Executive Secretary of the International Youth Parliament Thokozile Nhlumayo will join the Youth African Leaders Initiative (YALI) for its 2021 class of Mandela Washington Fellows. In the six years since its creation, the Fellowship has trained over 4,000 Sub-Saharan African activists through Leadership Institutes at American universities and professional development experiences, culminating in D.C.-based Fellow Summits. YALI selects Fellows based on their record of leadership and commitment to public service, making Thokozile an outstanding candidate.
Several years ago, Thokozile was denied the opportunity to run for office due to her age, inspiring her to become a voice for youth leadership in South Africa. She created an online campaign entitled “Not Too Young to Lead,” whose focus she described as “holding governments in Africa accountable on the number of young people they appoint in office.” She aimed to create legal reform encouraging youth participation in governance. The success of this powerful movement led to Thokozile’s appointment as Executive Secretary of the International Youth Parliament, a non-profit that “promotes active sustainable participation and inclusion of youth in decision making” across 35 countries in Africa.
Another previous South Africa Victory Institute trainee, Mpho Buntse, joined the Mandela Fellowship for its 2018 cohort. Now the National Spokesperson of the South African ruling political party’s Women’s League LGBTI+ Desk launched earlier this year, Mpho boasts a long history of LGBTQ activism. Since his tenure as a Mandela Fellow, Mpho has started development on several major projects highlighting and uplifting South Africa’s LGBTQ community.
Both Mpho and Thokozile marked the importance of their time with Victory Institute in attaining both the Fellowship and their career achievements. In 2017, Mpho joined Victory for its World Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., marking his first trip to the United States. At this Conference, Mpho developed his queer organizing skills and his understanding of U.S. politics, enabling him an easier transition during his Philadelphia placement with the Fellowship.
He and Thokozile joined Victory Institute for its LGBTQ Political Leadership Institute in South Africa in 2017 and 2019 respectively. The Institute trained them with “a hybrid of innovative content” featuring networking and elected official engagement education. Thokozile emphasized the Leadership Institute’s development of her communication and organization skills, both of which played “a vital role in [her] political career to help [her] become a competent politician” and “understand how to engage with different political systems.” She consistently uses the knowledge she gained with Victory Institute in her position with the International Youth Parliament to increase the organization’s membership and political impact, abilities she will further develop during the Mandela Fellowship.
Victory Institute’s various International Political Leadership Institutes work to help leaders across the world like Thokozile and Mpho to create political and cultural change, encouraging the outspoken voices of global LGBTQ communities. Victory Institute congratulates Thokozile on her achievement and looks forward to the leadership she will continue to exhibit.