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20/05/2016

This article appeared in The Herald of 20 May 2016, written by Devon Koen.  

A NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University student has been given an opportunity many could only wish for after being nominated for a regional leadership programme set up by US President Barack Obama.

Siboniso Dlamini, 22, a postgraduate maritime studies student at NMMU, returned this week from a regional meeting in Johannesburg following his nomination to the Regional Leadership Centre of Southern Africa (RCLSA).

It is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) programme set up by Obama in 2010, which seeks to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Dlamini said he was happy and excited at being nominated for the programme.

He is due to take part in Yali's Public Management and Governance Cohort for the next month. Dlamini, originally from Nelspruit, said: "After I applied, I was shortlisted and invited for an interview.

"At first I did not believe it. I did not even tell the people I was working with, as I didn't believe it myself," he said.

Dlamini said it was a rare opportunity to be involved in the initiative which, he said, looked at creative solutions for developing the African continent.

As deputy treasurer of the Green Campus Initiative, Dlamini said he, with his counterparts in the initiative, would discuss the next step forward in assessing ways to improve communities across the African continent.

"As a collective we look at how to develop Africa [and] how applicable and feasible our ideas are," he said.

Dlamini said he hoped, by the age of 30, to be in a managerial position, preferably in the maritime sector, "not because I want the power [but because] there are a lot of things I can do to improve the lives of others".

He said his motivation stemmed from the people he associated with. "Whatever life gives me, I must be ready and I must be prepared."

He said he wanted to motivate young people to be unique and excel at whatever they do.

The RLCSA initiative aims to develop the skills of young African leaders by providing core training in contemporary African issues, as well as specialised training in three key areas — business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and public management.