Obituary: Shaun Johnson (South Africa-at-Large & St Catherine's 1982)

Obituary: Shaun Johnson (South Africa-at-Large & St Catherine's 1982)

Shaun Johnson (far right) at the Alumni Event for Bob & Dawn Wyllie, 12 February 2020

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.

Introducing the Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarships

The Leverhulme Trust, a long standing and most valuable partner to The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, has made a generous gesture to honour the legacy of our Founding Executive Director. The Board of the Leverhulme Trust has decided to rename the Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships to the Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarships. The scholarships will be known as such from the 23rd of March, when applications for the 2020 intake open. The Scholarships are available exclusively to our Alumni, and offer fully-funded PhD study in the United Kingdom. Two scholarships are available each year, making it a very competitive offering for our Alumni. Shaun was tremendously excited to announce the partnership with the Leverhulme Trust in 2016 on this initiative, and he delighted in the process of selecting alumni for the opportunity.

“The Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships, now to be known as the Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarships, are one of the many results of Shaun’s talent for seeing opportunities and connections that could be harnessed to the benefit of the collective. This profound gesture by the Leverhulme Trust is a moving way to memorialise Shaun’s legacy, which we plan to take forward with as much determination, clarity of vision and impact as he did,” said MRF CEO Judy Sikuza.

While it is deeply regretful that the memorial for Shaun cannot proceed under the current circumstances, we are encouraged by this gesture which contributes significantly to commemorating Shaun’s life and work.

If you would like to share this announcement, it is available online here.

It is our hope that we may all rise to meet the current challenges with clarity, caution, and above all, humanity. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to those who had made special arrangements to travel, and we wish all of our stakeholders safety and wellbeing during this time.

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation

SAARS joins the Warden of Rhodes House and Rhodes Scholars across the globe, in writing to express our deepest sympathies to The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, the family (Stefania and Luna) and friends of the late Shaun Johnson (South Africa-At-Large & St Catherine’s 1982). The Warden wrote as follows:

Written tributes to Shaun can be sent directly to