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The South Africa-Washington International Program is inspiring, developing and supporting young South Africans to lead 1) social and economic transformation for social justice and nation building, 2) deepening of democracy and 3) formation of our nation.

Leadership Development

A six month leadership curriculum both in South Africa and Washington, DC,  supplemented by ongoing alumni opportunities.

Community Engagement

A core element of SAWIP, expressed through individual and team projects, both in South Africa and
Washington DC.

Professional Exposure

Real world experience provided through six week work exposure in prestigious environments in Washington, DC.

Latest Team Blog Entries

Gendered People. Gendered World.

When a child is born, doctors will assess the genitalia of the child and then assign the child to a sex category, either male or female, as soon as possible so as to allow for the gendering process to begin. Immediately after a child is assigned to a sex category, it follows that they will be named, dressed and taught to behave in a manner that the society or culture they grow up in describes as masculine or feminine. This heteronormative view means that society will interact differently with a child that has been categorized as male as opposed to a child that has been categorized as female. In turn, children begin to internalize the notion that they are inherently different and because they will have been taught different gender roles, they will behave differently. Society is structured in such a way as to allow biological differences between the sexes to determine the types of behaviours that are appropriate for men and women and ultimately, it is these biological differences that dictate men and women’s access to different resources and consequently, different lives. As a result, feelings, personality characteristics, motivations, and ambitions flow from these different life experiences so that the members of these different groups become different kinds of people who value different things. What we ordinarily take for granted is that people have to learn to be men and women. Gender is a social construct and this is good news because it means that it can be changed and re-created to suit a different time and a different place. I would like to live in a world where men... read more

Our Black and White sport

I was in a lecture hall the other day, waiting for a lesson to resume and I overheard these other students who were having a conversation about the Summer Olympics. Their discussion centred on how well the rugby team managed to perform in comparison to the male and female soccer teams. One of them averred: “The inclusion of black people for transformation reasons is killing our rugby sport…” I thought to myself : They should be suffering from either cognitive dissonance or white privilege. I am of the view that, developing our sporting codes according to race and gender is an incubator for failure. The idea of separate development between the Europeans and native Africans was long conceived and manifested through draconian racial laws like the Group Areas Act. Africans have always been made to envy the development on the white side, which was engineered through deliberate measures, while the black side was provided with paltry resources and thus restricted to develop. The intention was of course for the African to envy the ‘white life’. It manifests, subtly, today in sports where the ‘white schools’ and corporate disinvest from football development and throw their weight around rugby and other so-called ‘white sports’, so to make it a matter of ‘black sports’ performing poorly to ‘white sports’, leading to the absurd conclusion that whites perform better in sports than blacks. The contentious issue of transformation in sports is always countered by ‘it should not be based on race, but on performance’, which is of course crap, it is all about race. Or, ‘but there are no white people in football’,... read more

A letter to a Holocaust Survivor

Dear Henia, I am immensely thankful for the opportunity to have met you and to hear your indelible story first hand. I cannot help but recall the incident you shared about how your best friend went missing all day on your birthday. You were upset about this, but she returned in the evening and explained that she was working all day long to ensure that she gets you a birthday gift, which was a single slice of bread. You shared your story with searing honesty about the human injustices you and many others experienced and how that part of history has been consequential to your life’s trajectory. I was deeply moved by your instinct for survival- to have had your life made unrecognizable and to have witnessed hideous crimes against humanity, and yet you shared your truth with so much light. Your poignant account of the holocaust is telling of how despite persecution, torture and humiliation, when the power of the human spirit prevails, the heart remains unconquered. You have endured and witnessed human injustices that have left deep psychological scars, but your ability to continually thrive beyond unfading and woeful memories is a sign of your commitment to choosing life. Your sense of a life-long quest for peace and healing in the aftermath of a life altering experience, speaks of the pain of surviving a traumatic experience and is evidence of how your life has been a series of courageous acts. You told your tragic truth with utmost grace, with gentle wisdom and with pacifying humor. Thank you for your inspiring courage. Your journey made me reflect on... read more

The Hope Project: Servant Leadership

This week I did some introspection regarding the coined term “servant leadership” which every leader that is running is throwing around. I find it particularly interesting in the university space regarding student leaders. Many of the student leaders said that “they want to be servant leaders for the people who are voting for them or wanting to elect them”.   For them, and hearing their rhetoric behind what servant leadership is, it refers to serving the electorates in whatever way they can and in the most comfortable way. It refers to listening to the body which they represent. This in itself is of course what servant leadership is and this is of course what we coin servant leadership when we refer to it. Why do I find it problematic when student leaders use this coin?Let me sketch the scenario. Student leaders run for a position and represents a diverse body with different cultures and ideologies. When you say you want to be a “servant leader” in the definition coined above, you immediately refer to serving in what “demands” this body wants or not. So we know about #FeesMustFall and #EndOutsourching right? What if, the body that you represent is against and opposes outsourcing?Or that body is nonchalant about rape culture or #PatriarchyMustFall?What kind of a servant leader are you then should you support their views. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion but a mentality like being nonchalant about rape culture is in itself problematic. Are you being a leader in this instance then?This in itself is problematic for me when candidate student leaders run for office... read more

Being an Academic Athlete: Drawing Lessons from Rio 2016

  Post Washington DC, there has been nothing more inspirational than watching and reading up on the achievements that the 2016 Olympians have obtained thus far. It made me reflect of my own personal journey as a university student. I would like to share a few lessons that these Olympic Games has taught me. There isn’t always a crowd of people that will be cheering for you along the journey towards graduation. There are days where you will need to get up each morning and accomplish your daily tasks all alone – with not a single person reaching out to ask you how you are doing. It is important to understand the greater goal at hand and to remain focused on achieving it. You may not have a coach that will push you to stretch yourself and your capabilities during each practice session. Be your own coach. Gain the ability to become accountable to yourself and to your own aspirations in life. Practicing coursework in the manner in which it will be examined is highly valuable. Usain Bolt cannot expect to win a 100m sprint at the Olympics if he was jogging each day as practice and preparation. Too many a time, we as students shy away from putting ourselves under strict test conditions while studying for upcoming exams. However, it is truly one of the key methods to apply in order to achieve the optimum results come year-end. Sometimes you will be the last person who crosses the line at the end of a race. Sometimes you will cross the line in 4th position. As much as they recognize... read more


A few weeks ago I was speaking to a Zimbabwean friend of mine about the #thisflag campaign. A campaign was unintendedly started through social media by Evan Mawarire –an everyday citizen and resident pastor – who felt the pressure of the injustices he faced as a Zimbabwean, which were a direct result of a broken and unjust democratic system. Mawarire spoke out in a video, in which he describes what the Zimbabwean flag stands for and how it hasn’t lived up to its meaning. In the poem below he tells Zimbabweans to stand up and reclaim their flag, their country, their national pride and rebuild Zimbabwe to a flourishing nation. This flag, this beautiful flag They tell me that the green, the green is for the vegetation and for the crops I don’t see any crops in my country They say the yellow is for all the minerals Golide, diamonds, platinum, chrome I don’t know how much of it is left I don’t know who they sold it to and how much they got for it The red, the red they say that is the blood Is the blood that was shed to secure freedom for me and I’m so thankful for that I just don’t know  If they were here, they that shed their blood And saw the way this country is, that they would demand their blood be brought back This flag They tell me that the black, the black is for the majority People like me And yet for some reason I don’t feel like I am a part of it I look at it sometimes... read more

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