For the second year in a row, this summer Wagner College hosted a group of 25 young African leaders for a six-week marathon institute as part of President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship.
The Mandela Fellowship program brought 500 young African leaders to 20 colleges and universities throughout the United States this summer to study business entrepreneurship, government leadership or civic institutions. Wagner was the only small college in America chosen for this State Department program.
Wagner College’s Mandela Fellowship cohort cast a very big shadow at the YALI Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C., at the end of the summer program. On Monday, Aug. 3, all 500 Fellows came together for a town meeting hosted by President Obama himself.
In his introductory remarks, Obama talked about how Wagner Fellow Brian “B Flow” Bwembya was using his talents as a musician to lift up young people in his native Zambia. (Later that week, NPR’s Ina Yang profiled “B Flow” in a story about his conversion from making “music for lovers” to anthems that lift up women in society. The story was titled, “Why The Zambian Hip-Hopper ‘B Flow’ Changed His Tune.”)
When it came time for the Q&A portion of the YALI town meeting, President Obama took his final question from Wagner Fellow Olusola Owonikoko of Nigeria.
Following the town meeting, Obama invited 8 Mandela Fellows to meet at the White House with National Security Adviser and former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice — and out of those 8 chosen from among the 500 Fellows, 2 were Wagner Fellows: Emmanuel Siaway Jr. of Liberia, and Olusola Owonikoko.
Watch these clips from the YALI Presidential Summit:
On the same day as the YALI Presidential Summit, Voice of America’s daily African news program, Africa 54, aired a story about the Mandela Washington Fellowship that featured Wagner College Fellow Aissatou “Aicha” Diallo of Conakry, Guinea. The story was reported by Philip Alexiou and Morgane Guirriec:
VOA's Africa 54 television news program profiled Wagner Mandela Fellow Chinomnso Ibe on its Aug. 7 broadcast. Chinomnso, a civic leader from Abuja, Nigeria, is founder and CEO of the Traffina Foundation for Community Health, which manufactures and distributes a simple, inexpensive kit to ensure the safe, hygienic delivery of babies, especially in areas with no access to health clinics. The story was reported by Philip Alexiou:
The Voice of America Hausa language service also recorded an interview with Wagner College Fellow Ruqqaya Nasir Sani of Nigeria on the question, “What goal do you want to achieve next in your life?”
Newspapers, electronic news media, and U.S. embassy websites across sub-Saharan Africa featured news stories about Wagner College’s Mandela Washington Fellows. Ruqqaya shared with us a photo of one story about her Mandela Fellowship experience that appeared in the Aug. 6 issue of the Daily Trust, a newspaper published in Abuja, Nigeria: