Canon Collins Trust Annual Review The Difference you made in 2022


It is with great pleasure and gratitude that I present the Annual Review of the Canon Collins Trust, our new (and shortened) name since mid-2022. We continue to honour the work and legacy of the Legal Assistance Trust through our partnerships with the Legal Resources Centre, Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre.

As Chairperson, I am incredibly proud of the work that our organisation has accomplished over the past year. The Trust remains committed to our mission of promoting social justice and equality through education and leadership development.

We continued to support talented individuals from marginalised backgrounds to achieve their academic goals and become leaders in their communities. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners, we were able to award scholarships to a diverse range of students from across southern Africa. This year we received nearly 1000 applications and awarded 57 new scholarships. We also continue to support our students facing hardship following the pandemic.

In June, we were delighted to engage our community in person at our 40th anniversary celebration at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. We were honoured to have as co-hosts the Ros Moger/Terry Furlong support group who have been fundraising for the Trust for 20 years and have funded over 100 scholarships.

Beneficiaries of our scholarships spoke about the difference the scholarship had made to their lives. We were also joined by John Collins’ son, Sir Andrew Collins, who shared personal reflections on his father’s life.

I am pleased to share that a generous legacy from Ruth Ballin’s Estate has been gifted to our partners Equal Education and the Legal Resources Centre to enable them to continue their meaningful work in society.

The success of our work would not be possible without the support of our community. Whether through financial contributions, volunteering, or simply spreading the word about our work, your support has helped us make a positive impact in the lives of many individuals.

As we look towards the future, we are more committed than ever to our efforts to create a more equitable and just world. We believe that education and leadership development are powerful tools for achieving this goal, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that everyone has access to these opportunities.

Thank you again for your ongoing support. We have included a lot of video clips in this Annual Review. As you read it, please look out for the links and prompts to play the videos, giving you a much richer experience of our scholars’ lives.

Marjorie Ngwenya, Chairperson, Canon Collins Trust

Looking back over the eight years I have been privileged to lead the Canon Collins Trust, 2022 was a monumental one. The easing of Covid restrictions marked something of a return to normality for the Trust’s 130 scholars, many of whom had been forced to endure online learning and disrupted studies in the previous two years. So it is hardly surprising that we had to offer many more extensions to scholarships than we normally do, and support a number of scholars struggling with mental health issues.

We were, thankfully, able to stage our first Scholars’ Conference since 2019. This felt like a watershed occasion. For our scholars, the excitement at being able to connect with likeminded students was palpable. Social justice activist Dr Kumi Naidoo was the keynote speaker, who had also been a beneficiary of the Canon Collins Trust many years before – in the days when much smaller awards were made.

Kumi had received the princely sum of £250 to help him submit his PhD thesis in Oxford. Fundraising continues to be a challenge for the Trust, especially in South Africa. The Trust depends heavily on gifts in supporters’ Wills (one in three scholarships are funded in this way) and income for the year 2022 was boosted by the recovery of 92% of a legacy stolen by the executor administering the Will.

Now safely banked, the funds will enable us to work closely with the Legal Resources Centre and Equal Education in South Africa over the next few years, supporting vulnerable communities and the campaign for better schools.

The impact of any legacy is always huge. And did you know that you can also commemorate a loved one during your lifetime? We can, for example set up a named scholarship in memory of someone who has passed, and operate this for as many years as the money lasts.

Returning to where I started, it has been a huge privilege to steer the Trust through some choppy waters in recent times, and I have been helped enormously by the extremely hard-working staff who should receive the credit. Their dedication never ceases to amaze me. While it will be sad to hand over the baton to someone else in September 2023 when I retire, this is mitigated by knowing the new Director, Ivor Baatjes, will be as well supported as I have been, for which I say ‘thank you’ to you all.

Stuart Craig, CEO, Canon Collins Trust

Highlights of 2022 - in brief

The peace-making dreams of a tea picker

Dr Edknowledge Mandikwaza

“My humble background never guaranteed access to higher education. From being a tea picker, working for school fees at a tender age, and finding my way to the completion of my PhD, with Canon Collins taking me to the finishing line, I am extremely grateful. Here is a long dream achieved. I am extremely grateful for the warm treatment throughout my scholarship period. May you keep supporting the current and new scholars with a kind heart as you did to me and others. I know no one can describe or compensate enough your dedication to the deserving!”

