Good afternoon, Mandela Washington Fellows!
It is my pleasure to be here today to re-congratulate you on your selection for the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship program and to introduce you to the Namibian people.
All of you should be enormously proud of your accomplishment. Congratulations.
To the members of the media with us here today: the diverse group of young leaders you see before you were selected out of more than 250 highly qualified candidates from across Namibia.
All have proven accomplishments in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, and communities.
Among the fellows with us this afternoon we have a gospel singer, a radio presenter, a park warden, lawyers, public health professionals, educators, and entrepreneurs.
Collectively, they work to prevent money laundering, poaching, and human trafficking; drive innovation in Namibia’s agriculture and energy sectors, promote arts and culture, and empower young women and girls to achieve their full potential.
These inspiring young people share a common dream. A dream of contributing to Namibia’s continued development, alleviating poverty, and creating new opportunities for their country. These are dreams that the American people share and dreams the United States Government is proud to support.
Tomorrow, these fellows will embark for the United States on what will be a life-changing experience not only for them as individuals but for their communities and Namibia at large.
Each of you will have an opportunity to take part in a six-week academic and leadership institute at a U.S. college or university where you will hone your existing skills, gain new knowledge, and expand your professional networks both in the United States and around the world.
As a Mandela Washington Fellow, you will join a small and distinguished club of alumni spread throughout every country in sub-Saharan Africa, including 110 right here in Namibia.
This network will open new doors, create untold opportunities, and help you to change the world.
The Young African Leaders initiative is a long-term investment in you, in Africa, and the future that we can build together. We believe in you. I believe in you. And I cannot wait to see the remarkable things that you will achieve.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is not just the name of a program—it is the continuation of Nelson Mandela’s legacy of leadership, peace, and service.
By applying Mandela’s teachings of servant leadership, you will not only ignite lasting change in your own communities but will also accomplish something much greater: the strengthening of the entire African continent.
As you set off on this journey, I encourage you to embrace this opportunity with all your heart and remember that this program is just the beginning of our engagement with all of you. Not the end.
I look forward to welcoming you back to Namibia in the weeks ahead, hearing about your experiences, and continuing to partner with you to create a healthier, stronger, and more prosperous Namibia for all.