from an alumnus about The African Scholars' Fund
January 31, 2003
re: "Princeton in the World's Service"
PAW readers may be interested to know that the centenary of the inauguration
of Rhodes Scholarships is being celebrated right now, appropriately, in
Cape Town. Rhodes made history and money in other parts of Southern Africa,
but Cape Town has more buildings, monuments and momentos relating to his
life than any other city. To date more than 6,000 students have been recipients
of Rhodes Scholarships. When I was at Princeton it was my belief, rightly
or wrongly, that Princeton was pre-eminent in the award of Rhodes Scholarships
among American universities.
During the mid-eighties the campus indulged in a divestment campaign,
which was successful in that Princeton divested from companies associated
with South Africa. I recall a commencement photograph published in PAW
showing people flying "Divest" balloons. I thought somewhat
bitterly "was nothing sacred?" However divestment did contribute
to the demise of apartheid. Not everyone was in favor of divestment. I
mention two of our most illustrious antiapartheid fighters who were opposed
to it Archbishop Desmond Tutu and parliamentarian Mrs. Helen Suzman.
They contended that the hardship wrought by divestment was too great a
price to pay.
Be that as it may South African education, in particular, is now
at the heart of that hardship. As part of my celebration of attending
our class's 50th reunion in 2000, I distributed information to various
classmates on the plight of the large number of desperately poor African
children who are in dire need of financial assistance to enable them to
remain in high school yes, just to enable them to continue their
basic schooling. I specifically referred to a fine organization that deals
with this problem, The African Scholars' Fund, and the Fund has received
contributions from a number of classmates. I cannot say how gratifying
this has been.
The African Scholars' Fund is a primarily voluntary organization. Ninety
three cents of every rand donated goes directly to a child, and reports
back are made to donors on every sponsored child. The Fund does not solicit
and depends solely on word-of-mouth. As little as R500 ($50) is all that
is necessary to complete one year of schooling.
As part of the Rhodes Scholars Centenary celebrations the Mandela Rhodes
Foundation has been announced, and it is described as a means of bringing
Rhodes' original concept to full circle. It is really quite something
to see these great names brought together. The African Scholars' Fund
presents an opportunity to the Princeton community, "Divest"
balloon flyers, Rhodes Scholars, and all, to participate at grass-roots