From left:

Fambasayi Rongedzayi (PhD Law, University of the North West) was appointed MD of Play Africa and spoke at TEDXJoburg in September about the importance of play in helping children learn to comprehend complex subjects like the energy and climate crisis. He argues that climate change solutions begin with teaching early childhood science and inter-generational dialogue.

Tendai Mikioni (LLB, University of Fort Hare) studying law at the University of Fort Hare, won the Best Orator Award in the Public Interest Law Moot Competition at the South African Constitutional Court. “This award solidifies my beliefs and inspires me to work even harder – Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.”

Darlington Tshuma (PhD Peacemaking, Durban University of Technology) “Some 4 or 5 years ago, l set myself up for a challenge whose outcome could have gone either way. Two years into this challenge, the world was upended by a pandemic that transformed society in profound and unimaginable ways. It took a huge mental toll on me but I had a solid support base who made the mission less excruciating. Special thanks to Canon Collins who graciously funded my PhD and believed in me more than I believed in myself.”

Graduates pictured here, top left to bottom right: Divine Chakombera, Tasreeq Ferreira, Tawanda Gonzi, Khutso Mashifane, Dr Edknowledge Mandikoza and Dr Darlington Tshuma, Inga Macingwane, Kolosa Ntombini, Tony Tendai Manyangadze.

Our 40th Anniversary Celebration at St Paul’s Cathedral

Our 40th Anniversary Celebration at St Paul’s Cathedral

The Covid-19 pandemic having subsided, we were finally able to celebrate our 40th Anniversary, a year later than the official date in association with the Ros Moger Terry Furlong Group (RMTF) and Brand South Africa. In the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, two hundred of our supporters gathered to hear about the impact that Canon Collins scholarships have made on the lives of some of our scholars. Our guests also heard a fascinating account of growing up in the Collins household, from Canon John’s son Sir Andrew Collins who graciously served as Patron of our 40th year. The audience was lastly treated to a special singing performance from South African baritone Njabulo Mdlala and two of his operatic students.

“Being a Canon Collins scholar brings a lot of social capital that many of my peers still battle to attain.”

From Alumna, Kgadi Mathabathe's speech

“Sadly there have been some serious problems in southern African states created by corrupt practices; though many resulting also from global difficulties, in particular, the pandemic. The Trust is very much still needed. I know that my father would be delighted with what has been and is continuing to be delivered by the Trust.”

From Sir Andrew Collins’ talk at the Canon Collins Anniversary Celebration

Annual Scholars' Conference 2022

Igniting Connections for Social Justice

The network of Canon Collins Trust scholars and alumni each work in their respective spaces toward a more open and just society. This year’s conference created a space for our change makers to be fuelled and inspired for the upward climb toward justice in southern Africa.

Our approach to the event signalled a shift to more intentional and purposeful network building - one that enabled collaboration, lifelong systems of support and the sharing of values and knowledge.

Recently graduated PhD (Law) scholar, Dr Pretty Mubaiwa remarked, “there aren’t many mechanisms available when you are experiencing trouble with writing, or academic loneliness. The Conference gives many opportunities to share your research and learn from the wider academic community”. How much more so for those whose ambitions are wider than academic achievement alone, and include social justice? We gave more time in 2022 for interaction, relationship building and community celebration.

People Pathways to Global Justice

The Conference kicked off with a keynote address by Dr Kumi Naidoo, Senior Advisor for the Community Arts Network (CAN) and Special Advisor to the Green Economy Coalition. His speech was a clarion call for bold, creative and collective leadership in the face of the converging crises of bio-diversity collapse, recession, COVID-19 and climate change. Scholars were encouraged to boldness, to embrace new ways of thinking, and become leaders who value and develop bottom up approaches to the change that needs to happen.

“How do we as climate justice leaders inspire action and remain truthful and sincere about the urgency of this moment, whilst not totally demotivating, overwhelming, and ultimately paralyzing people with fear and leading to inaction?”

