Leslie Mudimu is a social scientist by qualification with a strong passion for understanding complex societal issues and working towards finding solutions for these complexities. Leslie graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree with Honours. She recently graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with a Master of Arts degree in Development Studies. Leslie has a track record working with various NGOs and NPOs providing research and writing services. She is a former Andrew Mellon Scholar and is currently completing a fellowship programme with the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute which she has been affiliated with since 2020.
The programme was very eye opening to me. It allowed me to expand on my knowledge about South Africa’s context in matters of politics and governance. I thoroughly appreciated the significant emphasis made to localize the teachings on politics in particular. This is because these efforts contribute significantly to the call to decolonize our learning in such fields. This programme has put me in a position to confidently refer to South African case studies and examples which has been an appreciated contribution to my body of knowledge.
The programme taught me how to engage with people who do not share the same background or perspectives on matters. I think this is a particularly important contribution to my personal growth. Instead of constantly existing in an echo chamber with similar or palatable opinions, the programme disrupted that and showed the significance of interacting with different ideas. This will significantly impact my career moving forward.
I have managed to grow my network which now includes the other fellows from the programme. I think I am also grateful to have the ASRI Directors as part of my network now. They each possess important knowledge and I am happy I have access to them and can tap into their body of knowledge and also gain significant mentorship from them.
In addition to what I have highlighted above, I am also more aware of the various programmes and projects my fellows are a part of. I am certain this will lead to a lot of great collaborative work between us.
I think this programme will definitely influence my ability to navigate my career in a more mindful and intentional way. The ability to unpack learnings with a group of people virtually and engage has also created a trajectory for us, I think, to navigate working within the new normal (context of the covid pandemic). What I appreciate the most about being a part of this fellowship is the network it has granted me. I am certain at many points in our careers we will have opportunities to work together and being alumni of this programme will make this coming together easier. We have already experienced this in small ways during the externship placements, engaging with each other through the different organizations we have been placed with. One thing I appreciate is how the fellowship is structured. The externship component has been the most fulfilling part for me. I am grateful for the opportunity this programme granted me by connecting me with my current organization. I also believe we were adequately prepared for any issues that might arise while we are pursuing this part of the programme. In addition, the Directors have done a great job keeping the communications line open for us in the event that we face some difficulties at our host organizations. I would definitely recommend this fellowship to other people.