Xichavo Alecia Ndlovu

Political studies lecturer, University of Cape Town

Having come from an under-resourced school, Alecia Ndlovu was not the strongest student during her under-graduate years at University of the Witwatersrand. Determination, hard work and a passion for learning changed that around, and today she is considered the up-and-coming academic on comparative and international political economy in South Africa.

Just 28, she lectures political studies at UCT while studying a PhD in international relations, focusing on the effects of political institutions and party systems on the inclusiveness and sustainability of development in resource-rich African countries, specifically Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.

Ndlovu’s research studies issues that are critical to the political and economic development of African nations, and says she considers it a privilege to be in a position where she can conduct and present data that has potential to influence and direct policy decisions.

Ndlovu attributes much of her success to good mentorship.

“Those who mentored me during my journey as a student played an important role, and I’m inspired by the possibility that I too can have a similar impact on the lives of my students. A key role in cultivating curious minds is to challenge self-doubt and encourage boldness in questioning the status quo,” says Ndlovu.

This dynamo admits her greatest career challenge is being a young, black, female academic, constantly having to deal with the possibility of being second-guessed and undermined.
“That, together with finding a balance between my research, writing my PhD thesis, teaching and looking after my two siblings, is what keeps me challenged.”

Despite a firm belief in the notion of character over accolades, Ndlovu has already achieved so much. She has won numerous awards, including a Carnegie Global Change Award and being named a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa research fellow. She has an MA (cum laude) in international relations from the University of the Witwatersrand, for which she won the School of Social Science Research Award, the Feroza Adams Award and a University Council Scholarship.

— Linda Doke

Twitter: @AleciaNdlovu