Erik de Ridder and Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh participated in SAWIP in 2011, during which time they built on a solid personal and professional relationship which had evolved during their time serving on University of Cape Town Students’ Representative Council. While on the SRC, Sizwe, Erik and the SRC 2010 team founded the African Student Leaders’ Summit which featured former President Thabo Mbeki. It was then that the two decided, together, to apply to SAWIP so as to broaden and internationalise their horizons, deepen their friendship and learn how to enhance their impact in the world. In the end, SAWIP did just that: the intense six-month programme, with its high-level consultative, grass roots impact-orientated and narrative-focused approach, helped them learn the ropes of collaborative concept development.

In the basement of their host family’s home in Washington DC, Sizwe and Erik discussed politics, democracy, South African history – all the time innovating their approach to problems – and, building on the high level interactions with leaders across the spectrum, they became inspired, as ordinary individuals in a much larger African diaspora, to do something extraordinary when they returned to South Africa.

In partnership with members of the SAWIP management team, Vivek Ramsaroop and Melvyn Lubega, and some members of their class, including Matthew de la Hey, Dinika Govender, Dempers Meyer, Abednigo Zwane, and in consultation with many of the high profile South Africans they encountered in the diplomatic corps, business and other institutions, the InkuluFreeHeid initiative found its organizational beginnings and convened its first meeting in August 2011.

The SAWIP programme has led them to engage the full extent of their privilege, their race and identity, evaluate their contrasting histories and competencies, consider their ambitions, as well as conceive the potential of an interconnected future narrative as two individuals from completely different walks of life in Africa wanting to make a difference.

They acknowledge the continued support and ongoing relationship with their US host family, and the SAWIP network in South Africa, as being highly valued and appreciated.

Please click here to download the Release memo 22 Feb 2013.