This year’s Mandela Washington Fellowship will have 10 promising young South Sudanese, eager to acquire essential leadership skills to later on return home to mentor their peers and also transform their local communities.
Anibiko Martin, a 29-year-old successful entrepreneur and civil society activist from Western Equatoria State, is currently eyeing the date of June 21 to land in Virginia State to enroll for his studies in civic engagement at the prestigious Presidential Precinct in Charlottesville.
Presidential Precinct is a non-profit organization that unites the University of Virginia, College of William & Mary.
Martin has over the years, built and managed his business, distant purchasing link (DPL) which specializes in construction as well as supply of German- made solar panels and batteries.
He also works as project director for Foundation for Youth Empowerment, a community-based organization in Western Equatoria State.
Martin said he is grateful to be part of the 2023 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
“I actually saw it on the Facebook page of the United States Embassy, I saw it and told to myself this is a wonderful opportunity, given that I am someone who is a leader in my community and also as well in business I am leading a group of people in my company, so I felt this is a perfect opportunity for me and I decided to apply for it,” he told The Juba Echo during the farewell reception organized by the U.S embassy at Rainbow hotel in Juba.
“When I return from there (Virginia) it will be an opportunity for me to mentor other young leaders, because I believe I am not the only young person with potential, there are a lot of young people out there with potential to make change in their communities,” Martin added.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2023 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills, and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities, according to a statement on it’s website.
The six-week leadership training in U.S. College or University will see the Fellows share their experiences with and learn from U.S. citizens and other Fellows.
They will also explore industries beyond their daily work and expand their expertise, participate in a Summit with young African leaders, meet with U.S government, civic, and business leaders, and strengthen their work through new connections, skills, and ideas.
In addition, the trainees will join a continental and global Alumni network to help them seek innovative solutions to common challenges.
Elizabeth Biniya Moga Yokwe, (Left) and Nasadu Emma (Right) attend the farewell reception for YALI.
Nasadu Emma, 35, who operates a fast food restaurant in Rock city, is also heading to the University of Texas at Austin to study leadership in business.
She applied in October last year for the YALI Fellowship, and is among the few people to qualify out of about 1,200 applicants.
“When I return, I hope to grow my business so that it becomes good testimony of my visit to the U.S. I hope to see other people motivated and encouraged to do business,” Emma said.
Emma added that she will also mentor young people on business startups.
Reech Malual, managing partner at the Ancestral Advocates and deputy spokesperson of the South Sudan Bar Association, said that he hopes to share knowledge and skills in public management affairs with law enforcement agencies, judiciary and ministry of justice and constitutional affairs.
He is heading to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan to study public management.
“We do understand that we are passing through a lot of challenges as a country, for one public management is still a challenge, institutions are not empowered including the South Sudan Bar Association that I am involved,” he said.
“So one thing that is going to help is that any leadership knowledge that I am going to get from the U.S is going to help transform the bar association, and the rest of the institutions that I have access to including law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary and the ministry of justice,” Malual disclosed.
He said that young people in South Sudan have a responsibility to help transform the fortunes of the country.
“We need to make sure that we are also near to the countries that we see as an example in democracy, public management or public accountability. So it is our responsibility to be able to change the image of our country,” Malual said.
Elizabeth Biniya Moga Yokwe, 27, qualified to study civic engagement at the University of Delaware, and is hoping to enrich her leadership skills to raise public awareness on governance issues.
“Civic engagement is in line with the work I do, I am a program coordinator for South Sudan Women’s Coalition and we focus on different things like women empowerment in politics, for example right now we are focusing on women participation and awareness in the constitution making process,” she said.
“I want to learn more on how to do my job better; I want to meet people with different minds and from diverse cultures, because when you get to interact with such people and network, your mind opens up, and you begin to gain new ideas. I don’t want to be so stuck with ideas only based on what is in front of me,” Moga said.