Who am I?Where am I?

06 February 2009

Gadaffi Nkosi

Dear Readers of this Blog,

I apologize in advance for the length of this blog. If you are reading this it is because you found your way to this site somehow. If you know me at all, you will appreciate what a watershed time in my life my Howard University experience was for me. Looking back on Howard, a big part of who I am today is because of my Howard experience.

Pursuant to this, you may also know that until August of 2008, I had resided in South Africa for the previous 6.5 years. I am on the board of directors for two NGOs, both of whom help kids who are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. I personally sponsor one kid in order to help him attend better schools and procure an education that will at least give them a fighting chance in the "New" South Africa .

In the summer of 2007, The Douglass Foundation, one of the NGOs I am active with, was offered one slot for one young man to attend the Kappa Kamp held at Piney Woods School in Mississippi . We choose Gadaffi Nkosi. We choose wisely. He seized the opportunity and caught the eye of Piney Woods School ’s administration, who offered him a bursary. Whilst at Piney Woods, he has done a fantastic job and is on the honor roll. He will graduate this year and Howard University is one of his top choices. At this point, he would go just about anywhere. He plans to study international relations and then return to South Africa and enter politics. I have no doubt that whatever he decides to do, he will be successful.

However, Gadaffi has no financial sponsor. He is very willing to work his way through as I did. However, this is still far short of what is needed. I personally would love to see Gadaffi at Howard University or any school in the United States that he wants to attend. I have spoken with Gadaffi and told him that at best, barring corporate sponsorship, he could expect one year of fees. He would need to work hard, earn a Trustee Scholarship based on grades, apply for an Resident Assistant job, etc., to ensure that he continued with his education.

Below you will find two letters from the Douglas Foundation. One is from Gadaffi personally. The other is one from Victor Williams, the founder and chair of the organization. We are looking for sponsorship from corporations specifically as well as private donors. Another thought I had was that if we had a slew of people donate small amounts towards a fund for Gadaffi, then we could raise enough, or at least a very significant portion, of the amount needed to cover Gadaffi's costs for one year. Contributions can be made directly to The Douglas Foundation (bank details and Pay Pal link below) and will be tax deductible if you are a US or South African citizen. I have said on numerous occasions that my money and my kids (when I have them) will go to Howard University.

Gadaffi is an amazing young man whom I am proud to know and support. Please write me back directly, or post a comment on the blog with your email address and I will contact you, if you are interested in helping Gadaffi achieve his goals and/or know somebody else who I should contact


Richard Lee Wilkin, III

Howard University
Class of 2001

P.S. You can check out the Douglas Foundation website (though it under construction) at www.douglasfoundation.org

South African students ROCK the U.S.
Special Message from our Senior at Piney Woods!

Dear Rich,

Yes, they can! What happens when talented students -- who just happen to come from disadvantaged backgrounds -- are given a chance? We can tell you: amazing things! The South African students we placed at Piney Woods School are on the Honor Roll. Just half-way through their first year at Piney Woods, Claudia and Sidwell will serve as Pages in Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran's office. Gadaffi, a Presidential Scholar, is now sending out college applications with the hope he'll win a scholarship.

Special Message from Gadaffi Nkosi:

I am Gadaffi Manqoba Nkosi; a 17 year-old student originally from Pretoria , South Africa . I grew up in a township called Mamelodi and lived with my grandmother because my mother was unemployed. I attended school with very few resources and my grandmother paid for my school fees with the money she received for pension.

When we completed primary school, most of my friends could not afford to go to high school and as a result, dropped-out so they could go work at supermarkets and construction companies. My community was poverty-stricken and crammed with negative influences stimulated by crime. Everything around me was constantly deteriorating, but the poverty I experienced kept me determined to succeed in school and also bring up my community from the stigma that has been attached to it.

After winning an essay and oratory contest sponsored by the Douglas Foundation and Kappa Alpha Psi, I received an opportunity to attend Kappa Kamp at the Piney Woods School . My impressive performance during the camp got me a TV interview and honored as the most outstanding speaker. Following a remarkable camp, I was awarded a scholarship to attend at the Piney Woods School . I am currently a senior with a 3.5 GPA. During my stay in the United States I have achieved being classified as a presidential scholar, honor-roll student, and student ambassador. I have also attended the Morehouse College Pre-freshman Summer Program where I took three college courses and successfully graduated with straight A's. In March I will be interviewed by CNN and will also be featured in the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal.Upon my graduation, I intend on going to college where I will major in political science and international relations and pursue a career in the diplomatic field. Although I have received numerous offers from colleges in the US , I still cannot afford to enroll as a student unless I receive a scholarship or grant that will help pay for my education. I am reaching out to you because I need your help regarding to this matter. If possible, I would appreciate it if you can provide me with contact details of people, organizations, scholarship programs that help unprivileged international students, or any suggestions pertaining to raising funds for college.


Gadaffi Nkosi

Be part of the solution. We need your energy and support to make a difference in the lives of South Africa 's youth. These scholars are thoroughly vetted; some of them have been accepted by Make A Difference Foundation (MAD), a dynamic and progressive South African organization providing long-term mentoring and pledges for university scholarships. These kids have proven themselves to be stars.

