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To all young Sierra Leoneans; the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship awaits you!

Consider this an open letter to my fellow young Sierra Leoneans

Happy Friday!

And to all observers of the Christian faith, I wish you all a reflective and wonderful Good Friday.

With Uncle Coro(na) still on the loose, I do hope we are all putting (continued) personal measures in place to ensure the best for ourselves, our loved ones and those in our communities i.e frequent and proper hand washing, avoiding public spaces that attract crowds, limiting mobility to essentials, staying hydrated and the list goes on. For further guidelines on how to stay safe during Coronavirus' World Tour, please check out the World Health Organization's guidelines and also visit the Goverment of Sierra Leone's Facebook pages: Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MOIC) on the current statistics of COVID-19.

Today, I am happy to state there have been no new cases. We still remain at seven (7) cases and two hundred and fifty five (255) cases are in quarantine according to the Awoko Newspaper Text Alert at 11:58am and the MOIC update yesterday - Thursday, April 9 2020 at 7:25pm.

During this long holiday with the Government of Sierra Leone having declared Good Friday and Easter Monday holidays comme d'habitude (as usual) as a Public Holiday in the Republic; the sentiment of celebration has been lost over Sierra Leoneans during this time. Easter weekend is a festive time for all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of religious background. It is a time where we eat, dance and go to the beach. The Government has advised against beach affairs 😔 so we shall embrace togetherness humbly in our respective abodes. Eh ya...Corona pwell game fo wi ol! (Corona has ruined our fun!).

During this four day weekend, I hope Sierra Leoneans between the ages of 19-29 will take advantage of being at home and those who have access to internet will apply for the prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship!

For those who follow my work I am a big #Twitterhead; I LOVE Twitter. Twitter is a great social media platform to exchange ideas with like minded individuals, follow influential people in your field, banter and more. It was on Twitter that the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship team reached out to me.

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship is a prestigious opportunity for young leaders to complete postgraduate study in South Arica and to participate in a leadership development program. The scholarship covers tuition for a one-year Honours degree or a two-year Masters degree in any field at a recognised South African institution of higher education. It also includes tuition and registration fees, allowances for study materials, research, and medical aid, accommodation and meals, and economy class travel to and from Sierra Leone to the South African university at the beginning and end of your degree. Successful applicants also receive a personal allowance.

Why did the Mandela Rhodes Foundation reach out to me?

Well, when I am not causing trouble online, I actually tweet about social-entrepreneurship, girl empowerment and Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR). It was through my social entrepreneurship tweets that the Mandela Rhodes Foundation contacted me and asked if I would amplify their work to Sierra Leoneans and of course I obliged.

Again, why?

Because believe it or not, not a SINGLE Sierra Leonean has been awarded a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship to date.

Saying I was shocked was an understatement. I was flabbergasted, I was --

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is one of Nelson Mandela’s three official legacy organizations. It was founded in 2003 in partnership with the Rhodes Trust with the mission to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa.

I cannot believe in 17 years since its inception a single Sierra Leonean hasn't been awarded this scholarship. Let's wake up Salone!

There are many opportunities available for young people online and I understand sometimes accessing this information can be a challenge due to several socio-economic constraints especially in Africa but in this context Sierra Leone. But if you are reading this and you meet any of these criteria (or you know someone who does), I strongly encourage you to apply (or encourage someone to apply). I'm not strongly encouraging women to apply (because those kind of call for applications annoy me and that's a conversation for another day) I strongly encourage every young Sierra Leonean to apply.

In a nutshell, the requirements to be eligible for the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship are as follows:

1. Must be between the ages of 19-29

2. Must have a first degree, with at least an Upper Second Class Honors (2:1) from a recognized and accredited tertiary institution in Sierra Leone.

3. Have demonstrated the potential to embody the Mandela Rhodes Foundation's founding principles: reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship and leadership. You must have already assumed leadership and made an impact on your campus or your community.

Does this sound like you?

If so, please do apply. The deadline has been extended to Thursday, April 23 2020 (formerly Thursday, April 16 2020).

For more information about the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, visit their website here -(

To apply directly, the link to the application is here -

It is my hope that many applications will be written over the weekend and submitted by or before the prescribed deadline. No one can tell Sierra Leonean stories, share and create Sierra Leonean experiences and lead our nation than Sierra Leoneans. I look forward to hearing about selected Sierra Leoneans in this program.

If you are planning to apply, I will be doing a thread on Twitter over the long weekend, follow me on Twitter at Yasmine Bilkis Ibrahim - @minabilkis and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation at @MRF_Africa for updates and use the hashtag #AspireToBe21

Good luck in advance to our young Sierra Leonean applicants! And best of luck to the upcoming cohort!

ergo sum cogito

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