Change the world


These insights from the Beyers Naudé Memorial Lecture are courtsesy of the Kagiso Trust

On 30th October 2015 Kagiso Trust, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, hosted a lively and robust panel discussion on "conscious leadership"  as part of the Trust’s 30 year anniversary celebrations. The keynote address was delivered by the Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki.

Thank you to everyone who attended and shared their pearls of wisdom!  We have recorded below some of the key insights shared by esteemed panellists. We hope they are useful and provide you with some food for thought!

Mr Thabo Mbeki – Former President of the Republic of South Africa

  • Today's leaders and society must ask themselves, "what is wrong today, where do we want to go as a nation, how do we get there?"
  • Students need to be part of the transformation they have ushered in, in relation to #FeesMustFall campaign.
  • We should draw lessons from past effective and principled leadership.
  • We needed Beyers Naudé to be as he was, distinguished by gentleness, virtue, wisdom, and endurance, one who knew how to suffer woes and forgive wrongs, how to defy Power, never losing hope, determined neither to change, nor falter, nor repent, at all times remaining good, great and joyous, beautiful and free, and permanently committed to the victory of the common cause in the service of humanity.
  • Oom Bey was all these things because he was truly and deeply committed to a noble value system.
  • That is the reason that our country is in dire need of an ecumenical vision for social justice, and ecumenical leaders who cannot be corrupted or bought off, and a church that is resilient in the face of harsh challenges from erstwhile friends.
  • We mustn’t let foreign people dictate and decide who should lead us. What kind of leadership are we producing if we are not able to defend the right of the people of the world to decide who their governments are?
  • "As Africans, we need to assess ourselves, 21 years into democracy in terms of all these things we wanted to achieve by now. We should even hold our leaders accountable. Ask why our Thabo Mbeki’s left us with this mess and they must answer"
  • #FeesMustFall - South Africa needs educated people even at the highest level and if all of us can get university degrees, then we should.
  • What the students did was good (unite and mass demonstrations) on the fee issue. However this raised other questions and they took on another obligation to say that we too are going to be part of the instruments for change of the system of our education.
  • Our universities are not producing enough teachers. We need people in the natural sciences fields and engineering among other professions. We need to look at qualifications that are better for the development of society.
  • Students have an obligation to participate in the economy as active players and not just spectators.
  • It’s when you act on the matter that you get to see the challenges – we can’t eat and sleep slogans. We have to eat what comes of what we practically do.

Reverend Frank Chikane – Kagiso Trust Chairman

  • Conscious leaders are aware of their environment.
  •  KT was conscious of obfuscation 30 years ago when it was founded – which means they were aware of the confusion in Europe during the struggle. KT asked them to apply sanctions to South Africa and give KT the money to take care of the people.
  • Kagiso Trust had conscious leaders that decided that they must develop a sustainable organisation that would take care of the needs of the people and empower them. Conscious leaders who developed a strategy when Europe withdrew its funds and never depend on a donor.
  • Challenges facing today’s leaders: the tendency of deviating from what we fought for - comrades died and paid heavy prices for the South Africa we have today yet we are deviating away from what they fought for.
  • The youth were conscious last week when they protested in the past week as they showed that they were concerned for the needs of the poor and not their own needs. This showed that the youth are standing in solidarity for the “poor” than the “privileged”.
  • #FeesMustFall - You can’t say the victims of apartheid must have money to go to school and if you don’t have money, don’t go.

Prof Ncedile Saule - NMMU Languages and Literature Department 

  • We need a strategy to have our youth employed and education is a priority and can produce good leaders.
  • We must move away from education of subservience - why should a graduate, graduate and still go out and look for work instead of graduating and creating jobs for others?
  • We need our education to talk to us, the land we live on must be the best employer.
  • We need to empower and educate our own so we don’t have to look into foreign countries when looking for skilled people who don’t have much interest in us and have their own agendas – Why do we go to China for agriculture while we have our people here?
  • The youth need to preserve African languages.
  • The university student protests on fee hikes that took place were bound to happen, the focus should be on how we move forward and ensure that those who  can’t afford high tuition fees have access to quality higher education.

Daniel Dube  –  First President of National Union of Metal Workers

  • In Oom Bey’s words - We have one South Africa and it is our responsibility to make it a success and we cannot fail - dare not fail!
  • Today we are looking at another wave of resistance against the enemy of racism, oppression, denial of opportunities and everything that our youth today are fighting against.
  •  We must draw inspiration from leaders such as Oom Bey and the likes.

Sam Beynon  –  NMMU Student 

  • History, context and culture are very important.
  • We need young conscious African leaders to improve the human condition, further advance Africa’s development and realise a just world.
  • Conscious leadership should be truthful and accountable.
  • Conscious leadership aside from ethical character and solidarity is thought liberation and critical consciousness.
  • Thought liberation – acknowledging that the historical dominance of foreign thoughts in the conceptualisation of our South African policies prevents transformation required in the continent as a whole.
  • Transcendence – you transcend conscious leadership when you pursue interests for your own self-enrichment at the expense of the people you pretended to lead.
  • We cannot deny the past. Staying in denial might hinder transformation.
  • Although a traditional and orthodox approach is useful, young people need to be innovative and creative in their approach when facing their modern issues.
  • We need to start valuing professions that are currently undervalued; teaching, social work, nursing, youth and child care workers – such undervalued professions that contribute to potential contributing citizens of society.