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Eusebius McKaiser

(South Africa-at-Large & St Antony's 2003) (28 February 1979 - 30 May 2023)

Words from Elizabeth Kiss, CEO & Warden of Rhodes House

On behalf of all of us at the Rhodes Trust, I am heartbroken to share that Eusebius McKaiser (South Africa-at-Large & St Antony's 2003) passed away yesterday from an apparent epileptic seizure.  He was taken from us tragically young, at the age of 45.

We all feel this loss especially keenly, as Eusebius has been serving as co-chair, along with Karen Stevenson (North Carolina & Magdalen 1979) of our Engaging Our History advisory group which is in the final stages of completing its work. 

We’ve lost an important, fiercely independent political voice – who spoke truth to power from a deeply personal and humane space.  Eusebius embraced his own vulnerabilities and encouraged us all to do the same; whilst challenging us to interrogate our biases and then sit and grapple with the discomfort we might feel. He was larger than life, and the hole he leaves will be similarly immense.

He was a prolific writer and broadcaster, well known across South Africa and beyond for his astute political commentary, grounded in his academic training as a moral philosopher.  With his incisive intellect and fearless candour, he laid bare the painful racial inequities and complex dysfunctions of his beloved country with boldness, energy and wit. His work as an LGBTQIA+ activist and educator has also left a profound mark on the gay rights landscape of South Africa.    

Combining charisma and eloquence with an enormous heart, Eusebius exemplified the Rhodes Scholarship ideals of kindness, courage and a commitment to fighting the world’s fight.   We are so grateful for his willingness to co-chair the Engaging Our History group, for the energy and dedication he brought to this important work, and for his generous spirit of service in all of the other volunteer roles he took on, from selection to mentoring to name just a few.

I extend heartfelt condolences to his partner Nduduzo, their family and friends, and to all who knew and admired Eusebius and his work.  We will forever be grateful for his leadership and friendship, and will continue to be inspired by his example.  The best tribute is to pick up where he left off – to speak truth to power, be fearless, be vulnerable, be courageous, and never stop reading and learning.