Your investment funds tomorrow's leaders TODAY. Please forward this email to family and friends. Consider making it a family project to sponsor one of our kids. Together we can continue changing the world, one student at a time. Want to talk more? I encourage you to email me directly at vwilliams@thedouglasfoundation.org Thanks for making a difference!
Victor Williams, President
The Douglas Foundation

TODAY is the day you can change a life. It's easy!

President Victor Williams with students from Pretoria Secondary School 's leadership club (photo taken at the U.S. Embassy, Pretoria , South Africa ).

The Douglas Foundation consists of two partner non-profit organizations, one in the U.S. and one in South Africa, that work together toward the same goal: to provide long- and short-term educational opportunities to underprivileged South African students and to encourage youth development within communities.


Yve said...

Hey Gad,

I feel you. Mhmh…you seem like an outstanding young lad. Uuuu! Am talking as though am 69 years old. Haha! Anyway, I just have some few words for you. One, there are a lot of people in the world who relate to your experience. Assume there are just about 69 million of them in Africa alone. Out of these 69 million, 39 million are sitting and waiting to be discovered, 29 million have been lucky to be discovered and have access to various opportunities, the remaining 1 million have discovered themselves and are engaging others to rediscover them. I think you belong to the last group and that population may be the least but could be statistically significant to a great extent. I’ll give you a practical example of my own country, Kenya, where we have a huge base of very well educated young boys and girls without jobs. If you have closely been monitoring international developments you’ll remember that Kenya slid into a state of brief anarchy at the beginning of last year. Now, majority of the young men who rose up to fight were these young, educated, poor but jobless people. Now, what am trying to say is that sometimes you may have the education and not the career opportunity. The world is very competitive out there and there are millions fighting for the same opportunity/ies you yearn for. But you need to separate yourself from the rest of the pack-not just now but even in future. As you apply for your scholarship, what unique and innovative ideas are you advancing that could boost your chances not just now but also in future? That’s just food for thought.

Secondly, it’s good that you already know what you want to do early in life and that’s a very good thing. Now that you have a strategic focus, everyday you wake up, you need to ask and remind yourself what you need to do to achieve that strategic goal. The one critical word and approach I have learnt in my short experience is STRATEGY. You need to have a strategy for everything and maintain a clear focus. Mhmh…am I teaching you some bad manners here? But you’ll hopefully tell me about it a few years from now. You’ll actually also come across the word in your political science class. You will definitely go to college and enjoy pursuing International Relations. I can assure you, you have made an exciting choice. You’ll be exposed to all forms of theories and philosophies and you’ll love them. However, when you come out, you will be hit by harsh realities. Now, harsh realities are not necessarily what you see on TV but what you experience as an individual and as you interact with others in the real world of ‘out there”. Haha! I can remember when I was little, or should I say littler, my teachers used to talk about “when you go out there…” and that’s a phrase I never gave much thought to (and when I did accord it some thought, “out there” seemed rather abstract). But when I finally got out there, I realized what “out there” meant and means. When your time comes you will know what it means. I come across “out there” every day. You need to identify, penetrate and curve a niche, you’ll realize that things don’t move in a straight line and that’s why I talk of strategy. You also need to maintain an open mind. I have been accused of having a methodical, structured, detailed and just recently mathematical kind of thinking (uuu I don’t like maths). Anyway, I always want to break things down and know …what if…, why…, …how about looking at it this way…, …how about plan F…, but I should say that circular thinking even though marshy and complex does indeed pay off when applied well.

Thirdly don’t be afraid to take risks (of course after weighing), good things don’t come to those who enjoy the company of their comfort zones. But of course unless you come from a family of big names. In addition, being forward thinking and contingent are just as crucial. You also need to talk to lots of people and people and expose yourself to different worldviews. You’ll be amazed at how much you will learn. The best skill you can learn in communications (or at least that I have learnt) is to listen. Listen to people, listen to your environment, listen to everything even to the voiceless ones (most of the time situations will be voiceless). Never ever forget where you are coming from… and most of all learn to have a good laugh. Whenever you can, show off your teeth…haha, believe me, its therapeutic. Enjoy the simple things in life. There is so much I would want to share but will stop here.

