Off to Oxford

Rhodes Ball 2003. Trudi Makhaya with Regina Yau (Malaysia) who went on to become a phenomenal human rights (violence against women) activist

In about two weeks’ time, I will participate in a panel discussion on the ‘State of the Nation’ with fellow Rhodes Scholars as we celebrate the incoming class of scholars who will head off to Oxford later this year. It’s been just over ten years since I was elected as a Rhodes Scholar. I can still remember the exhilaration I felt going through the Rhodes interview process. For a young girl from Hammanskraal, the opportunity to meet the esteemed panel members overshadowed my fears and insecurities.

After being elected after a final round of interviews in Cape Town, I spent about a week alone on holiday in that unfamiliar city, trying to figure out how on earth I was going to manage an even more exotic place – Oxford. I sat in cafes on Long Street, trying to anticipate every crisis that I would probably face and crafting my potential response. How to engage an Oxford don in conversation? How to deal with super-wealthy kids, Forbes-kinda rich, not the ‘Sandhurst’ neurotics I met at Wits, but the real deal? How to avoid a nervous breakdown? How to prove, once and for all, that I am super-smart? Alternatively, how to avoid confirming that I am not as smart as everyone thinks I am? I wish I had kept a diary of that week. The helplessness of knowing that your life is about to change in ways that you can’t imagine is hard to describe.

And then, on a beautiful autumn morning, as Sherry-Lee Singh and I surveyed a tranquil Woodstock Road, I realised that I was going to be fine. Oxford is a tough place. The weight of its history, rituals and expectations can bewilder even those with the most resilient self-esteem. Even so, I had a wonderful time and emerged with two post-graduate degrees, great friendships and a burning desire to engage with my country’s challenges and contribute to its development. To fight the world’s fight as John Cecil Rhodes put it in his will, is a lifelong journey, and I’m grateful for the opportunity that I was given to prepare me for it.

As for the state of the nation, I think we will know that South Africa is on the right path when many more young black girls can make that journey from little forgotten villages to watching cows grazing in Port Meadow. We will know we have come a long way when our own random villages become centres of global learning as that place which takes it name from the ford where oxen crossed the river did.

The Rhodes Scholarship class of 2013 is made up of incredible young men and women and I wish them all the best in their studies at Oxford.

Below is the statement issued by Annette Gibson, Rhodes Trust for Southern Africa:

