Cape Town - The importance of leadership roles in the present day was discussed during a virtual event on Saturday to commemorate the 7th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, created a platform for speakers to engage with each other and share memories of Mandela. The aim was to also provide ideas for future generations.
The speakers strongly focused on how the forms of leadership in the country had changed over the years and emphasised the urgent need to reconnect with each other once again.
African stateswoman and widow of Mandela, Graça Machel said: “There is very little left of what we once called a home for all of us, very little in practical terms.”
She said it had been a short time since Madiba had left us, however, the transformations which had been taking place in people’s lives, the nation and region were so profound one could hardly recognise things happening daily.
“The region has changed so much, and it is going to be so difficult to have our leaders take us back in terms of connection. We really need to go back to social movements that made us connect with each other. Social movements help us to communicate and connect, and it is absent today. In order to redefine our societies, we really need to go back,” she said.
Cultural activist and writer Tsitsi Dangarembga said: “Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world. In saying this, the first president of South Africa told us how we can become the people who can imagine change through education. We need education that points at our commonalities rather than our differences.”
First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos said: “We must hold leaders accountable when they say and do things which (amount to) prejudice. In essence, we need more Madibas…”
She said leaders needed to be willing to lose political mileage in defence of the values that bind and define society.
“The fact that division was being used as a political strategy added to societal polarisation.
“Leaders must understand that shaming people does not change the way they feel. Labelling groups of people is the essence of discrimination. We need these honest conversations of why people feel the way they do, and need to fix these challenges without scapegoating others,” said Geingos.
She said many leaders embraced division, because it was easier to divide people than unite them.