Mhmh…I have just checked what I have and realized its difficult coming across scholarships or grants for undergraduate studies, most are for post-graduate studies. You can just check out the following sources and see if they offer undergrad grants. These are old sources (I got them one year ago and a lot may have changed including the sites). Also check if there have been any changes in their funding policies:

- Institute of International Education – provides info about the Fulbright programme
- Rotary foundation – they have a graduate scholarship programme but just check to confirm if they have undergrad as well
- The Scholarship Foundation, inc in New York ( www.fdncenter.org/grantmaker/scholarships/)
- Deborah Partridge Wolfe International Fellowships - Available to graduate or undergraduate United States students studying abroad and/or graduate or undergraduate foreign students studying within. Awarded for full-time study for one academic year (Fall-Spring). Amount varies from $500 to $1,000 paid directly to recipient.
- www.finaid.org
- www.iefa.org
- www.srnexpress.com
- www.internationalstudent.com

Some more random ones that you can comb through include:

- http://www.civilsoc.org/fellandschol.htm
- http://www.isep.org
- http://www.soros.org
- http://www.ssrc.org
- http://www.iie.org
- http://www.aauw.org

Well Gad, I would have wanted to support you big time but am already involved in an almost similar project for another two years. Sometimes charity begins at home…then you move further. I wish I was George Soros or Warren Buffet, I would have gone full throttle. But all the same, I need you to tell me when you intend to enroll? That could help me plan ahead, after all a little goes a long way! So you can count on me.

Nom I will challenge you on one thing. Mhmh…my question is, if you intend to secure scholarships for more students in future, will your scope remain the U.S? It is absolutely important to narrow your focus in the beginning but with time, you may need to re-strategize and spread your wings. I think you should maintain an open mind since you may be locking out a wealth of opportunities. What if a potential funder came by and insisted she will not sponsor a student unless the student pursues his/her studies in China? Ghana? Egypt? Iran? Tanzania? Or even South Africa? There could even be a centre of excellence in Iraq. I may be stretching it here but think about it…as you think about what is unfolding in the world currently. I think there is beauty in diversity. An important question would therefore be, what is the added value in this? At the end of the day when these scholars finally come together they will bring a wealth of experience from different parts of the world that will in turn enrich their overall goals for their country.

Three years ago I conducted a study supported by the Ford Foundation (funds post-graduate studies) on grantmaking institutions in East Africa. During the research, it emerged that there were small trusts and foundations dotted all over the country (including Tanzania and Uganda) that declined to be interviewed, preferred to maintain a low profile and yet were very effective. This was assumed to be a strategy to limit the number of grant-seeking individuals and organizations going their way. The same may be the case in South Africa. It would be good to try and comb through some of these hidden sources of grants that normally don’t want to get to the public limelight for good reasons. But the process of getting them may not be easy. Many may not even be listed. You may also realize that some may be willing to fund students pursuing their studies locally and this is why I say you need to maintain an open mind. There were also bilateral, multilateral and embassy funds (in the same research) in the specific countries giving grants to different priority areas and were willing to engage. But some of them normally require the beneficiaries to study in their home countries. In addition the institutional donors normally require a potential beneficiary to have been accepted to a college prior to releasing funds. There is always an opportunity in everything. All you need to do is grab it. This reminds me of one of the episodes I watched on The Apprentice. The winning team was treated to an opportunity to meet Arnold Schwarzzeneger. When they asked him what they need to do to succeed the way he has right through acting into politics, he answered, “there are a lot of opportunities out there, all you need to do is be hungry”. Haha!

Ckay you are quiet. Where art thou?


ckay said...

Well Yve, Brilliant Insight. I've been busy trying my level best to "Kujenga inchi" (Building the nation) ha ha!

Rich - Sometime back, someone said to me that:

If you want to be happy for a day - Go fishing!
If you want to be happy for a week - Take a holiday!
If you want to be happy for a month - Get married
If you want to be happy for a year - Inherit a fortune
BUT if you want to be happy for a lifetime...... HELP OTHERS!

Few years down the line, i confirm. But wait! If i was to meet the tutor today & now, i'd ask him a question or two in regards to the "get married".(Maybe Yve you can shed some light here...lol.....)

O.k People of the world. Where did we go wrong?

This thread is a true indication of the so many miles we've walked through in search of what i'll call basic human rights. We all know them by heart and education is the heart of them all. uummm education ain't edible, cant sleep under it but hey! you know what i mean.

So why is education whack in Africa?

My take:
Most African public sector budgeting procedures and formats have not changed
significantly since colonial times, and they cannot cope with translating short and medium term adjustment policies into practice, population growth notwithstanding. These procedures involve the full or partial replacement of annual incremental planning and budgeting systems with approaches
which may be more appropriate to current problems. I suggest that many attempts to undertake necessary reforms have not succeeded because they have been limited to interventions in the education sector ministries without reference to government budgeting and administration systems as a whole. Reforms should also take full account of the need to strengthen a potentially beneficial relationship between the state and the private sector. With these improvements better use can be made of external assistance which has, I argue, not always served those countries which benefit from it as well as it might have.The objective of these changes is to enable countries to use their
limited resources better and avoid stop-go educational development policies in order to achieve the capability of providing an education service which is both sustainable and affordable to chaps like Gad. In this respect governments have a crucial role to play in the process of change, even if in some aspects the 'market' will succeed where government planning has failed. (I'm not very sure i'll ever have a liking for this word - GOVERNMENT!

Gad,its not our fault that we more than often find ourselves stuck in such. But keep in mind that where there's a will ...... Yes! Africa needs more pathfinders like you! I know my 10% won't take you anywhere close to your dream. But ..... yeah little by little, will take you there.

Douglas Foundation:- You're the best!