Former Judge Albie Sachs, Ms Elinor Sisulu, and the Honourable Bantu Holomisa complimented former President Nelson Mandela during a University of Johannesburg (UJ) public dialogue on the Nelson Mandela Centenary on Thursday, 26 July 2018.
The dialogue commenced with the screening of a documentary on President Mandela’s political and family life. Many of the attendees were young people, mostly UJ political science students, who raised questions on the promise of Madiba’s vision in the conduct of the current political leaders in South Africa, and Africa.
”Madiba was a great person because he was a good listener. He articulated collegiality, allowing everyone to be heard. Of course he did not single-handedly lead us to democracy, he was with the other great leaders such as the Sisulus, Tambos, Mbekis, and others, fighting the apartheid government together,” said Judge Sachs.
He added: “The one good thing that apartheid did was to create anti-apartheid. That’s how I met the great Nelson Mandela! His legacy will never disappear.”
Sachs is the former Constitutional Court Judge of South Africa, Ms Elinor Sisulu an Executive Director of the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation in Johannesburg, and the Honourable Bantu Holomisa is the President of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), South Africa.
Ms Sisulu said that many young people must learn the history of African leaders to fully understand the African politics. “Know your history, know your continent. Mandela was a leader who lived constitutionally, he would accept when a judge struck down his proclamations – a trait that some African leaders lack,” said Ms Sisulu.
Mr Holomisa said that the government and all the people of South Africa need to review the question of the land in the constitution because it had not been addressed to the benefit of many black people, including all those that were marginalised. “When we trained the uMkhonto we Sizwe in Uganda, we wanted a better life for all, not for people to continue living in poverty. The ruling party has not fulfilled that promise to the people,” said Holomisa.
Some of the questions raised included: Why the notion that Nelson Mandela was a sell-out continues to be mentioned by some members of the public? Can we move on as a united nation and stop dwelling on the past?
Some of the comments from the audience during the question and answer session: I’m concerned that people are glorifying Madiba as a god who ushered democracy to South Africa individually, I do not agree with the notion that Mandela is glorified because Madiba’s legacy served a purpose of Ubuntu. His leadership represented a greater good for all people who aspire to have a harmonious society, I think Madiba would have called the Afrikaans community to engage them on the current land issue if he was around, because he consulted everyone fairly.
The Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC) hosted the dialogue. The Institute was established to create a platform for academics from across Africa to converge and bring to bear intellectual capabilities and contributions that have been marginalised on the global stage.
On 18 and 19 August 2018, the Institute will be hosting a conference on “Transforming Ivory Towers to Ebony Towers: Lessons for South Africa’s Curriculum Transformation in the Humanities from Africa and African American Studies.”