The Rhodes Scholarships were created by the Will of Cecil John Rhodes and awarded for the first time in 1902. Each year, about 90 Rhodes Scholars are selected worldwide from countries including South Africa, the United States, Canada, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand.
In South Africa, the Scholarships are awarded to graduates from any South African province and, per Rhodes’s Will, to alumni of four high schools — Diocesan College, Rondebosch; South African College School, Newlands; Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch; and St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown.
The Rhodes Scholars-elect for the year 2013 are:
South-Africa-at-Large Scholars-Elect:
Julian De Freitas (22), son of Mr. De Freitas and Mrs. Krige, graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas School, Witbank, with 7 distinctions – four of them placing within the top 1% in South Africa (IEB Schools). In 2009, he began studying Cognitive Science at Yale University. In collaboration with labs at Yale and Harvard, he: (1) employs behavioral and neuroscientific techniques to understand how the human mind is capable of paying attention in time (perception), (2) investigates how moral intuitions shape everyday judgments (experimental philosophy), and (3) explores how psychological vulnerabilities predispose humans to undue influence (psychiatric ethics). Julian has published in academic journals, presented his work at national and international conferences, written popularly for Nature and Scientific American Mind, and is first co-authoring a book on pharmaceutical ethics through UNESCO.
Among several research fellowships and awards, Julian is also a member of the National Honor Society in Psychology. In his extra-curricular life, Julian has been a tour manager, publicity manager, and president of the Yale Alley Cats a capella group, a captain of the Yale Road Running Team, and currently he is a tour manager and singer in the internationally travelling Yale Whiffenpoofs, the oldest collegiate a capella group in the world. Julian once worked night shifts in a psychiatric ER, and writes creatively in his spare time. At Oxford he will read towards an MSc by Research in Experimental Psychology.
Heloise Greeff (22), daughter of Mrs Lettie Greeff and Mr Philip Greeff, attended DF Malan High School in Cape Town where she matriculated in 2008 with Academic Honours. In 2009, she was selected as an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellow, and was awarded Fellow of the Year in 2010. She is a member of the Golden Key Honorary Society, African Social Entrepreneurs Network and 2011 South African Brightest Young Minds Delegate. Passionate about the role of engineers in social development, Heloise is the 2012 chairperson of Engineers Without Borders-UCT assisting in creating a platform for young, socially conscious engineers. Heloise has just completed her Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Cape Town, where she has been on the Dean’s Merit list since her first year and presented her work at an international conference. Apart from her academic curiosity, Heloise was awarded Provincial Colours for Stillwater Lifesaving and Biathlon. She will read for an MSc in Biomedical Engineering at Oxford followed by an MSc in Global Health Science.
Daniel Kaliski (22), the son of Prof. Sean Kaliski and Dr. Susan Gardner, attended Herzlia High School in Cape Town before studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT) toward a BSocSc majoring in Economics and Applied Statistics (graduating with the highest grade point average among general BSocSc students in 2011) and a BSocSc(Hons) in Economics. While still in high school, Daniel was the co-founder of an organisation called the United Africa Society (UAS) which promoted awareness of the ethnic cleansing then taking place in Darfur, Sudan, and raised funds for the refugees driven into Chad by the conflict.
A keen debater, he was ranked first on the individual speaker tab at the World Schools Debating Championships held in Athens in February 2009, won the South African National Universities Debating Championships in 2011, and chaired the UCT Debating Union in 2012. At UCT, he volunteered for both the UCT branch of the Social Justice Coalition and the Township Debating League, and became the Training Director for the latter in 2011, designing training manuals for the coaches of high school debaters in the townships. In his spare time, Daniel plays the guitar and reads novels. He intends to read for an MPhil in Economics at Oxford.
Melvyn Lubega (23), son of Ugandan nationals Dr. Agnes Ikatekit-Okonera and the late Dr. Paul Sekeitto, was born and raised in Johannesburg where he was elected as Head Boy at St John’s College. In 2007, he matriculated and was placed in the IEB Top 50 matriculants in South Africa. That year he represented South Africa in Model UN Debating at the UN Headquarters in New York City and served on the Johannesburg Junior City Council. He went on to study actuarial science at the University of Cape Town, graduating with a distinction in statistics. As fierce proponent of youth representation, Melvyn has held numerous leadership roles, including Vice-President of the university’s Students’ Representative Council. Passionate about entrepreneurship, he was awarded fellowship to the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, and has been at helm of a number of start-ups. In 2010, Melvyn was selected for the South Africa Washington International Programme (SAWIP) where he worked at the Corporate Council on Africa in Washington D.C.
He continued to represent South Africa, attending the 2011 G20 Youth Summit in Paris as youth Minister of Finance. His commitment to collaboration across Africa led him to cofound a fourteen-country elected student leaders’ conference in 2011. He is currently deepening his understanding of business in Africa as an Associate in the newly opened Johannesburg office of the Boston Consulting Group. A boy scout at heart, Melvyn is at peace in the outdoors and enjoys hiking, as well as playing basketball. At Oxford, Jonathan will read for an MSc in Economics for Development followed by a Masters in Financial Economics.
Khomotso Lekhine Moshikaro (22), the son of Mrs Mamokebe Rahab Moshikaro, grew up in Mamelodi Township, Pretoria and attended Christian Brother’s College, Mount Edmund, where he was the SRC Chairperson. He later studied law at the University of Pretoria, Faculty of Law. As a law student, Khomotso participated in several Moot Court Competitions, culminating in his winning Best Oralist in the South African Round of the Phillip C Jessup Public International Law Moot Court and representing South Africa in the Final Round of the competition held in Washington DC. He was a tutor and research assistant of Jurisprudence and History of Law and also an Assistant Editor of the Pretoria Student Law Review. In 2011 he was a Judge of the Constitutional Tribunal and a member of the University’s Independent Electoral Commission which supervises campus elections. He was also the 2012 Chairperson of the Moot and Debate Society.
