries that the city is home to.
Always keen to try new things, Humairaa is a budding woodworker, and is currently trying to master Indian cuisine.
LEAGO SEBESHO (South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of Cape Town, MBChB
Leago (26) is a junior doctor and aspiring clinician-scientist presently in the final stages of her internship at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. She successfully earned a Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery from the University of Cape Town in 2021. Her achievements include being honoured with the Bongani Mayosi Academic Prize and Foreman Prize, both of which commend her academic excellence, dedication to community upliftment, and substantial contributions to student affairs. Within the university community, Leago held leadership roles in various structures, notably serving as the Deputy Chairperson of the Health Sciences Students’ Council and as the Convenor of UCT Student Parliament. In 2019, she received both the Abe Bailey Scholarship and Klaus-Jurgen Bathe Leadership Scholarship, recognising her leadership qualities and dedication to fostering sustainable change in Africa. Leago is deeply committed to youth development and empowerment. She has facilitated a youth development programme in rural Eastern Cape through which young learners get taught computer skills, reproductive health, career opportunities and personal development. Her overarching vision is to contribute to the improvement of health outcomes in Africa by making a meaningful impact on the African health sector through her research endeavours. Ultimately, she aspires to influence health policy, with a particular focus on issues affecting vulnerable communities. In her leisure time, Leago can be found engrossed in a novel, avidly following sports, exploring new destinations, or enjoying quality time socializing with family and friends.
BRADLEY SEGAL (South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of the Witwatersrand, MBBCh, MSc in Biomedical Engineering
Bradley (26) hails from Johannesburg and matriculated at King David School (Victory Park). A South African medical doctor and biomedical engineer, Brad combines his clinical experience with a deep interest in healthcare technology. Holding a cum laude MBBCh and an MSc in Biomedical Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, his work bridges the gap between medical practice and technological innovation. Focused on pragmatic solutions for healthcare challenges, Bradley has contributed to digital health projects, particularly in low-resource environments. His expertise in AI, machine learning, and 3D printing underscores his commitment to practical and accessible healthcare advancements. As a Rhodes Scholar, he seeks to explore health data science at Oxford, aiming to harness data-driven insights to improve healthcare outcomes globally.
BERTHA TOBIAS (BLMNS (Namibia) Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
Claremont McKenna College (USA), BA Honours (International Relations & Leadership)
A Namibian by birth, Bertha (23) is an alumna of the United World College in China. At the tertiary level, Bertha majored in International Relations and minored in Leadership Studies at Claremont McKenna College in California, USA. She is interested in energy and natural resource management in emerging economies. Most recently, she interned at an investment management firm where she researched & developed growth strategies for a catalytic biomass fund meant to support sustainable green-fields in Namibia. She frequently publishes research-based opinions on best practices for budding energy industries.
She is a certified Public Leadership Fellow of the Apolitical Academy Southern Africa, and plans to read for the MSc in Environmental Change & Management at Oxford University. In her free time, Bertha is the executive producer of a television show, Spotlight, which chronicles the experiences of young African entrepreneurs. Having served on the frontlines of a national protest movement against femicide, she serves in a voluntary role as a #BeFree Ambassador, a flagship project under the Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia. She enjoys weight-lifting and reading in her free time.
SAVANNAH VERHAGE (South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholar-Elect, 2024)
University of Cape Town, MBChB
Savannah (26) is a Master of Public Health student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and a junior doctor, currently working at Khayelitsha District Hospital in the Western Cape, South Africa. Savannah has a keen interest in Global Health, a discipline that allows her to combine her passion for clinical medicine with her heart for improving equity and social justice in healthcare. Savannah has held numerous leadership positions in the healthcare field, including President of the UCT and Southern African Student Surgical Societies in 2020 and Director of Mentorship and Professional Outreach for the International Association of Student Surgical Societies in 2023.
Savannah is also a Reach Alliance researcher, where she is investigating ways to make healthcare services more accessible to those that are the hardest to reach in society, with a focus on developing local South African solutions that address the sustainable development goals. Savannah is passionate about outreach and has established and led a number of outreach initiatives aimed at improving access to healthcare services in her local community, for which she was recently awarded the “Outstanding Youth Delegate” Award at the 28th Session of the AFS Youth Assembly in New York City.
At Oxford, Savannah hopes to continue working towards her dream of achieving “Health for All” by pursuing a degree in health policy. Her aim is to utilise her medical career to engage beyond her clinical role, acting as an advocate and researcher, working to ensure that South Africa occupies a space on the Global Health agenda.
In her spare time, you will find Savannah hiking, attempting to surf, travelling the globe and spending time with friends and family.