Judith Macgregor

British High Commissioner to South Africa

Part of UK in South Africa

3rd March 2015 Pretoria, South Africa

Today’s friends, tomorrow’s leaders…


Guest Blogger: Patrice Madurai

As my season at university draws to an end, I have found myself being more deliberate, more present. In South Africa I am part of the “one percent” which is by and large a minority that has had the honour and privilege of receiving tertiary education. I’ve always dreamed of being successful – of having an impressive corporate job, of living in a big house, having a fancy car, travelling to fun and exotic places. Sure, it would be wonderful but lately I’ve found myself re-evaluating this idea of success. What if success itself has nothing to do with material things? What if success is determined by our ability to bridge the gap between the “one percent” and the other “ninety-nine percent”? What if success is determined by our conscious resolve not to judge people based on their race, gender or religion, but instead to embrace these differences. Can you just imagine how different the face of South Africa, Africa and the world would look if tomorrow’s peacemakers, restorers, innovators and leaders were all friends today…

South Africa is my home, I am defined by her struggles, her victories and by her possibilities for the future. She is a young democracy that has yet to realise the magnitude of her potential. She, like me, is young and looking to make a lasting impact. There is a Christian proverb that says “Show me your friends and I will show you your future” I don’t think that there is anything more apposite to describe what it means to be a part of The Commonwealth. Not only is The Commonwealth a friendship between 53 independent and equal sovereign states, it is a promise for a future that is defined by hope. The Commonwealth is home to over 2 billion people, of which, sixty percent are under the age of thirty years old. With The Commonwealth comprising of some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries, spanning across five different regions I don’t think that it requires a great stretch of imagination to see that this friendship is a driving force towards making the world a more habitable and humane place.

Yes, the world is plagued by social injustices, scarcity and a lack of resources among various other seemingly insurmountable issues. So I understand that the question that one might beg is how will we bridge these gaps? I don’t think that there is an absolute answer but there is an answer nevertheless…image6

The world has never been more connected, through technological innovation and globalization we are now able to share ideas and engage in dialogue across constructed and natural boarders. On the 13th January 2015, I was nominated as a Queens Young Leader Winner, essentially it is an award that recognises exceptional people aged 18-29, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. It’s all quite overwhelming and whilst I’m humbled to be a recipient of the accolade, by far the greatest thing that I have received is access to a network of other like-minded, passionate young people. We speak different languages, we’re of different races, genders and religions but the glue that holds us together, and perhaps the answer to the question, is that we are all friends through The Commonwealth. We are young people who dare to dream and who believe that it is our responsibility to truly lead change in our individual countries and collectively around the world.

I am thrilled about the theme for Commonwealth Day 2015 which is aimed at recognising the capacity, contribution and potential of young people as we take up our vital role at the heart of sustainable development and democracy. Being a part of The Commonwealth means that we are called to be active members in a friendship of dynamic countries who have the power to define the future.

On Commonwealth Day, 9 March, from 10:00-11:00 (08:00-09:00GMT) I will be answering a Twitter Q&A on what it means to be a young person in the Commonwealth. Please feel free to join the discussion by following @UKinSouthAfrica and the hashtag #CommonwealthInAfrica.

About Judith Macgregor

Judith Macgregor has been appointed British High Commissioner to South Africa. She arrived at the post on 2 October, 2013. She was British Ambassador to Mexico from October 2009 to…

Judith Macgregor has been appointed British High Commissioner to South Africa. She arrived at the post on 2 October, 2013.
She was British Ambassador to Mexico from October 2009 to June 2013.
She joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1976, after
graduating from Oxford University with a first class Honours Degree in
Modern History. She has served as First Secretary in Paris and Prague;
Deputy Director of Department for Western Europe and Head of the FCO’s
Security Department. She was also Migration Director from 2007 to 2009.
Mexico is not the first time she has served as an Ambassador. She was
British Ambassador in Bratislava from 2004 to 2007. Between 1995 and
2000, she accompanied her husband during his diplomatic posts in
Dusseldorf and Warsaw.
Judith Macgregor is President of the  Foreign & Commonwealth
Office Women’s Association. She is married to John Malcolm Macgregor,
CVO and has four children.