• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Bursary helped change Siya’s life

Siya Kolisi recently took a trip to New York City, where he met a stranger who had sponsored his scholar bursary all those years ago, ultimately changing his life!

Siya Kolisi with Vincent Mai in New York.

New York City, United States of America – Siya Kolisi – the loose-forward – became the first black player to be given the job which previously had only ever been held by white players. The colour connection is fitting because it was another shade, a mixture of both black and white, which helped shape him into the player and person he is today, namely Grey.


Grey High School is an institution in Port Elizabeth, consistently regarded as one of the best public schools in South Africa, from both an academic and sporting perspective.


The all-boys school was established in 1856 and is named after Sir George Edward Grey, a former Cape Colony Governor who also founded the renowned Grey College in Bloemfontein. Grey High’s most distinctive landmark is the famed clock tower, which stands prominently in the centre of the school grounds in the leafy suburb of Mill Park, looking over beautifully manicured lawns and brilliant white buildings, which house over 800 learners... and an ex-pupil who also attended the school has spent his life giving back to young South Africans who are not able to afford to go to the school.


Vincent Mai had attended Grey High before going on to the University of Cape Town where he excelled at rugby while studying accountancy. In 1964 he moved to London and went on to establish a highly-respected career as a merchant banker eventually settling down in New York City.


Mai established a bursary scheme at his old school back in South Africa for worthy recipients from backgrounds of lesser privilege, who deserved an opportunity to gain an excellent education at one of South Africa’s great boy’s schools.


The first recipient of the Vincent Mai Bursary Scheme at Grey High School was Siya Kolisi, the boy from Zwide Township.


Recently Kolisi visited Mai on a trip to New York City and posted a heartfelt photo to his Instagram. “Rachel and I have spent two days in NYC with Vincent and his wife Annie.  

Vincent is a fellow Grey boy and has invested in 100’s of kids in SA through bursaries, the majority of the time without ever meeting them. I was one of those kids.  

Without the opportunity, there is no way I’d be where I am today. He sowed into my life without ever knowing what would come from it, and I couldn’t be more grateful.  

I’m so honoured to have spent some time with him and his family. I’m so excited for the work we’re about to do in South Africa  together.” And South Africa is excited to see what Kolisi and Mai have in store for the country. Stronger Together!


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