Shaun Johnson, 54, is founding Chief Executive of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation in Cape Town, which is dedicated to building leadership excellence in Africa. He also served as Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
Shaun was associated with Nelson Mandela for 23 years. A renowned anti-apartheid journalist, he wrote the feasibility study for the New Nation newspaper in 1981, and was one of the early members of the Weekly Mail team (now the Mail & Guardian). He was Deputy Editor and Political Editor of the Johannesburg Star during South Africa’s transition to democracy, and went on to edit several newspapers including the Cape Argus and Saturday Star. He was founding Editor of The Sunday Independent in 1995. In 2003 he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive of Independent News & Media South Africa, the post he held prior to his current position. He is Chairman of the Rhodes Scholarships South Africa Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Council of St Cyprian’s School in Cape Town, and a member of the Board of Governors, Rhodes University. He was a long-serving member of Independent News & Media plc’s International Advisory Board, Chairman of the Cape Town Partnership, and a Trustee of various charitable organisations.
An international award-winning author, in 1994 he published Strange Days Indeed, the bestselling book on South Africa’s transition, which was introduced by Nelson Mandela. In 2007 his first novel, The Native Commissioner, published by Penguin books, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa, the MNet Literary Award, and the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Book of the Year.
Shaun spent his early years in the Transkei, a rural area of South Africa, and was later educated at Hyde Park High School in Johannesburg, Rhodes University in Grahamstown, and at the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar (South-Africa-At-Large, 1982). He won academic and sporting awards at both universities, but did not complete his doctorate. In 2004 he was awarded the Centenary Old Rhodian Award by Rhodes University.