UCT law graduate Mary Jiyani recently became the first female Malawian recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship.
This prestigious scholarship is not the only feather in her cap since she was also awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, which she will use to pursue a master's in Private Law and Human Rights at UCT in 2016.
Among her many achievements is winning the Ionnan Scholarship for Criminal Justice, an International Bar Association bursary and a class medal. She has also made the dean's merit list in every year of her undergraduate studies.
She plans to study towards a Bachelor in Civil Law at Oxford University.
Her interest in law originated from her fascination with the relationship between law and justice. "This led me to start volunteering at the (Malawian) Ministry of Justice's legal aid division during the summer holidays and through my experience there I became convinced that I wanted to study law," explains Jiyani.
Her mother is her greatest inspiration because "she is the strongest, most driven and compassionate person I know".
Jiyani believes that a constant engagement with the Cecil John Rhodes legacy mitigates the ambiguity in being awarded a scholarship in his name.
"The protest around the statue was less about the statue itself and more about the institutional marginalisation of black people at UCT and the prevailing social inequality in this part of the world.
"The scholarship programme emphasises social responsibility. Recipients are urged to 'fight the world's fight' and indeed many Rhodes scholars, such as Bram Fischer and Edwin Cameron, have gone on to lead lives that have had a great positive impact on their societies. This is what newly elected Rhodes scholars should aspire to do too," she says.
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