Walter Sisulu possessed something valuable, the understanding of the importance of education in changing people’s lives for the better. As he once said, “There is a place in the world for those who understand that the responsibility of education goes far beyond personal success and individual aspirations. It is a higher purpose, a calling to improve the world around you, to give back from whence you got and to be part of something bigger than yourself.”
On 18th May 2014, a celebration of this late stalwart’s birthday was precisely fitting to his vision of constant innovative ways that advance and develop future leaders through education. This celebration was in the form of a Jazz Concert as Walter loved music, it was held at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City in Johannesburg. The Walter Sisulu Jazz Concert celebrated 102 years of this great stalwart’s legacy together with 20 years of the South African democracy.
The concert was also a gathering of committed patrons and friends of the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) , who came in numbers to not only take lessons from the legacy of this fallen hero but to also give support to the university foundation’s fundraising efforts.
“The university was kind enough to honour us at one point for our efforts in changing the music industry into more than just an entertainment platform but a vehicle for change. This university has faced numerous challenges including lack of resources; we therefore felt it important to use our skills to plough back for its continued existence. Universities are needed assets for countries to grow and develop, WSU is very important particularly because of where it is based as it serves a largely disadvantaged demographic that definitely needs it,” explained Dr Caiphus Semenya, a renowned music icon & a Walter Sisulu University honorary graduate.
The jazz concert was more than just a spectacular splendor of music and dance; it was an introduction of the Walter Sisulu Legacy Fund which is the home of great possibilities for the university and the Eastern Cape Province. It was also a stepping stone to mobilising people who share the same vision as Walter, that of building society through learning.
The event was honoured by the presence of the Sisulu Family, key political figures, captains of the business fraternity, prominent scholars and fellow compatriots.
In a speech made by Walter’s daughter, Berryl Sisulu on the night, she noted how humble and people oriented her father was and just how deep his passion for education ran. “I believe if he were here today he would be more than proud to see so many gathered in his name for change, for using education in a positive light that seeks to greatly impact the lives of others,” said Ms Sisulu
Performances of the night included internationally recognised honorary graduates of the university: Dr Jonan Gwangwa, Dr Caiphus Semenya, Dr Letta Mbulu and a friend of the university hailing from the Eastern Cape Ms Simphiwe Dana. Also performing were university former students who too wished to plough back to their university and were able to: Berita, Max-hoba and Umthwakazi.