Rhodes Alumni South Africa

Our mission is to provide a community for Rhodes Scholars in Southern Africa. The Association comprises Senior Scholars from the constituency, as well as resident Scholars in Oxford, and Scholars from other parts of the world who are currently living in South Africa.

2024 RSE Group Photos

Meet the Southern African Rhodes Scholars-Elect 2024

The 2023 Selection Season is a wrap! We are delighted to announce the winners of the Rhodes Scholarships for Southern Africa for 2024. Meet our inspirational Scholars-Elect here

SAARS Bon Voyage and Alumni Conference - Saturday 26 August 2023, Cape Town

The  Southern African Association of Rhodes Scholars (SAARS) hosted the annual Bon Voyage and Alumni Conference on Saturday, 26 August 2023, at the Kelvin Grove Club in Cape Town. The programme included fascinating talks by Billy Downer (South Africa-at-Large & Brasenose 1980) and Christopher Trisos (South Africa-at-Large & Wolfson 2008); an introduction of the twelve Rhodes Scholars-Elect (2023) from South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe to the Rhodes community; and a panel discussion on the Trust's key focus areas over the last two years. The event was a wonderful community-builder; allowed the new cohort of Southern African Rhodes Scholars-Elect to engage with senior Scholars; and provided a wonderful social opportunity for our alumni to catch up with old friends and make new connections over lunch and drinks. The post-event report is available here.


Rhodies in Gauteng WhatsApp Group

Thanks to Dr Thomas Brennan (Diocesan College & & Keble 2004), who recently initiated a WhatsApp Group for Gauteng-based Rhodes Scholars. If you would like to be included on the Group, please e-mail your details to: southernafrica.secretary@rhodestrust.com


Julian Ogilvie Thompson (Diocesan College, Rondebosch & Worcester 1953)

SAARS mourns the death of Julian, affectionately known as JOT, who died aged 89 on 11 August 2023 in Johannesburg, after a period of declining health. Julian lived a good, long, and fulfilling life, and was very generous to the Rhodes Trust. We will miss his presence at our SAARS events. Deepest sympathies to his four children, Christopher, Rachel, Anthony, and Katharine and their families.




Seán Day (South African College School, Newlands & Oriel 1974) 

It is with great sadness that SAARS informs you that Seán passed away on July 27th 2023, after a long and valiant struggle with an ALS-like illness. He died at his home in the USA, peacefully, and surrounded by his family.

Tribute to Seán: https://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/media/47746/remembering-c-sean-day.pdf 


Eusebius McKaiser (South Africa-at-Large & St Antony's 2003)

On behalf of all at the Rhodes Trust, we are heartbroken to share that Eusebius McKaiser (South Africa-at-Large & St Antony's 2003) passed away on 30 May 2023 from an apparent epileptic seizure.  He was taken from us tragically young, at the age of 45. A prolific writer and broadcaster, Eusebius was well known across South Africa and beyond for his astute political commentary, grounded in his academic training as a moral philosopher. Deepest sympathies to his partner, Nduduzo, their family and friends, and all who knew and admired Eusebius and his work.

Tribute to Eusebius McKaiser

Eusebius McKaiser: Brilliant, cocky, unapologetically himself (dailymaverick.co.za)


Ben Rabinowitz (South African College School, Newlands & Brasenose 1953)

SAARS is saddened to inform you of the passing of Bennie Rabinowitz in May 2023. Ben obtained a BA (with distinction) from UCT, was awarded a SACS Rhodes Scholarship and went up to Oxford, receiving his MA Law there. He had been semi-retired from the property industry since 2005. He loved music and supported many cultural, educational and other charitable institutions. He initiated the successful campaign to save Oudekraal from property development, helped save Princess Vlei and led the campaign by SEAFA to save the Sea Point beachfront for the community. He received the Mayor’s Medal for Philanthropy, the Inyathelo Award for Lifetime Philanthropy, the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Club of Sea Point and the Spectemur Agendo Award from SACS and in 2013, the UCT President of Convocation Medal. He was also on the board of the Cape Town Concert Series, Croxton, LEAP Science & Maths School, Musiquelaine SA and the Cape Jewish Seniors Association and a trustee of the Ben and Shirley Rabinowitz Cricket Trust. RIP Bennie.

