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Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship



(South Africa-at-Large & St Catherine's 1982) (30 November 1959 - 24 February 2020)

Shaun Johnson was a true inspiration to many generations of Rhodes Scholars and had played such a pivotal role in establishing the Rhodes Trust's very first partnership organisation, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation. He served as the Founding Executive Director from 2003 until 2019. Shaun was an influential author and journalist, his own story intertwined with that of South Africa's transition to democracy and his great friendship with Nelson Mandela. His first novel The Native Commissioner won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa. Shaun always had time for the Rhodes community - whether through formal roles such as serving as Chairman of the Rhodes Scholarships Southern Africa Advisory Committee or informally helping countless Scholars.

Shaun died of natural causes in the early hours of the morning at his home in Cape Town, at the age of 60. He leaves behind his wife Stefania Johnson and daughter Luna Johnson.  The Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s CEO Judy Sikuza, who worked closely with Shaun, said: “What Shaun has built in the name of Madiba and for the benefit of the African people will reverberate through the ages. But beyond that, it was his generosity of spirit, humanity and genuine faith in creating a better world through our Scholars that will remain in our hearts. Thank you for your love and belief in us as Mandela Rhodes Scholars, and specifically for your personal guidance and mentorship to me during the many years we worked together. Hamba kahle my brother. May your soul rest in peace.” Written tributes to Shaun can be sent directly to