Lessons From The Mandela Washington Fellowship

Jaki at the Mandela Washington Fellowship with Fellows from Gabon and Nigeria and the public speaking Instructor.


Many questions abound on Africa, its culture and people. This June I was privileged to join 60 other young Kenyan Leaders to participate in the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship. This is a leadership development program that aims to equip the next generation of young African leaders with skills and networks to effectively achieve their goals for Africa. I share below some insights garnered from the life changing experience.


If not you then who?
you cannot smile with someone else’s teeth’ – Kalenjin proverb
Only you know the issues your community faces, and as such everyone can observe and bring the changes they wish to see in their society. Four years ago, Women In technology was founded to address their disappointingly low numbers in the division. This has improved greatly from the 9% in 2013, to the 22% at present. This is a beautiful example of a solution driven by those that face the challenge.


Embrace the hurdles
‘if you are building a house and a nail breaks, do you stop building or do you change the nail?’ – Rwandese proverb,
Three years ago, the Technology Internship on boarded the very first hearing impaired interns. Two of those interns now permanent employees. A policy hurdle had to be faced. The 47-in_one solar labs also faced a huge one. Where do we get the money?
Anything worth doing comes with numerous challenges and hurdles. It is overcoming these hurdles, facing them head on that makes the victory all the more worthwhile. Learning how to negotiate, diplomatically resolve conflict, and always having win-win mentality will go a long way in overcoming whatever challenges crop up.


By all means, be afraid
‘The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear- Nelson Mandela
The fear that we have implemented the wrong solution, done the wrong budget, made the wrong decision, may be present and must be embraced. This fear that spurs us to always do the right thing, should not be a reason to stop venture into the unknown. Let our fear of not serving and delivering on our responsibilities spur us on to a higher standard. By all means be afraid of not being excellent.


To be a good leader, we must be able to be a good follower too.  It is no mystery that a good leader, and a good follower share the same attributes such as believing in the goal, integrity, diligence, empathy and accountability.
These are just some of learnings that rung loud and clear in making the world a better place. Our efforts collectively, will make the changes that we want to see in Africa. An Ubuntu saying goes, if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.
Great things do happen when we come together. #Twaweza.


Jaki at the Mandela Washington Fellowship closing Ceremony with Fellows from Rwanda, Uganda , Sudan and Burundi, Washington DC


Addressing the Closing Ceremony at Arizona State University on the state of women in Kenya


Jaki with other fellows at a meeting with the Maricopa Association of Governors, Arizona



Community Service: Packaging relief food for children

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