Charles Simkins (Transvaal & Balliol 1970)

It is with great sadness that SAARS informs you that Charles Simkins died peacefully, after a long illness, on 08 December 2022. This followed close on the passing of his beloved wife Rae, some 48 hours earlier. Please find below tributes issued by the Helen Suzman Foundation and fellow Rhodes Scholar, RW Johnson (Natal & Magdalen 1964). RIP dear Charles.

In memoriam Charles Simkins — Helen Suzman Foundation (hsf.org.za)

Charles Simkins remembered - OPINION | Politicsweb


John Kane-Berman (Transvaal & Pembroke 1969)

It is with sadness that SAARS advises that John Kane-Berman (Transvaal & Pembroke 1969) passed away on 27 July 2022. Deepest sympathies to his partner of many years, Pierre Roestorf, and his extended family. 

Tribute: The Hsf Remembers John Kane-Berman — Helen Suzman Foundation

Former Institute of Race Relations CEO John Kane-Berman dies (businesslive.co.za)

Organising Committee

Lisa Klein headshot

Dr Lisa Klein

South Africa-at-Large & St Antony's 1994

Charne Lavery, 2019
Events Committee

Dr Charne Lavery

South Africa-at-Large & Balliol 2008

News archive

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It was wonderful to see our Scholars from across the world at the annual alumni get-together on Wednesday 10 May 2023. Over 100 Scholars, representing seven decades of Scholars, signed up for this virtual event. Kumi Naidoo (South Africa-at-Large & Magdalen 1987), global champion of climate and social justice and moral lodestar, delivered the keynote address in brilliant style. He cautioned that the decade ahead was perhaps the most important in our history, and could determine humankind’s future. Kumi noted that “pessimism was a luxury the world cannot afford”. Given the perfect storm of crises facing our planet (pandemics, climate change, poverty and inequality), the key leadership challenge is to keep younger generations energized on the tasks ahead. Kumi’s address is available here.

Read the full report.

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We had a wonderful SAARS alumni event in Cape Town on 15 March 2023. The reception was hosted by Robert Wilkinson (Diocesan College & Balliol 1993) at his beautiful home, Tudor Lodge, in Claremont (former HQ of the British Council in Cape Town) and the weather could not have been more perfect.

Some 68 Scholars, from across the Rhodes constituencies, and their partners registered for the event. First year students from the renowned Silwood Cookery School in Cape Town catered and there was a lovely buzz, as old friends reconnected and made new connections.

The Warden, Dr Elizabeth Kiss, addressed the gathering and there was a lot of interest in the Trust's strategy for 2028, the Big Build, the upcoming 120th anniversary, changes to the application process, an update on the Trust's partnerships, and the engagement around the Schools Scholarships. The Warden's address can be viewed here.

SAARS Events Committee Member, Charne Lavery (South Africa-at-Large & Balliol 2008) took some great photos – see them here.

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We are delighted to introduce you to our Rhodes Scholars-Elect for 2023. Diverse in backgrounds and disciplines, experiences and interests, personalities and talents, our new cohort of Scholars-Elect personifies what the Warden refers to as “unlike-minded but like-hearted”. Academically gifted, socially committed and exceptional young leaders, we believe that the Rhodes Scholars-Elect of 2023 will leave their mark on our country, our continent and the world in the years to come. Read more about the Class of 2023.

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Rhodes Scholars from across seven decades gathered at Olives & Plates (Empire Place) in Sandton for the annual Bon Voyage & Welcome Home Dinner on 08 September 2022. It was a very happy evening, at which Alumni reconnected with old friends, welcomed home recently returned Rhodes Scholars, and celebrated the Rhodes Scholars-Elect of 2022, who departed for Oxford on 23 September. SA-at-Large Scholar-Elect Justin Winchester introduced the new cohort to the assembled Scholars; and recently returned Scholar, Nomfundo Ramalekana (SA-at-Large & Lady Margaret Hall 2015) reflected on her journey and coming home.

Comments from Scholars about the event:

Nick Ferreira: Last night was a thoroughly joyful occasion. Thank you so much.

