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Magdalene College Cambridge to set up Memorial Foundation to secure future of Mandela Magdalene Scholarships for South African graduates and aid establishment of University Professorship in the history of humanity in Africa.
Magdalene College Cambridge is greatly saddened to hear the news of the death of its Honorary Fellow, Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. We recall with fond affection the day in May 2001 - the 'day the dons danced' in the words of the BBC's John Simpson (also an Honorary Fellow of the College) - when he visited the College for his installation.
On that day he was introduced to 'his' scholars. The Mandela Magdalene College Scholarships were announced in March 1995 when Dr Mandela agreed to support the scholarships by lending his name to the initiative. In this letter of acceptance, Madiba wrote: 'I approve the use of my name for the Scholarship to assist South African students. Our country is in dire need of skilled men and women to service our new democracy. We are deeply grateful that Magdalene College took the initiative to assist.' The scholarships enable graduates from South Africa to pursue one-year taught postgraduate courses of study at the University of Cambridge in subjects relevant to the reconstruction of South Africa. Candidates are expected to return to South Africa following their year in Cambridge. The first Scholarship was awarded to Mr Thabo Makupula in 1995 and since then the College has generally welcomed one or two, sometimes three, graduate students from South Africa every year. Ms Jessica Staples, studying for a Master’s in Law and Mr Amandla Mabona, taking a Master’s in Advanced Computer Science, are the current Mandela Magdalene Scholars in residence. The College can only manage to sponsor two Mandela Scholars every year with the substantial help of ‘The Cambridge Commonwealth European and International Trust’ Scholarship funds. However, as the costs of study for students have risen, and the matched Commonwealth funding has become more stretched, this pattern of graduate student support is now no longer sustainable. The challenge, therefore, is to fully endow the Scholarship scheme; this will require a minimum endowment of £750,000, indeed double that amount, if we wish to continue to fund two scholars each year.
In this connection, the College intends, as part of its tribute to one of the greatest of its Honorary Fellows, to expand the scope of the Mandela legacy at Magdalene. In addition to seeking full funding for the existing Scholarships, we shall be supporting the University's goal of establishing a new Professorial Chair in African Archaeology in memory of Nelson Mandela. Africa holds a unique place in human history as the cradle of the human race itself, and the prehistory and archaeology of the Continent are of unparalleled importance. Africa can and does take pride in this; and it is appropriate to bring together this historical legacy with the memory of the person who, more than anyone else has represented for our own times the dignity of human beings even in the darkest periods of public inhumanity.
Our hope is, through a revived and extended ‘Mandela Magdalene Memorial Foundation at Cambridge’ to support the establishing of this senior position in a University with a world-class reputation in African Archaeology, and to create new opportunities for younger scholars as well.