The goal of the African Leadership Institute (AFLI) is to nurture and enhance leadership capability across Africa, with particular focus on Africa’s most promising young leaders. AFLI’s aim is to create a network of high potential young Africans who have attended our programmes, and who are expected to rise to top leadership positions in their sphere of activity over the next 5-20 years and be actively engaged in contributing to positive change on the continent. AFLI will provide leadership learning activities that enhance their experiences, insights, tools and confidence, and provide a support network that will better enable them to become drivers of the transformation of Africa.

In January 2013, the 2012 Archbishop Tutu Fellows and the Leadership Programme were the subject of a 4-hour documentary series entitled Tutu’s Children shown on Al Jazeera English TV Channel. Extracts from this fascinating documentary can be seen on a special Tutu’s Children page on the Al Jazeera website, which gives the viewer a glimpse of the intensity of leadership learning derived by the participants of the Fellowship, and the exceptional people who are selected as Fellows.

It is an amazing programme, as attested by previous Fellows.

Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship

The flagship programme of the Institute is the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship Programme (ATLP), whereby each year around 25 high-potential individuals from across Africa are awarded the prestigious Archbishop Tutu Fellowship, following a rigorous competitive selection process. The Awards are aimed at the cream of the continent’s future leaders, as indicated by the demanding selection criteria below, specifically targeting the next generation of Africa’s leaders in all sectors of society, between the ages of 30 and 42.

The ATLP is a multi-faceted leadership learning experience, whose focus is African leadership in a Global context. It is a 5-month part-time programme run in partnership with Oxford University’s Said Business School. The world class faculty and guest speakers are drawn from both Africa and outside, and the programme incorporates modules in Africa and at Oxford, reflecting the African/Global duality of the leadership that will be required of future African leaders. Over the thirteen years since its inception the ATLP has established itself as arguably the foremost leadership programme designed specifically for high potential African leaders in the 30-40 age range. Note that this year, due to the impact of COVID on the programme, the qualifying age is 42.

The ATLP involves two nine-day workshops, the first in South Africa provisionally scheduled for April 25th to May 2nd, 2022, while the second will be held at Oxford University and in London from 5th to 15th September 2022. Tasks are also assigned to be completed between the two workshops – with proper planning these can be comfortably accomplished outside normal work hours. The candidate’s costs on the programme – accommodation, tuition, subsistence, etc. - will be covered by the Fellowship. The ATLP has been designed specifically for Africans in consultation with Oxford and our African faculty and advisors, and incorporates a combination of theory, sharing the experiences of successful leaders, experiential learning, varied practical applications and assignments, conducted in an Oxford style tutorial environment. A balance is maintained in the various sessions between personal development & self-reflection, the African context of leadership, values and ethics of leadership – the hard and the soft elements of leadership. An integral part of the ATLP is that the participants will be required to apply their learning to a “community project”, and in so doing extend the benefit of their learning to the broader community. Emphasis is placed on peer interaction and feedback, as well as tutorial style internalisation of the learning. The Fellows place a great deal of value on being able to share pan-African experiences and becoming a member of an exclusive network of close to 400 Tutu Fellows which is established across the continent.

At the end of the programme, successful participants will graduate as Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellows (“Tutu Fellows”) and will be admitted into the AFLI network where Fellows can interact, engage in dialogue on leadership and strategic issues, and organise meetings and civic engagements. With the help of our sponsoring corporations, the network is planned to become a platform to challenge, encourage, and support Fellows to become active leaders in society.

The ATLP provides participants with an intensive learning and broadening experience on the principles and application of leadership, and an opportunity to explore the issues and specific characteristics of leadership in Africa, as well as the global challenges and dimensions of leadership. The programme places emphasis on learning and experiencing, not teaching, offering a variety of formal and informal learning opportunities to enhance the leadership capabilities of the candidate. At the end of the ATLP, the Fellow will have achieved:

  • A self-formed view of leadership principles and values that are most appropriate to the future African/global context and his/her own circumstances, which will be the model he/she will apply to his/her own leadership endeavours
  • Membership of an elite network of leaders throughout Africa and beyond, committed to leading change and development on the continent.
  • A breadth and depth of understanding of leadership, built upon academic research as well as the practical experiences of successful leaders, and the complexity of demands on leaders.
  • A broader understanding of how leadership functions in the global arena, and the complexity of issues facing global leaders.
  • A global perspective on the challenges and application of leadership within an African context, and confidence in the role he/she can play as a leader in both Africa and the global arena
  • Practical experience of leading a project through which he/she will have enhanced the capabilities or circumstances of at least 25 fellow Africans.
  • Interaction with African and global leaders
  • A breadth of understanding of the regional and global forces and issues that will influence the decisions and behaviours of future leaders in Africa.
  • A broad, systemic, strategic and visionary approach to addressing leadership issues
  • Practical experience and feedback from working as part of a team of high calibre individuals
  • A better understanding of his/her own strengths and weaknesses as a future African leader in a global environment, and an enhanced self-awareness of his/her leadership capabilities and style
  • He/she will be a more confident and wiser leader, with experiences, tools and insights that will enable him/her to “play” in both the African and global arenas in the 21st Century.

