was taught ukuthi Ubuntu is the daily practice of making space for people and the community. Space within ourselves and in the world around us. Making space for humanity to thrive is a restoration of how things should be.




St John's College

Mbongeni Allan Magubane is deputy headmaster for transformation and community engagement at St John’s College. Since arriving at the elite school as a leader in 2018, he has lived up to the tall order. He regularly serves as an advocate for changing old ways of thinking in South Africa’s academic community, working to make institutions more inclusive, responsive and caring. In the matter of the alleged racial slur uttered during a hockey game between Michaelhouse and St. John’s in 2022, Mbongeni was an instrumental part of a St. John’s that ensured that accountability was the order of the day. Mbongeni’s philosophy stems from the understanding that culture determines what we allow or preclude in society and that to make the world better for the marginalised, “those with decision-making power have to use that power to make the world as small as possible for racists, sexists and all bigots”. Mbongeni is responsible to the Head for the development of a schoolwide strategic plan, practices, policies, programmes and materials that create a culture that embraces diversity, equity and belonging. The role is the central driver of the transformation journey and oversees all the schools within St John’s College. Mbongeni is a member of the campus senior management team and executive.

  • Rhodes University, Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy, Politics and Law) 
  • Post Graduate Diploma International Studies

  • First full-time head of Transformation in an independent boys’ school. 
  • Founding member of the South African Transformation of Independent Schools Association
  • Member of the national executive

I grew up in a KwaZulu Natal wrought by civil war in the early to mid 1990s. One night, people tried to burn the house down whilst my family and I were asleep inside. The next day my dad sat me down explaining what had happened and why. He stressed ukuthi humanity must be protected and enhanced. His parting message to me. “Do good, be good. Do better, be better Mbongeni.”

Easy does it Mbongeni. Be kind to yourself, it’ll help you be authentically kind to others. The small disciplines are bricks to the larger dream, keep at them. Keep reading. Don’t take life too seriously – cherish love and laughter.

Within a deep restorative program, looking at sophisticated solutions to land and economic reform. A South Africa that has “conscripted” many of its youth into a larger social and economic development programme. A South Africa where the vulnerable are safer. I would like all schools to have functioning sanitation. A higher success rate per year between grade 1 intake and matric output. South Africa possibly navigating the end of its first coalition government. I would like South Africa to take itself, its future, and its people, it is healing seriously.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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