Edwin Cameron: What a wonderful evening! Thank you to each of you, Lisa, Charne, Beverley. It was quite joyful and touching and extremely well organised. And a particular joy to see so many talented, exuberant, engaging young people together. With many many fond and affectionate wishes.

Charne Lavery: That was such an incredible event -- warm, convivial, community-building - thank you!!

Claire McCann: Thank you for an absolutely STUNNING Bon Voyage dinner last night. It was such a special night, and so lovely to meet the other scholars and of course the rest of my cohort.

View photos from the evening.

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Over 100 African-elected Rhodes Scholars, from across the world, gathered virtually on 1 June 2022 to enjoy a diverse programme of speakers; and to catch up with their peers in virtual breakaway sessions. The post-event report is available here.

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Ten exceptional young leaders from Southern Africa have been announced as the Rhodes Scholars-Elect for 2022, including a graduate from eSwatini (thought to be the first BLMNS Scholar from that country), and two Scholars hailing from the same hamlet, Matatiele, situated at the junction of KZN, the Eastern Cape and Lesotho. Our 2022 Rhodes Scholars-Elect are diverse in backgrounds and disciplines and we are thrilled to introduce them to you. Please click here.

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Launched on 15 September 2021Archive of Kindness by Jess Auerbach (South Africa-at-Large & St Antony's 2009) is an uplifting collection of stories sourced during the Covid-19 pandemic. In March 2020 when lockdown was announced, Jess observed an outpouring of support between ordinary residents in South Africa. She began to document these ‘micro-kindnesses’ and created a website to record them, which received significant international and local attention. She later expanded this archive with her students at North-West University, ultimately recording approximately 1500 stories of remarkable kindness and care. Click here to view a short video about the book.

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Congratulations to Justice Edwin Cameron (SA-at-Large & Keble 1976) on being awarded the Order of the Baobab (Gold), one of the highest orders accorded to South Africans who have contributed to the community. The award ceremony will be held on 18 November and Edwin will be recognised for "prolific justice" and his contribution to the judicial system, as well as his “tireless campaigning against the stigma of HIV and AIDS, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities”. Edwin is a retired Judge of the Constitutional Court and is currently the Inspecting Judge of Correctional Services. Read more about Justice Edwin Cameron and the other recipients of the National Order. 

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More than 120 Rhodes Scholars, elected from constituencies across Africa, registered for Bon Voyage on September 14th. Based in countries across the globe and representing seven decades of Scholars, the community gathered virtually to meet the Scholars-Elect of 2021, to wish them well as they go up to Oxford University, and to connect with fellow alumni. Read the full report on the event here

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Congratulations to Kuseni Dlamini (South Africa-at-Large & St Peter's 1994) on his appointment as the Chair of Council at the University of Pretoria (UP) on 28 April 2021. We look forward to his leadership of this institution of academic excellence and to growing the number of Rhodes Scholars from UP in the years ahead. Kuseni’s appointment brings to three, the number of South African Rhodes Scholars who have taken on significant leadership roles at institutions of higher education in South Africa; and highlights the character, service and leadership for which our Scholars are renowned. Well done to Kuseni as he joins the “troika” with Edwin Cameron (Chancellor, Stellenbosch University) and Isaac Shongwe (Chair of Council, University of the Witwatersrand). Read more: Business mogul Kuseni Dlamini to take University of Pretoria to new heights - Sunday World


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Dr Vuyane Mhlomi (South Africa-at-Large & St Edmund Hall 2014) has, with the Quro Team, secured $1.1 million in seed funding to scale Quro Medical's operations across South Africa and eventually the entire continent. Quro Medical is based in Johannesburg and leverages technology to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. Read more about Quro Medical.

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On what would have been his 61st birthday, a very moving Memorial Service was held for Shaun Johnson (South Africa-at-Large & St Catherine's, 1982) on 30 November 2020 at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. Originally scheduled to be take place in March this year, the service was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This wonderful celebration of Shaun’s exceptional life was attended by Shaun’s family and close friends; and live streamed. You can watch the whole service: Service for Shaun Johnson.