Intensity of Programme

The Tutu Fellowship Programme is very demanding, involving long hours of intensive formal and informal activities during the two workshops, as well as commitment of your spare time to complete the three tasks required to be undertaken between the Mont Fleur workshop and the Oxford workshop. Successful candidates will have demonstrated they have the potential to become top level leaders. The demand on leaders at that top level, both from a time perspective as well as emotionally, is exceptionally high. We expect candidates to be able to work at this high level of intensity and pressure, and to commit to doing so during the workshops.

Comments from Previous Fellows

Some comments from the previous Fellows in their feedback at the end of the Programme:

  • “This has been a truly life changing experience”
  •  “It gave me the most extraordinary opportunity to meet Africans who inspired me now and will for many years to come and to be exposed to thinking and learning that made fireworks go off in my brain.”
  •  “This has made me rethink my role as a leader, and I will be taking time out to refocus my efforts”
  •  “It has been a life changing experience. Spending time with successful fellows from the continent and from different professional backgrounds has given me perspectives on leadership and African challenges I would never have had otherwise. The faculty has been exceptional, and most leadership programmes do not bring together such a diverse and top-class group of speakers into one programme as this programme has done.”
  •  “Quite simply, the program has been one of extraordinary impact for me that is certain to enhance both my leadership (and career) trajectory and considerably increase the space upon which I execute my leadership mandate. “
  •  “I do not look at Africa and its people, the same way I used to anymore. My allegiance to the continent has increased multifold; and I have high hopes for Africa and its people and its future. I now know that there is indeed a space for me to play a role in changing the lives of my fellow Africans. I have been inspired more than I could have imagined.”
  •  “It has been a wonderful journey of self-discovery, learning, inspiration, motivation and interaction. I am a different person, and my path forward has been greatly influenced by what this course has made me think about.”
  •  “I have attended several institutions of learning and worked in a few places around the world. I have never before been with a group like the Desmond Tutu Fellows – who are purely selected on merit and their commitment to positive change actualised by them becoming good leaders in a wide range of fields throughout Africa.”
  •  “The program has made me feel that I have a responsibility. It’s made me realize that my leadership is null and void if it doesn’t affect and touch the people around me. The whole program made me conscious about the issues that our continent has, and it made me start asking myself – about how and what can I do to make a small difference. A question I had never thought of asking before. It used to be all about me and my success but the whole dynamics have changed now, it’s now all about who else can benefit from what I am doing – within my community, industry, church and the continent.”
  •  “I spent last week at (a brains trust meeting of SA’s top business leaders). Other participants included very senior people in SA business and civil society. It was facilitated by the best, and had the best minds contributing. And it couldn’t touch my AFLI experience in any way! Somehow you have achieved an excellent mix of providing direction but leaving enough space for participants to wander; you have mixed lecture with participation; and – so importantly – you created a forum where everyone can contribute. “
  •  “A great strength of the programme is its ability to attract the most senior, in terms of occupation, young persons from different parts of Africa and from different fields”
  •  “I had thought that issues on leadership were meant for the politically inclined, but this program taught me why we are all leaders in our own spheres, how to prepare for leadership, what leaders must know and how to avoid the usual pitfalls.”
  •  “It was an honour and a privilege. The quality of the experiences, and the people we met were exceptional and the programme gave me many opportunities to reflect on my own leadership styles and growth as an individual. I have grown enormously as a result.”
  •  “The programme is inspiring and life changing. I have been taken to a higher level of touching lives and changing people positively”
  •  “I learned on the programme more than I could ever have been taught by any group of lecturers – the presenters on the programme were facilitators who provided the oxygen for the experiential aspect of the programme. I learned how to step back and take a “Napoleon glance” at my own leadership and followership style, as well as those of my colleagues, in a productive way.”
  •  “A powerful experience which made me think of life differently, especially given the fact that it afforded me the opportunity to interact with people beyond my borders, it was an eye opener – an experience which kind of said do not let your potential get to your head but rather harness it for the betterment of the broader society.”
  •  “The impacts of the two workshops have been profound in the areas of self-assessment and critical evaluation of continent-wide issues and how complicated and dependent on collective ideologies solutions are”
  •  “The program is mind-set changing in terms of inspiring me into knowing that I can make a significant impact on Africa through my leadership”
  •  “The best thing about the programme is that it was not just focusing on developing me as a leader in my current organisation or chosen career, but it was focused on building enhancing me as a person to be a more effective leader in all facets of my life, including my role in the community, which is often neglected.”
  •  “I have attended a lot of professional training programmes and I think that the ATL fellowship programme will have the biggest impact on my career moving forward.”
  •  “It is simply a life-changing programme as trite as that may sound! It is a unique opportunity to self-introspect and get to know oneself through a series of well-designed experiential learning sessions. Each session, like an onion layer being peeled, reveals yet another dimension until one gets to one’s core.”
  •  “What the Archbishop Tutu Fellowship Programme does to you is to pull you out of your comfort zone. Used to being the person pushing against the barriers of prejudice and cowardice in your own world, here you find yourself amid the most radical agents of African change, and for 6 months you must challenge yourself to move in sync with the tempestuous rhythm of progressive action represented by this avant garde. Nothing in my experience compares.”



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