Apply for the Henley Africa Sol Plaatje media scholarship

Henley Business School Africa is inviting journalists and media practitioners to apply for its annual Sol Plaatje Scholarship. Established in 2019, the award covers all tuition costs for either the one year Post Graduate Diploma (PG Dip) or the 30-month executive Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).

The two inaugural Plaatje scholars were investigative journalist, Pauli van Wyk and Sowetan executive editor, Thabiso Thakali. Van Wyk is busy completing her MBA, while Thakali became the first double winner of the scholarship after graduating with his PG Dip, advancing to the executive MBA on the back of a second Plaatje scholarship. Other scholars include the Mail & Guardian’s head of digital, Adam Oxford, who is currently doing his MBA and current Plaatje scholar Carte Blanche journalist, Macfarlane Moleli who is busy completing his PG Dip.

Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley says the rationale for the scholarship has not dissipated, but actually become more important and more relevant than before.

“When we launched the scholarship, we did so to acknowledge the incredibly courageous work done during the Gupta leaks saga which was a critical stimulus for the establishment of the Zondo Commission into State Capture. It was clear then how journalism had played a vital role in shoring up the institutions of state that might otherwise have been fatally weakened.”

Events since then had proved once again how vital great journalism is in a sea of weaponised misinformation and fake news, not only in South Africa, but the world over.

“What’s also become clear is the need to create financially sustainable news platforms, because great journalism needs to be paid for and journalists free to investigate without let, hinder or economic pressure. This is what we hope the Sol Plaatje fellowships will create: an opportunity to give leading journalists the opportunity to take a step back, reflect and develop the necessary financial skills to establish sustainable news platforms to continue the vital service they provide.”

Sol Plaatje was a crusading journalist, social activist, linguist, playwright and novelist. He wrote Native Life in South Africa, which documented the inhumanity of the Native Land Act of 1913 and was the inaugural general secretary of the ANC. He was one of the most prominent newspaper editors of his time, founding and running three newspapers; one in Mahikeng and two in Kimberley, and by the time of his death, one of the most syndicated newspaper columnists in the country.

“Plaatje epitomises the entrepreneurial spirit always grounded in the community that Henley Business School Africa strives to infuse in our graduates. His life reflects the innovation, creativity and agility that we all need to harness to triumph over the twin challenges of pandemic and unprecedented disruption,” says Foster-Pedley.

For Moleli, the PG Dip has been life changing, literally. Last year, the award-winning journalist added another string to his bow as the CEO of a new cyber security firm.

“I can honestly say this course has changed my entire life; learning systems thinking improved me as a journalist, while the incredible journey to understand myself from a psychological perspective has helped me immeasurably in my journey as a CEO managing staff, understanding why people make the decisions they do, just as I have been able to understand the decisions I’ve made in my life.”

Moleli passed every one of his academic modules but his work life last year, staying on top of an intense news agenda while founding and leading a brand-new company, meant he was unable to complete his practical work in his syndicate.

“I didn’t want to let them or Henley down, so I asked to defer that component until this year where I can do justice to it.”

He was very grateful for Henley’s legendary flexibility and student-centric approach. “They understood and did everything they could to accommodate me.”

When he finishes, there’s only one thing he wants; the executive MBA.

“What can I say, go big or go home,” he laughs, “I want to see where that next chapter of the journey takes me.

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