To know how we got here, we must remember where we have come from. To get to where we want to be, we must follow in the footsteps of those who showed us the way.
To transform South Africa into the land we all dreamt it should be, we must live true to the values, ethics and bravery of those who stood up against the tyranny and injustice of apartheid.
SA is in perhaps its most dangerous place since the dawn of democracy. The gap of inequality has grown. Millions live in poverty. The spectre of state capture and corruption hangs heavy over us, each new revelation a stain on our country.
Our country, our people and our leaders need a rebirth. We need to reimmerse ourselves in the ideals of those who fought the struggle against apartheid, who devoted themselves selflessly to the cause of the oppressed and the poor.
Dr Beyers Naudé was one such man. As a founding patron of the Kagiso Trust, he remains our moral compass. At the Kagiso Trust, as we seek to overcome poverty and inequality, we ask ourselves every day: “What would Beyers Naudé do?”
At the most recent Beyers Naudé Memorial Lecture – where we have difficult conversations to find solutions to build social justice, reconciliation and courageous leadership – Prof John Lamola of the University of Johannesburg, spoke on: “Being born again into the struggle for a non-racial, just and prosperous South Africa.
“We have to, and can remake ourselves, be reborn into a vision of truly nonracial, equitable and caring society,” he said, adding that Naudé left teachings for all.
He used the example of Naudé’s life. Born into a Broederbond family and a church that supported apartheid, the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 affected him deeply and was a turning point. He left the Dutch Reformed Church, famously hang- ing up his gown in the church after his last sermon. He was ostracised by the Afrikan- er community and called a traitor.
“White South Africans must search for lessons from Naudé’s ability to choose for himself the kind of person he became, despite the strong cultural and political ideologies within which he was embedded…
“Those among us who boast a life of his- tory in the past struggle against apartheid are challenged that we cannot remain im- prisoned into a mentality that forever says ‘I have suffered in struggle’, ‘I was in jail’ or ‘I was in exile’. Such state of consciousness has bred a culture of political elitism and an entitlement to loot state coffers with impunity. We need to be re-conscientised into a people who feel and act in passion as it was in the 1970s,” said Lamola.
“Stop quoting Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo in the day, while at night you are stealing and conniving with the enemies of the common good of the people of SA. Remake yourself; be born again.”
Lamola urged South Africans to take responsibility for this rebirth as individuals. “The salvation of South Africa does not lie in the renewal of some political party or the reconstitution of our body politic. It lies with the renewal of the individual selves; with the transformation of the inner self of the kind ‘a Naudé’ underwent.”
Every day, as we strive to build the country that we want SA to be, as we look for a life to emulate, we should ask our- selves: “What do I need to do to be born again into the struggle for a non-racial, just and prosperous South Africa.”
– Mankodi Moitse is CEO of Kagiso Trust