Change the world


An innovative and internationally recognised animation artist, a sports administrator with a penchant for community development and the owner of a techno hub assisting start-up entrepreneurs to flourish are among a number of former students honoured at the annual Nelson Mandela University Alumni Awards recently.

Awards recipients back from left: Russell Raath (BCom Law 1995), Stuart Forrest (BTech Fine Art 1996), Lukonga Lindunda (BSc IT 2006), Nonkululeko Ntshona (ND Building 1999) (front from left), Ifedolapo Ojo (BPharm 2005) and Mandla Gagayi (BA 2001). Dr Gaathier Mahed (PhD 2012) and Tony Wenlock (MSc 1993) received their awards in absentia.


Owner and CEO of Cape Town-based animation studio Triggerfish, Stuart Forrest; Arts graduate and sports administrator Mandla Gagayi and co-founder and Executive Director of Zambia’s BongoHive Technology and Innovation Hub Lukonga Lindunda were lauded for their contribution to society through their professional endeavours.

The prestigious awards, which are a flagship event on the Alumni Association calendar, celebrates the local and international success stories of graduates who have not just climbed the corporate ladder, but have become inspiring leaders and change agents across various parts of the world.

Alumni Relations director Paul Geswindt said while graduating was a success story in itself, some of the University’s alumni “truly excel in their disciplines and professions”.

“We are proud, as an Alma Mater, that our alumni are impacting so positively on society, both locally and globally,” he said.

The awards honour former students across two categories – the top-end Alumni Achievers and the Rising Stars actegories.

Forrest and Gagayi were among those lauded in the prestigious Alumni Achievers category, while Lindunda was recognised in the Rising Stars category.

Others honoured in the Achievers category are president of New York-based change management consultancy Kotter Inc, Russell Raath and Regional Vice-President of software company Amdocs, Tony Wenlock.

Forrest’s Triggerfish studio is best known for producing two of Africa’s most globally successful films, “Adventures in Zambezia” (2012) and “Khumba” (2013). Since then, it has won several awards for its BBC TV specials produced in collaboration with Magic Light Pictures, “Stick Man” and Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” – which has also been nominated for a British Academy Award and an International Emmy.

The studio employs 100 artists and their films have grossed over R1 billion worldwide.

Gagayi was recognised for his significant contribution to the development of sport in South Africa’s higher education sector, having headed the sports departments at two universities. He has raised the profile of university sport, while also taking sport into poor communities.

Gagayi has served on University Sport South Africa (USSA) in various capacities and continues to serve as a mentor on USSA’s Football National Executive Committee.

During the 2010 Soccer World Cup, he was appointed as Team Liaison Officer for England, and spent a month with the team at their Mafikeng base.

In 2013, he was Deputy Head of the USSA Delegation to the World Student Games in Russia. In 2015, he was appointed Head of the USSA Delegation to the World Student Games in South Korea, and filled this same role at the Confederation of University and Colleges Sports Associations (CUCSA) Games in Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2016.

Lindunda is the co-founder and Executive Director of BongoHive Technology and Innovation Hub and helps entrepreneurs and new start-ups prosper in the local ecosystem, and advance Zambia as an innovation hotbed.

He has held a string of IT positions in Zambia before venturing into BongoHive, Zambia’s first and only technology and innovation hub. BongoHive’s achievements include servicing over 400 start-ups and raising significant start-up capital; building, managing and rolling out Africa’s first digital mapping of technology and innovations hubs, and establishing business partnerships with several national and international companies, including MTN Zambia, Facebook, UNICEF and Google.

Lukonga received a Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in 2014, and is regularly invited to give talks all over the world.

Other recipients in the Rising Stars category are earth scientist and specialist scientific advisor to various companies and government, Dr Gaathier Mahed; entrepreneur and Managing Director of Nonku Ntshona & Associates Quantity Surveyors (NNAQS), Nonkululeko Ntshona and Pharmacy graduate Ifedolapo Ojo.