This full scholarship will allow the successful scholar to study the one-year post-graduate diploma in Business Administration in 2021 or begin the flagship 30-month long executive Master’s in Business Administration degree.

Launched in 2019 as the business school’s response to a vital industry in crisis, Henley Africa has just capped one of its inaugural scholars Thabiso Thakali, the news editor of Sowetan, who graduated in November with a PG Dip. His co-scholar meanwhile, multiple award-winning investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk is on the cusp of beginning the second year of her degree.

For Henley dean and director, Jon Foster-Pedley, the scholarship has never been more important than it currently is.

“When we launched this award, it was to recognise great journalists who are not just future leaders in their field, but potential game changers too. At the time, South Africa owed its emergence from a decade of state capture to the incredible courage and tenacity of some of its finest journalists, yet the media industry was under incredible strain because of the disruption it was experiencing.

“None of us could have foreseen the carnage that the COVID 19 pandemic would wreak on the industry, with many legacy institutions simply shutting their doors last year, further diminishing the spaces for debate and information, so important for informed opinions to allow democracy to properly function.”

One very exciting exception to the downward trend last year, he says, has been Daily Maverick’s decision to expand from a web-based news platform to a traditional weekly newspaper.

“In many ways, as the publishers themselves admitted, it’s counter-intuitive, yet by totally relooking the business model of print, they found a way to buck the trend.”

It’s precisely this kind of innovation that the Sol Plaatje scholarship wishes to encourage and nurture. For Thakali, a newly minted PGDip graduate, the experience has literally been life changing.

“The past 12 months in 2020 with Henley have been incredibly fulfilling during the profound social and economic upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic. I lead an extraordinary collaborative effort every day to produce quality content under immense time pressures and I have learnt how vital leadership frameworks and emotional intelligence models are.”

The journey for him though isn’t over, it’s only beginning: “The PGDip journey I embarked on last year was the first step in my post-graduate study. I have not only grown as an individual and as a leader professionally but I have also broadened my knowledge of the many disciplines that are critical in the development of businesses. The challenge for me now is to explore these concepts further in the next chapter of learning – the MBA.”

Henley Africa provides the greatest number of scholarships of any business school on the continent, because of the need to develop sustainability across the spectrum while infusing diversity in its virtual and physical classrooms.

“We set out to break the mould,” says Foster-Pedley; “a flourishing, sustainable, switched on and credible media is as important as a sustainable and flourishing creative arts sector. They’re both as important as the traditional corporate sector and indeed as the SME sector.

“We need to build the leaders who will build the businesses that will build Africa, whether these leaders are iconic former sports players, world class comedians, artists, musicians, community activists, journalists, entrepreneurs, engineers, financiers or corporate executives.

“When they all get together in one room, they can learn from one another, they can encourage each other – and that’s where you see the magic as we purposefully decolumnise and decolonise education to build a brand-new future.”

Sol Plaatje was a crusading journalist best known for his searing polemic, a Native Life in South Africa, which chronicled the depredations wrought by the inhuman Native Land Act of 1913. He was an activist – the first secretary general of the forerunner of today’s ANC – but he was also a newspaper editor and publisher. He founded three newspapers; one in Mahikeng and two in Kimberley, which he tried heroically to nurture and let flourish against all odds. He never stopped fighting for his people’s rights or writing though. He was a polymath; a linguist, a novelist, a polemicist, a dramatist; a very modern man ahead of his time and a very complete human being.

“Plaatje epitomises the entrepreneurial spirit always grounded in the community that Henley Business School Africa strives to infuse in our graduates and he reflects the innovation, creativity and agility that we will all need to harness if we are to emerge stronger to build back better after the ravages of the COVID 19 pandemic, speak the truths we all need to hear and build a prosperous and fair business sector” says Foster-Pedley.

If you are interested in finding out how to apply to be considered for the Sol Plaatje media scholarship, contact Vivien Spong on
• Henley Business School Africa is a leading global business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and Africa. It holds elite triple international accreditation; has the number 1 business school alumni network in the world for potential to network (Economist 2017); and is the number 1 African-accredited and -campused business school in the world for executive education (FT 2018, 2020), as well as the number 1 MBA business school in South Africa as rated by corporate SA (PMR.Africa 2018, 2019, 2020).


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