Upholding a legacy

2013-09-28 11:00

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He dreamed of making a difference and at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory Sello Hatang is doing just that.

Nations maintain archives to ensure that legacies remain relevant and tangible.

As the recently appointed Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, with publications under his belt that include Mandela’s book Conversations with Myself, Sello Hatang is the ideal person to promote Madiba’s values and vision.

What do you regard as the main role of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory?

Creating a safe space for dialogue on critical issues and a space for members of the public to engage with exhibitions on the life and times of Nelson Mandela.

Advancing the Mandela Day campaign into a global movement for good.

The biggest challenge the Centre faces?

Like all other NGOs in South Africa, funding will be a key challenge in the current economic environment.

Where did you grow up and what inspired your career route?

I grew up in Khuma in Stilfontein. I was inspired by my history teacher, Mr Thami Majova, to follow careers which at the time hadn’t been followed by many black people.

He mentioned archival science and the role of being an archivist.

That resonated with me and I wrote to the National Archives of South Africa.

I was in Standard 8 or 9 at the time. I ended up studying BA Education through Vista University, now University of Pretoria.

I then did Heritage Studies through Wits.

What is your proudest achievement?

Being seconded to the TRC by the National Archives of South Africa to assist with their archives and witness history unfold.

Also being part of the first team to work on conceptualising Mandela Day and its roll-out as a movement for change.

Anything you wish you had done differently or difficulties you’ve had to overcome?

I wish I’d had the comfort of completing my Masters without having to start working right after completing my junior degree because I had to take care of my siblings and my mother.

I had to face the challenges of stufying with no financial backing.

One lesson you have learned.

The value of family. My five siblings and I were raised by a single mother who was a domestic worker but never once gave up on the responsibility of seeing us through every day.

A sense of community is what defines me and defines our nation.

Your favourite Nelson Mandela quotes?

‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead’ – at the 90th birthday celebration of Walter Sisulu on 18 May 2002.

Leadership books I recommend

1 The Saint, the Surfer and the CEO by Robin Sharma

2 Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do! by Robert H Schuller

3 The Management Bible by Neil Flanagan and Jarvis Finger

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