Dr Kumi Naidoo, Keynote Address

A Conversation with Justice Albie Sachs

We invited Justice Albie Sachs, the “activist judge” to engage our law scholar-activists. With his characteristic gentle purposefulness, Sachs explored the topic of human rights in the southern African region peppered with his remarkable store of law wisdom collected over a lifetime of human rights activism.

A Celebration of Us

Saturday evenings at our annual conferences are normally formal affairs with a gala dinner and a keynote address. This year, with network building in mind, we approached the evening differently. Scholars and alumni performed a wonderful array of poetry, music and speech. This was followed by a powerful performance from PhD (Education) scholar Msakha Mona’s band. Soon the audience joined in the singing of South Africa’s National Anthem, Nkosi Sikelel i’Afrika (God bless Africa) and other African favourites. Dance, conversation, song and a delicious meal created a sacred space for joyful celebration of our mutual belonging.

Our Scholars' Scholar 2022

Pathways Through Pain with Play

Hearts Brutalised by Poverty and Violence Mended Through Context Sensitive Drama Therapy

Nonkululeko Busika | University of the Witwatersrand, PhD | Tom Queba Memorial Fund scholarship

In South Africa, where migrants’ livelihoods, lives and limbs are all a target of xenophobic violence, children are a particularly shameful target. “Children come to class loaded with trauma,” teachers report, “self-isolating or expressing rage-filled behaviour. “ Because of this hostile environment, Nonkululeko realised it was not enough to counsel children, so she began to work with parents as well. It quickly became apparent that every parent had experiences of deep trauma that was affecting family life. Yet they struggled to respond to the models of therapy she was trained in.

With the support of the Canon Collins Trust, and using her practice as research, she is developing a therapeutic approach that understands and is adapted to African people, their culture, beliefs and language. With therapeutic support and parenting education, teachers are now seeing a significant difference in the children and their families.

“I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who have provided shoulders to stand on, and support for others to join your journey of scholarship and social change.”

The Change Makers Award

Thirteen scholars and alumni submitted their initiatives to the Change Maker Award. Alumni and Scholars voted and six projects were shortlisted. The top six projects present their initiatives at our Annual Scholars’ Conference 29-31 July 2022, where the top three winners were chosen and announced. The winners are Tawanda Matende, Kudakwashe Majonjo and Ashley Visagie.

Covid-19 And Health Related Information Blackout! The Case of People Who Are Deaf In Zimbabwe

This project collaborates with Deaf organisations and Sign language students at the University of Zimbabwe in carrying out family planning programmes and awareness programmes on killer diseases like Cancer, Malaria, Cholera and Typhoid for people with hearing impairments in different communities, clinics and hospitals. It creates dictionaries and charts with health-related information that informs doctors and nurses at Parirenyatwa group of hospitals and Harare hospital about communicating with the deaf. Watch Tawande receiving a prize for this project from the University of Zimbabwe and talking on the Zimbabwean TV News about the importance of being able to communicate with the deaf on health matters.

School Community Vermicomposting Project

The project builds vermicompost bins that collect biodegradable material from dumpsites close to food markets. The waste will be mixed with three kilograms of worms which will eat the fresh produce over three months to produce three tons of vermicompost every three months. The bins are built in schools that are located close to the food markets. Half of the compost is used in school gardens to support the vegetable gardens with organic fertilizer. The other half of the vermicompost will be sold to urban farmers in the community and be established as an income generating programme for the school. Watch a slideshow of the vermicompost bin being built.

The Student Assembly: High School Youth Leadership Initiative

The Student Assembly is an organisation of about 90 student leaders from schools located in the Metro South Education District (MSED) in Cape Town, all of which may be described as schools serving ‘workingclass’ communities. They meet to discuss school related concerns at a local level as well as broader issues of educational inequality. The award was used to host a leadership summit for student leaders who want to promote justice and dignity in schools. The initiative touched on arts-based activism (e.g. learning how to produce a podcast or poster-making); lessons on organising and mobilising and political education.

