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Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection

has been founded by a group of South Africans with experience in research, academia, policy-making and governance who saw the need to create a platform of engagement around strategic issues facing South Africa. It has been designed as an institute that will combine research and academic development, strategic reflection and intellectual discourse. It will apply itself to issues such as economics, sociology, history, arts and culture and the logics of natural sciences.


South Africa does not have a think-tank that devotes its attention to strategic approaches to the country’s challenges, from a long-term perspective. Most research institutes in our country focus on outcomes that lend themselves to immediate application or on critiques that deal with detail rather than long-term trajectories. Similarly, government, by its very nature, deals with issues informed in the main by the popular mandate and the outcomes of engagement among social partners, as well as the pressures of day-to-day implementation.


As a result, our country has not developed sufficient capacity for high-level and sometimes speculative intellectual engagement. The Mapungubwe Institute seeks to address this deficit.


Why Mapungubwe?

Mapungubwe is a pre-colonial Southern African Kingdom which was located in the far northern parts of South Africa, bordering present-day Botswana and Zimbabwe. The people of this ancient Kingdom had a sophisticated state and economic system which included mining, advanced artisanship and agricultural activities. They also traded with countries such as China, India and Egypt.

The story of Mapungubwe speaks to structured thought and development processes. It also contains lessons about the ebbs and flows of human civilisation. The Mapungubwe Institute has selected the golden sceptre – one of the artefacts found in Mapungubwe representing the authority and wisdom of leadership in communion with society – as its motif.

South Africa’s struggle for democracy encouraged intellectual activism at various levels of abstraction. Over the years, the country also developed areas of excellence in some natural sciences and application of technology.

The South African story fascinates humanity because it represents the confluence of successes, challenges and aspirations that relate to global human advancement and solidarity across race, social status, religion and other attributes.

The Mapungubwe Institute will be constructed on these foundations, drawing lessons from the past and contributing to charting a course towards a future of peace, prosperity and general human fulfilment in our country and the continent of Africa, and across the globe.


An institute for research and reflection on domestic and global dynamics with a bearing on the advancement of South African society


To advance South Africa’s development by addressing the complex challenges that straddle issues of nation-formation, economic growth, social equity, science and technology and positioning in a globalised world


A progressive Institute, broadly informed by the ideals of our Constitution, to:

  • develop and advance South Africa’s paradigm of thinking and reservoir of knowledge in a wide variety of disciplines
  • advance the all-round development of South African society for the attainment of an improving quality of life
  • deepen South African democracy
  • promote African development and democracy
  • advance South Africa’s global interests in pursuit of peace and equitable development
  • contribute to the mobilisation of society around a common vision

Business Philosophy

Strategic high-level interrogation of issues in an atmosphere that is free from the pressures of immediate application, considerations of sources of funding or narrow sectoral interests

Target Audience

Decision-makers in government, civil society, academia and business