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates has included three South African doctors Prof Salim Abdool Karim and his wife Quarraisha, and Dr Kopano Mabaso (SA-at-Large & Magdalen 2010) on his heroes list. Kopano is the  founder of the Grow Great Campaign, an initiative aimed to mobilise South Africa towards a national commitment to zero stunting by 2030, and was interviewed earlier this year on Radio 702 about her work:

Profile Interview - Dr. Kopano Matlwa Mabaso

Bill Gates hails three South African doctors as heroes

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Jacko Maree honoured with a prestigious Lifetime Achiever Award

Congratulations to Jacko Maree (St Andrew’s College & Pembroke 1978), deputy chairperson of the Standard Bank Group, who was celebrated with the Lifetime Achiever Award at the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies annual awards on 12 November 2020. The award is decided by a high-profile independent panel and recognises an individual who has consistently contributed to the South African economy. Watch Jacko feature in this video (from 28 minutes 40 seconds to 38 minutes 15 seconds).

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Rhodes Scholars from across the world and across the decades joined staff and Friends of the Rhodes Trust for the first ever virtual Bon Voyage on 17 September 2020. Read the full Bon Voyage Report

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We are so proud of the nation-building work being done by Trudi Makhaya (SA-at-Large & St Anthony’s 2002), in her role as economic adviser to the South African president. Read more about Trudi's work

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Congratulations to Joshua Nott (South Africa-at-Large & St Antony's, 2017) who ran a solo-marathon in Oxford on Sunday, 14 June 2020. He completed 42,24 kms in a time of 3:43;51 and raised over R58k in support of the South African Solidarity Fund.

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GO1, an online training start-up founded at Oxford by Rhodes Scholars, Andrew Barnes (Queensland & Exeter 2014) and Melvyn Lubega (SA at Large & Lincoln 2013), has received a $62m investment boost to expand the business in Australia and South Africa. The company is based in Brisbane and Melvyn heads up the South African division. Posting on Facebook, Melvyn wriote: “Five years ago to the week, rushing between classes at Oxford, Andrew and I recorded a video and asked our Facebook friends to vote for us in a competition to win GBP 5,000 (R105,000) to bring to life an idea we had for a platform to improve how people learn….”

Read more about GO1 and the Investment

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It is deeply saddening to announce that the memorial service planned for MRF Founding Executive Director Shaun Athol Johnson on Tuesday 17 March 2020 has been postponed. The announcements by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday 15 March and the growing need to work together to curb the spread of COVID-19 necessitate this decision as a precautionary measure. We had intended to make a significant announcement at the memorial service on Tuesday, which we will share with stakeholders here.

Read More

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Congratulations to Dr Kopano Matlwa-Mabaso (SA-at-Large & Magdalen 2010), who was featured by Bill Gates in his Hero in the Field series, for her work at the Executive Director of Grow Great SA (https://www.growgreat.co.za/). Kopano leads the Grow Great campaign to fight malnutrition and stunting in South African children. Watch Bill Gates's Heroes in the Field: Dr. Kopano Matlwa Mabaso

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Justice Edwin Cameron (South Africa-at-Large & Keble, 1976)  served as a judge in South Africa for a quarter of a century and as a Constitutional Court Judge from 2008.  Hailed as an “exceptional legal scholar”, Cameron is well known for his stand on HIV/Aids; his activism for gay rights; and the “protection of the dignity and rights of the most vulnerable” in South Africa under his watch. Cameron stepped down from the judiciary in 2019 and was honoured at a special sitting of the Constitutional Court on 20 August 2019. President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Cameron as the inspecting judge of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) for a three-year term with effect from 1 January 2020.

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Congratulations to Dr Francois Bonnici (South Africa-at-Large & Brasenose 1999) on his appointment in late 2019 as the Director and Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, sister organization of the World Economic Forum.

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August 31st marks the end of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. It heralds the start of a new season, new growth, and new beginnings for a new cohort of Rhodes Scholars, eager to start their journey at Oxford University.

Read the full article here

If you have any news about yourself or another Scholar that you would like to be featured on this website, please send the details to: southernafrica.secretary@rhodestrust.com

Do you know young people who might want to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship?

Related Groups in the Rhodes community

Learn more about the work of the Rhodes Scholar Africa Forum - one of the groups in Oxford run by current Rhodes Scholars. It is dedicated to increasing awareness of social, political and economic issues, supporting small-scale community development projects, and addressing and engaging with the historical relationship between the Rhodes Scholarship and the African continent.