 Whilst at University, Khomotso was awarded an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Scholarship for his studies and also the academic awards for Constitutional Law and Legal Philosophy. In 2011 he was awarded the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary to the United Kingdom. Khomotso has also been a member of certain outreach organisations such as TUKS RAG and the Southern African Student Volunteer Organisation. In 2013 he will be a clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa for Justice Johann Van der Westhuizen and will read for an MSc in Law and Finance and later a Bachelor of Civil laws at Oxford.
KwaZulu-Natal Scholar-Elect
Kameel Premhid (22), son of Sara Bux and Rakesh Premhid, grew up in Durban and matriculated from Glenwood High School. Kameel completed his Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies and Politics, and during this time he was ranked as the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s eighth highest candidate on the 2009 provincial election list. Despite not being elected to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Legislature, Kameel continued to engage in national politics. An accomplished debater, Kameel served as the President of the South African Schools Debating Board (SASDB) from 2010 to 2012. During this time he also ranked as the second Best Speaker at the 2011 Pan African University Debating Championships, held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Kameel was a finalist in the Ismail Mahomed Law Reform Essay Competition, writing on the Superior Courts Bill. At Oxford Kameel plans to read towards a BCL (Bachelor of Civil Laws) and a MPP (Master in Public Policy).
Schools’ Scholars-Elect
Diocesan College
Chris Linegar (22), son of Prof. Anthony Linegar and Mrs Margaret Linegar, matriculated with seven distinctions from Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town. He studied Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Cape Town under a bursary from Denel Dynamics, graduating with first class honours. Chris was awarded the Peralex Prize for the best thesis project presentation at the UCT Electrical Engineering open day, and his thesis was selected to be presented at the SAIEE National Competition. Outside of his studies, Chris served as Web Editor at UCT’s Varsity Newspaper. He was extensively involved in promoting the growth of online student media at UCT and has initiated several internships in journalism and web development.
Building on his experiences tutoring Maths and Physics, Chris is currently pursuing an outreach initiative aimed at making electronic learning resources available to underprivileged school pupils across South Africa. For recreation, he is an avid photographer and enjoys mountain biking. At Oxford, Chris will read for a DPhil in Engineering Science within the field of autonomous robotics.
South African College Schools (SACS)
Vinesh Rajpaul (23), son of Drs Eleanor Steyn and Suresh Rajpaul, grew up in Cape Town. He placed second in South Africa in the 2006 national matriculation examination, and holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and applied mathematics, a first-class honours degree in applied mathematics, and a master’s degree in astrophysics (all from the University of Cape Town). He has received many awards for academic achievement and research excellence – including a scholarship for obtaining the highest marks in a bachelor’s degree at UCT – and already has a number of peer-reviewed publications to his name. Aside from his interest in exoplanetary science and applied mathematics.
Vinesh is committed to improving educational opportunities for young people in South Africa. In 2010 he established a merit scholarship for students from poor backgrounds, he has volunteered at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital since 2006, and at present he is involved in astronomy education research at UCT. In his spare time, Vinesh dabbles in art and photography (with international recognition), enjoys a number of outdoor activities, and is passionate about music and literature. Longer term, he hopes to become a leading astrophysicist and educationist. At Oxford, he will read for a DPhil in Astrophysics.
Paul Roos Gymnasium
Helen Taylor (24), the youngest daughter of Mrs. Margaret Taylor and Dr David Taylor, grew up in Stellenbosch. While attending Rhenish Girls’ High School she filled many leadership positions, including deputy head girl, and matriculated in 2006 with seven distinctions. At Stellenbosch University, Helen obtained a BA Law cum laude, majoring in English and Philosophy. As a Babette Taute English scholar, she also completed an Honours degree in English, graduating cum laude and finishing top of her class. Helen is currently a final year LLB student at Stellenbosch and is passionate about constitutional law, particularly human rights and equality law. Besides her love of language and interest in the law, Helen is an accomplished classical violinist who plays in various professional music groups in the Western Cape, but she been committed to passing on her skills to younger violinists by teaching part-time for five years. Helen has also excelled in sport, having played for the South African u/21 hockey team and Maties Ladies hockey team as well as coaching school teams. At Oxford, she will read for the Bachelor of Civil Law followed by the MPhil in Law.
Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland Scholar-Elect

Noelle Aku Ntumy (24) daughter of Mr Emmanuel Ntumy and Mrs Stephanie Ntumy is a Ghanaian by descent, but is resident in Gaborone, Botswana. She completed her IGCSE at Legae Academy with seven distinctions. She obtained a First Class Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Botswana (UB), majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry, and was awarded the Builder’s World Prize for the highest-scoring female in the Science Faculty. Noelle went on to study for an MSc in Applied Microbiology at UB, for which she is currently completing the establishment of novel methodology for the first locally produced rabies vaccine. Noelle is fervently active in research and has collaborated on yearly publications centering on bridging the gap between scientific research and indigenous knowledge. When not in the laboratory, Noelle volunteers for the Cancer Association of Botswana and the Botswana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She is also an aspiring novelist and has written a short story for publication in a local compilation. At Oxford, Noelle will study towards a DPhil in Oncology.

Source: Scholar bios – Rhodes Scholarships in Southern Africa
Rhodes Scholarships Southern Africa site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *