‘Worthy African leaders overlooked’

2015-04-30 16:52

Conrad Bornman

ROY??JANKIELSOHN Photo: Conrad Bornman

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ROY JANKIELSOHN, the DA’s MPL in the Free State, believes there are worthy home-grown African leaders, deserving to be honoured, whom the C.R. Swart Building in Bloemfontein can be named after.

Jankielsohn’s remarks came in the wake of Free State Premier Elias “Ace” Magashule’s announcement of the renaming of the Lebohang Building to O.R. Tambo in honour of the ANC’s late president and the C.R. Swart Building to Fidel Castro, honouring the late prime minister of Cuba. Magashule announced this during his State of the Province Address on 25 February.

Jankielsohn remarked during the debate on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill on 16 March that Magashule was overlooking African leaders of note, such as Morena Mohlomi, as deserving the honour to have the building named after them.

Jankielsohn maintained Mohlomi had distinguished himself as an inspiring leader.

“In 2011 Max du Preez delivered the annual C.R. Swart Lecture at the University of the Free State (UFS). In his lecture he spoke a great deal about African philosophers and what we could learn from them,” Jankielsohn said.

“I am talking about it again, because it appears from the way we debate that our province has rejected that which is indigenous and inherently good in favour of the perpetuation of a chapter of our history that should be systematically closing. This is bad for the Free State.

“By naming a building after Fidel Castro, a foreigner and a man of violence, we are entrenching violence as a value that is acceptable and one to strive towards.

“Many people regard Castro as a revolutionary and a liberator, which might within a specific context appear to be noble, but one must always be careful not to entrench the concept of violence and violent revolution as ongoing ideals in our current society.

“At the same time, we must not forget the plight of many who were victims of Castro’s human rights abuses, mass executions, torture, imprisonment and institutionalised theft of property.

“For many Cubans, Castro was a tyrant who, through his deeds, despised all the democratic rights and freedoms that we cherish in our Constitution. For others Castro might be a hero.”

Jankielsohn emphasised that from Du Preez’s appraisal about Mohlomi there were positive aspects politicians in the Free State should not only learn from, but strive to follow.

“Mohlomi was a king in the Mohokare area in the 18th century. He was a visionary leader whose counter-intuitive leadership should not only be recognised, but be part of our collective vision for the province.

“According to legend, Mohlomi was told in a vision to be a man of love and peace, to be fair and just, to see all people as his brothers and sisters, to have compassion and patience, and to give special consideration to children, women and old people.

“Based on this, we must ask ourselves whether our actions and examples as politicians in the Free State promote this vision. We must also ask ourselves whether this is what adults are teaching our children in our broader society, schools and homes.

“Mohlomi disbanded his fighting units and encouraged his able-bodied men to get involved in agriculture and be better husbands and fathers. He set an example by never using alcohol, dagga or tobacco.

“Today, our society is faced with serious problems relating to the spread of HIV and Aids, teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and the lack of paternal responsibility. Our reaction has been to distribute contraceptives, pay out child grants, run anti-drug and alcohol-abuse campaigns, while continuing to promote so called ‘macho’ (male-dominated) values.

“Mohlomi coined the phrases ‘peace is my sister’ and ‘a knobkerrie

is far more valuable when used to thrash corn than to kill men on the battlefield’. In fact, he started the traditional greeting of ‘khotso’, meaning ‘peace’.

“Another lesson that we can learn from Mohlomi is that which he instructed his chiefs: ‘When you sit in judgement, let your decisions be just. The law knows none as a poor man.’

“This is an important lesson for those in authority. Decisions of politicians affect every aspect of people’s lives. Just decision-making does not only apply to the direct use of political authority, but in the motives that underlie political decision-making.

“We have to constantly do introspection as politicians to determine what our real motives are and be brutally honest with ourselves in the process.

“South Africa has a violent past, and while we now have one of the most progressive constitutions in the world and where the rule of law is supposed to exist, we all live under fear of criminal violence.

“In this respect our criminal justice system attempts to deal with the symptoms, but not the root causes of this problem. The cause lies with the lack of personal responsibility and lack of respect for authority – a result of the breakdown of the family.”

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