Letter: Cape to Cairo scholarships

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The Independent Online
Sir: The significance for the US of Rhodes scholarships is frequently emphasised by commentators reporting on President Clinton's new government. Other observers in recent years have dwelt on the reciprocal importance for Britain of this Anglo-American bond throughout the 20th century.

But since very few reporters mention the African origins of Cecil Rhodes' great wealth, his deep personal involvement in that continent, and his genuine, though sometimes controversial, policies for African education and advancement, I trust that I might do so in the context of Anglo-American co-operation.

There is today a fresh generation of African leaders, many educated in Britain and America, who are eager to apply lessons learnt during the past three turbulent decades of 'decolonisation'. World peace and security in the 21st century could depend on their success.

A century on from Rhodes' premiership of Britain's Cape colony, the penetration of his British South Africa Company into what became the Rhodesias, and his imaginative idea of a Cape to Cairo rail-link, it is high time for Britain and the USin partnership to develop a system of select leadership scholarships for Africans of a standing comparable to the Rhodes scholarships. Cape to Cairo scholarships, in fact.

With colleagues in the Africa Educational Trust, founded in 1958, I, as a founding Oxford trustee, and present chairman, and former Rhodes professor of race relations, have been searching for a new category of scholarships tenable at those American and British universities that are willing to co-operate. It is a challenging exercise.

Such leadership scholarships could form the core of wider 'North Atlantic' awards, bearing in mind enlightened Canadian and European initiatives in education. Experience allows no doubt as to the enduring value of two years' shared tuition, discussion and companionship in well-equipped universities, colleges and research centres.

Yours truly,

KENNETH KIRKWOOD

St Antony's College

Oxford

28 March

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