UJ’s Buntu Fanteso named a recipient of the 2021 Rhodes Scholarship


Buntu Fanteso is completing his Master’s in Water Scarcity. Currently, many parts of the Eastern Cape are faced with water scarcity and so his MSc research is based on unlocking alternative sources of water using traditional technologies.

Buntu has been part of Enactus since 2015, where he served as a Secretary at both campus and institutional level. He is currently involved in an enactus programme that trains students in TVET Colleges to start their own businesses. He has also judged for Eskom Expo for Young Scientists for Mthatha Region, focusing on environmental management and sustainable development projects. In 2018, he was awarded the GreenMatter Postgraduate Scholarship Programme to do a BSc Honours at UJ. Through GreenMatter, Buntu co-founded Basisani Mkhuhlu with other students, an initiative that seeks to address illegal dumping in Mkhuhlu Township.

He is currently leading the Recruitment Portfolio for Young Water Professionals-Gauteng Chapter, a professional network of people working in or interested in the water sector. He has identified the gap that exists between university students and professionals in the corporate world. His intent is to bridge this gap and connect students with young professionals in the environmental sector, for career guidance and mentorship.

Buntu hails from a village called Ngcengane, outside Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. This village is one with a high dropout rate at secondary school level. With the Rhodes Trust Scholarship, he hopes to inspire young people to continue with their studies – especially in his community,

Buntu completed a BSc in Environmental Studies at Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha in 2017. In 2018, he started a BSc Honours in Geography at UJ where he is currently completing an MSc in Environmental Management.

Says Buntu on being awarded the Rhodes Scholarship: “”I’m very excited about it. It is a dream come true. I have always wanted to study abroad but I never thought I would go to Oxford,

I am very grateful to the Rhodes Trust community for awarding me the scholarship. I would like to thank the six referees who supported me and wrote the referrals, my supervisor, Dr Andrew Craig and friends for their unwavering support and encouragement.”

The first person he called when he found out the news of winning the scholarship was his mother.

“Mum is very proud. She was proud when I moved to UJ, so you can imagine how proud she will be as I move from UJ to Oxford University.

One of the key areas that Rhodes Scholarship focuses on is leadership. I hope to use this opportunity and influence young people to be involved in positions of leadership and make positive change in the society,” says Buntu.

He plans to pursue his DPhil in Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Buntu is planning to leave for the UK in August next year. This, however, is dependent upon the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A Rhodes Scholarship is confirmed once a successful candidate has been offered a place in a department or faculty of the University of Oxford and in a college.

The Rhodes Scholarship selection committees seek young women and men of outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service. The Rhodes Scholarships support students from across the globe who demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as ‘leaders for the world’s future’.

A Rhodes Scholarship covers all University and College fees, a personal stipend and one economy class airfare to the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom at the start of the Scholarship, as well as an economy flight back to the student’s home country at the conclusion of the Scholarship.

These scholarships aim to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa.

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