Profiling Canon Collins Scholars' Research in 2022

From Child Bride to Defender of Safe Spaces

Julieth Gudo | UCT, PhD Law | Ros Moger Terry Furlong scholarship

Growing up it was civil society organisations that nurtured, educated and protected Julieth Gudo after at the age of 11, she fled her home and her forthcoming nuptials as a child bride-to-be. Her PhD in Law seeks to promote an enabling legal environment for civil society organisations to conduct their mandate so that others like her can have the same hope that empowered her.

Provoked by South Africa’s High Crime, this Attorney Uses her Degree to Advocate for the Girl Child

Amy Leigh Payne | University of London, LLM Law

Amy Leigh Payne (pictured left with Canon Collins Alumnus Devon Turner) is an admitted Attorney of the High Court and employed at the Legal Resources Centre. She hopes to use her skills obtained through her LLM to further the rights of children in accessing Education. She tells her story in this video.

Pivoting Towards Hope

Scientist Pursues Legal Advocacy to Address Ocean Health

Liisa Shangheta | University of Cape Town, LLM Climate | Change, Sol Plaatje Education Project

Liisa Shangheta, from Okongo, Namibia, is a passionate ocean advocate and climate activist, with a M.Sc in Oceanography. She is currently pursuing an LLM in Marine and Environmental law and hopes to advocate for healthy oceans, ocean literacy and the preservation and equitable utilization of ocean resources. In this video she explains her shift from science to law.

Photo: Liisa Shangeta with environmental activist and Conference Keynote speaker Dr Kumi Naidoo

Reimagining Education

Qamani Njara | University of Cape Town, M.Ed Sociology of Education | Scholarship funded by Pegasys

Qamani Njara has a strong interest in language education, with his honours research project focusing particularly on the principles (implicitly) underlying the English language curriculum in South Africa. Qamani’s Masters’ research interest seeks to find solutions in the classroom to South Africa’s inequality gap. He is looking at how learners are taught to read and write, and how we can intervene in the classroom to improve learner outcomes.

Ensuring Dignified Art Education for All

Scott Williams | Stellenbosch University, MA Visual Studies | Funded by Sol Plaatje Education Project

During apartheid, people of colour were not allowed to study art. Artists who wanted to develop their skills had to do so through informal means. This is how Scott Williams learned his craft. Today he is interested in passing on his skills and knowledge of becoming a professional artist through informal learning opportunities to emerging artists from marginal backgrounds. Williams engages in youth facilitation in the informal sector employing Freirian methodologies, sci-fi tropes, pop culture and play based arts activities.

Ancient Techniques Lead the Path to Sustainable Sculpture

Erin Smith | Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, MA Arts | Funded by Sol Plaatje Education Project

Erin Smith is a fine artist from Gqeberha, South Africa, specialising in metal sculpture and the use of found objects. She is concerned with how art can be used to spark change, particularly in the area of sustainability about which she is very passionate.

Climate Smart Agriculture Given a Healthy Dose of Realism

Idah Mbengo | Rhodes University, PhD, Environmental Science | Rick Turner Scholarship, Funded by the Follett Trust

Idah Mbengo is a small-scale farmer from Zimbabwe who came face to face with climate change on her own farm. Today she is doing a PhD in Environmental Science to explore how to support small scale farmers successfully adopt techniques to mitigate climate change in Africa. She has encountered a few obstacles to that goal and talks about it in this podcast.

Idah’s study seeks to contribute to the debate on the uptake of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices using critical realism. CSA has been proposed as a panacea for problems experienced by small-scale farmers in the wake of climate change, but the uptake has been low. Idah explores the reasons for this and advocates for an open system and layered ontology.

Idah Mbengo

Climate Action Within South Africa’s Marine Policy

Charlotte Scott | University of Cape Town, PhD Climate Change | Funded by Sol Plaatje Educational Project

Charlotte Scott is working in the nexus of ocean and climate change and aims to use her scholarship to further activism for locally-led adaptation and climate action within South Africa’s marine policy. In this video, Charlotte connects the work of her PhD with a deep passion for the ocean and a sense of connection and responsibility to all living beings.