10 September 2019 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Stephen Collett
Dr Edith Phaswana
Dr Edith Phaswana, acting Head of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, delivered the fifth King Moshoeshoe Memorial Lecture on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

Dr Edith Phaswana, acting Head of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, delivered the fifth King Moshoeshoe Memorial Lecture on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State. 

Dr Phaswana indicated that she saw the lecture as a platform to reflect on leadership in the country.

The event was hosted by the Directorate: Community Engagement, and was attended by university management structures, staff and students, as well as members of government and business, traditional leaders, municipal counsellors, church leaders, and high school learners.

Welcoming all attendees to the lecture, was Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor. “This lecture is a platform for public debate around key issues faced by society,” he said. 

Prof Petersen continued: “We have historical leaders on the African continent who can demonstrate that there are things you can learn from us. One of these leaders is King Moshoeshoe 1, an example of ethical leadership.”

In her address, Dr Phaswana also honoured King Moshoeshoe 1. She said Africa was riddled with colonialism, slavery, and apartheid. For a long time, this was the situation on the continent, without the rest of the word knowing the truth – the other side of the story. “We need to re-write the story in a way that does not glorify the hunter,” she urged.

African solutions for African problems

“There are many movements towards power for Africans, including the fight against colonialism, black consciousness, psychological liberation of black persons, and many others – all to provide African solutions to African problems. But in all these movements, we need to find African unity. This is the pinnacle of what Africans strive for.”

On the topic of leadership, she stated: “Africa is desperate for a critical mass of thought leaders. Leaders who can acknowledge that the story as told by the hunter is a single story. Leaders that will dig deeper and understand and discover our own heroes. Leaders who question and challenge knowledge and do not just accept everything.” 

She pointed out that thought leaders knew what was best for their people, and also knew their own strengths and limitations. 
 “Thought leaders are unconventional. King Moshoeshoe 1 demonstrated exemplary thought leadership at the young age of 19. He was sought for advice.”

King Moshoeshoe Memorial Lecture
Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor; Prof Puleng LenkaBula,; Mr Skully Thembeni Nxangisa,
MEC for Cooperative Governance  and  Traditional Affairs;and  Dr Edith Phaswana, acting Head of the Thabo Mbeki African
Leadership Institute, who delivered the lecture.

Young people can make a difference

“Young people too can make their mark in the world,” Phatswana told the young attendees. “We are all big enough to make a mark in society.” 

She, however, believes that not enough is being done on the continent to develop youth leadership. “As Africans, we should aspire to value our young people who have valuable contributions to make in society.”

Dr Phaswana also talked about changes to the curriculum. “We need a different curriculum. We need to find our own existence in the world of knowledge. We need no longer be silent and accept defeat as African scholars,” she stated. 

Be the difference you want to see

The MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Skully Thembeni Nxangisa, said the lecture came at the right time – a time when South Africa was facing several challenges, such as poverty, inequality, and violence against women and children. 

He called on communities to stop killing each another. “This lecture helps us to look inside ourselves for a lasting solution to our challenges,” he said.

“King Moshoeshoe 1 was a warrior, a nation builder, a diplomat, a protector, and a believer in a doctrine not separating him from his people. Go back and access the wisdom of our forefathers,” Mr Nxangisa stated.

He called on all spheres of society to take hands and to make a difference. “Be the difference you want to see,” he said and added that students, through community engagement, could play an important role in social cohesion. 

Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs, and Community Engagement, concluded: “It is up to our young people to identify leaders that will make our society flourish and live in harmony.”

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