Humphrey Fellow alum Madai awarded 2017 Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

Humphrey Fellow (1983-84) alumni N’nyapule Madai from Tanzania was recently awarded with the 2017 Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals (DLAI). 

While at the Humphrey School, he was a Social Welfare Officer in the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, where he was involved especially with the rehabilitation of the disabled. He was also the Executive Secretary of both the National Committee for the Disabled and the National Committee of the World Assembly on Aging. Some activities of that time included undertaking a survey of rehabilitation facilities in Tanzania. He is currently officially retired but remains as an Assistant Commissioner for Social Welfare in Tanzania.

After the Fellowship year in Minnesota, Mr. Madai returned home to Tanzania and, inspired by a visit to Kennedy Foundation Headquarters in 1984, started Special Olympics Tanzania. This program, modeled after its parent organization, Special Olympics International (the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities), was adapted to serve the unique needs of its target population and respond to challenges specific to the context in Tanzania.

Mr. Madai did not just start and run Special Olympics in Tanzania; he actively advocated for the rights of people with disabilities in schools and communities at the grass-root level, and he successfully advocated for national policy change through his positions at the Ministry of Social Welfare. N’nyapule Madai has done extensive research in the field of inclusive education in Tanzania and co-authored several papers, all of which has helped to build the knowledge base about people with disabilities and hence influence policy and programming. Furthermore, Mr. Madai was a technical advisor to the UN delegation at the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Even now that he has retired, N’nyapule continues to volunteer his time and skills with Special Olympics Tanzania and consults with the government and various organizations working with disabled persons in East and Southern Africa.

Since 2003, ten Humphrey International Fellows at the University of Minnesota—from Brazil, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, India, Liberia, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Turkey, and Uganda—have been awarded the DLAI (

Mr. Madai holds a Diploma in Social Work from the National Social Welfare Institute, Dar E Salaam (1976). In 1980 he was awarded the Joseph P. Kennedy Fellowship in Mental Retardation and Public Policy, sponsored by the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation, which enabled him to study for six months at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Congratulations to Mr. Madai! His life's work has changed lives and played a key role in changing the way children with disabilities are perceived in their society and by their government. We are truly inspired by his work and can only hope to follow in his footsteps to do work that positively impacts people's lives in our community.
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