This week, the University of Leeds welcomed members of the South African High Commission & British Council as part of a celebratory event to raise awareness of the ongoing work of the Bambisanani Partnership.

Making the trip up from London, Tyrone Gunnie, the First Secretary of the South African High Commission and John Rolfe MBE of the British Council were invited to commend 15 years of partnership work between organisations in Leeds and the Kwa-Zulu Natal region of South Africa.  

Leeds has a longstanding history of solidarity with the people of South Africa, with the people of Leeds vocally supporting the anti-apartheid movement and Leeds United signing of Albert Louis Johanneson in 1961, who became the first black African to play in an FA Cup Final. The Bambisanani Partnership sees multiple education institutions across the city come together to use sport, education, and leadership to inspire and improve the lives of young people in both Leeds and South Africa through a range of ongoing initiatives. The partnership brings together St Mary’s School in Menston, the University of Leeds Sport & Physical Activity service, Leeds Trinity University, and communities in rural South Africa.  

Student speaks about their involvement in the scheme

Charlie Stevenson – University of Leeds student who was involved in the project in 2019

Speakers from a range of organisations reflected on their experiences with emphasis on the ongoing, two-way partnership and long-lasting impact of the work on young people in both Yorkshire and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Students and staff members from the charity and all three institutions spoke of their memories of working alongside South African communities, the impact on them as individuals, and the importance of the initiative in developing the skills and broadening the horizons of young people in Leeds & South Africa.  

The University of Leeds and Leeds Trinity specifically have been engaged in delivering an ongoing programme that brings

Director and founder of the Bambisanani Partnership and University of Leeds alumni talks on relationship

David Geldart – Director and founder of the Bambisanani Partnership and University of Leeds alumni

cycling, leadership and education together in the Eshowe area, through theCycling to Success and ‘Inspire through sport’ initiatives. Both of these projects were designed in response to the local need in the region to provide children with sustainable, safe mediums of travel to school, as well as leadership skills to develop their confidence and inspire them to become young leaders. Parallel to this, the University of Leeds & Leeds Trinity students are able to engage in an authentic educational experience, sharing their knowledge, whilst also learning more about Zulu culture and developing their own leadership skills.

The partnership are currently in the planning stages for the renewal of the project when the international outlook improves and will be looking to engage with partners, such as the South African Department of Education, Kwa-Zulu Natal Sport & Recreation and KZN Cycling, to understand what the local needs are and where resources stand to make the greatest impact. 

Tyrone Gunnie of the South African High Commission said:

“The Bambisanani partnership brings together a group of people who want to use the power of sport, together with their individual skills, to work in partnership with a rural community to help the children of this community realise their strengths and talents. Every project that is implemented is the brainchild of the community, endorsed by its leaders, and then implemented in partnership between the community and Bambisanani. It is the reason that year-on-year for 15 years, Bambisanani, and the community, has celebrated so many achievements, and success stories, most notably, the impact that children from Leeds and Nkandla have on each other’s lives.”

First Secretary of the South African High Commission in the UK makes speech

Tyrone Gunnie – First Secretary of the South African High Commission in the UK

John Rolfe MBE, Schools Outreach & Engagement Manager, British Council said:

‘British Council is very proud and delighted to work with so many great globally-minded educators who are the most important people in the world. We have always supported and celebrated the great conversation of humankind that connects us all globally and encourages open and equal communication and collaboration…we are proud to work with the Bambisanani Partnership.’ 

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport & Physical Activity, University of Leeds said:

‘Leeds Sport are truly honoured, thankful and proud to be an active partner in all that the Bambisanani Partnership does to improve lives for the better through sport both here through our student development and in South Africa in aiding school children to learn and develop. It was truly moving and inspirational to listen to the stories told at the event by some of the students who have taken part and in their own words ‘changed their and other lives for the better.’

You can read more about the University of Leeds role in the partnership here.