Dr Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician-General of South Africa and former head of Statistics South Africa. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
Dr Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician-General of South Africa and former head of Statistics South Africa. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

The real numbers: Credit goes to those who have been so creative

By Pali Lehohla Time of article published Feb 16, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday from the illustrious inspiration of late Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala as he mourned this doyen of isicathamiya music.

Addressing parliament during his State of the Nation Address (SONA), Ramaphosa quoted Shabala on how mountains could be conquered.

South Africa has icons with staying power - legends such as Semona Tloubatla of Mahotella Queens. If they were businesses in the way business has come to be understood, they could  constitute Harvard Business School reference materials in leadership.

Last year I was invited to participate in a forum of authors, writers and publishing houses in Nairobi, Kenya. Among the luminaries present was Ngugi wa Thiong'o.

The purpose of roping in statisticians like me was to answer the vexed question of how authorship, writing and publishing is reflected in national accounts.
In particular, what is their contribution in the gross domestic product (GDP) of nations?

Arts and creative arts are as ubiquitous as tourism. 

Russian revolutionary Lenin expounded on what Marx and Engels developed as the driving force in the development of productive forces and anticipated the liberating force of science. They argued  that when productive forces are fully developed, human beings will learn what being human entails. As we enter the era of 4IR, the elevation of art is not an accident. 

Credit goes to those who have been so creative, original and true to themselves on a lifetime journey. Shabalala founded the music group in 1958 whilst Tloubatla started the musical group in 1964.

The two gave us more than a century of crucial lessons. They survived apartheid and thrived.

They have demonstrated the indomitable and generous spirit of artists and what they offer society in the 4IR era.

Wa Thiong'o vow only to publish in indigenous languages and translate only afterwards provides the potency of indigenous languages and the liberating spirit they unleash
from the colonized.

As South Africa asks itself the question quo vadis, we need not look any further but understand that being human is nigh and social compacts are an essential element not only for our survival but for thriving and enjoyment of life through the dialectical and symbiotic, mutually reinforcing materiality of arts and the 4IR.

This is what Shabalala has taught us. Thi is what Tloubatla  teaches us. And this is what Nakedi Ribane, who once called me on the economics of arts, is seeking in the power of statistics.

As Shabalala departs the world of the living being, his timeless song Nomathemba and the hope that she will one day come back should keep us hopeful.

Songs about us as Africans and staying the course and cause of freedom are not to be taken lightly. They prove the economic theory of competitive advantage.

Dr Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician-General of South Africa and former head of Statistics South Africa.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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