• No man ever said the world could be changed magically by the wave of a magic wand. I am yet to find a man who also thinks there is a universal panacea for the world’s troubles but we all seek to do what we can in the little time we have to make an impact. Such is the subtle running theme behind the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship Fund, an absolutely brilliant idea by Dr Strive Masiyiwa (entrepreneur par-excellence) of Econet to harness equally brilliant Zimbabwean brains for the betterment of the African continent. Word has it the scholarship will spread deeper into the Sub-Saharan mainland and indeed will be a well-received development for Africa’s future.

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    Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa and wife Tsitsi Masiyiwa meet US President Barack Obama. Image by Africa Time.

    Let us take it from the top, shall we? The Joshua Nkomo Scholarship Fund (JNSF) was established in 2005, as a Scholarship Fund focused on the identification and development of academic talent in Zimbabwe. The vision of the Fund is "Provide a platform for people to fulfill their God given purpose". Students on the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship program are offered full scholarship to study from Lower Sixth to tertiary and, are equipped with intensive leadership skills and career guidance. The Scholarship recipients are branded Joshualites. The main objective of JNSF is to develop a cadre of highly responsive leader who will impact various communities and individuals within them by engaging them in various community development activities. Ultimately, the expectation is to create community value through the generation of a critical mass of highly engaged leaders who will occupy various key strategic positions from which they can drive responsible change in communities and society.

    Gone are the days of book-worms manufactured to cram up scholastic quotes yet they are detached from the world and its current needs. Dr Strive made sure that he effectively started an ongoing mentorship to not only develop the mental faculties of Africans but to awaken them to the realities of the world, not trap them in some make believe perfect environment that revolves around them. Such has been achieved through the different community engagements the Joshualites (as the beneficiaries of the Scholarship are called) partake in.

    According to the Fund’s website they “envision Joshualites continuing to spread the values underpinning all their community engagements till the spirit of social volunteerism has caught on throughout Zimbabwe. In this way the burden of community engagement can be shared equitably by more and more elements within the communities themselves whilst other corporates can also do their bit by emulating Econet as an exemplary corporate citizen.”

    As of necessity, “All Joshualites are required, as part of their scholarship terms and conditions, to give of their time towards community building activities. So far Joshualites have been involved in schools' visits where they give motivational presentations and career guidance. They also regularly visit orphanages, do clean-up operations, fund-raising, public health awareness, anti-child abuse and anti-substance abuse campaigns.”

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    Participating in community building activities. Image by Higher Life Foundation

    With over 977 beneficiaries thus far and a vision to spread the wave of change through-out Africa, one can only imagine the transformation the continent is about to witness. Yes, academic intelligence is a prerequisite for acceptance but the Fund appreciates that not everything revolves around the books and scholarly articles; there is need to raise engaged and responsive leaders in Africa so as to effect positive socio-economic change. The Joshua Nkomo appreciates that, “Clearly, these acts of social volunteerism the Joshualites are undertaking are but a drop in the ocean. Severe social injustices still remain rooted in our communities, but for the Joshualites a beginning has been made.”

    You can find more information on the Scholarship and eligibility here. Currently open for Zimbabweans willing to study in Zimbabwe only.