Young leaders of Africa visiting Texas Tech

The Mandela Washington fellowship invites young leaders between the ages of 25 to 35 from every country in sub-Saharan Africa.
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 5:40 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Mandela Washington fellowship invites young leaders between the ages of 25 to 35 from every country in sub-Saharan Africa to the U.S. for academic and leadership training.

Seven-hundred fellows are split between 28 higher education institutes across 20 states. Texas Tech University is one of two Texas institutions to host the program.

“They are trying to come up with something that they want to implement and execute when they get back home,” Associate Director of international affairs, Michael Johnson said.

These fellows are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and countries.

“When you hear about what they’re trying to do, you’re incredibly humbled,” Johnson said.

This fellowship offers them the opportunity to learn new creative styles of leadership, innovation, and partnership to bring back to their home countries. Akwasi Tago is an entrepreneur and production assistant for cocoa farmers back in Ghana.

“I work in a community where there are about 600 cocoa farmers and we make sure they have the knowledge and the skills to assist in production and maintain the quality of cocoa beans that comes out of the country,” Mandela fellow, Akwasi Tago said.

Akwasi said he had never heard of Lubbock before this fellowship and almost backed out.

“I did a quick Google search and I said okay let’s see how it goes. Once I’ve been here Texas has been warm; I always say the city gets hot, the people are warm,” Akwasi Tago said.

Akwasi is hoping to gain the tools to bring farmers in his community a source to digitally map agricultural land, which Ghana lacks.

“That’s one thing that I hope to build and take back home, even in my community - 600 farmers that’s a huge impact.”

But leaving home for six weeks comes with many challenges, some Akwasi knows firsthand after missing his wedding anniversary and his son’s birth.

“Having to manage this and be in school, its been difficult, but we sail through” Tago said.

And the fellows aren’t the only ones learning. Staff said they better their program every year because of what they learn from the fellows.

The fellows will leave for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit at the end of the month, where they will meet other fellows and U.S. leaders to discuss shared challenges and solutions to better enrich both nations.