Sobukwe’s vision ‘was for all’

2018-06-06 06:01
Retired Judge President Bernard Ngoepe.Photo: Boipelo Mere

Retired Judge President Bernard Ngoepe.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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“He must be turning in his grave, need I say more?”

These were the words of retired Judge President Bernard Ngoepe with regard to the dubious distinction of the nation of having the widest division between the rich and the poor.

He made the remark when delivering the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe lecture at the McGregor Museum on the evening of Thursday, 10 May.

According to his lecture, economic growth is hardly at 1%, while the unemployment rate runs into the millions despite the resources the country has.

“People masqueraded as champions of the poor and the masses, when in fact, they were there to serve their own interests and to enrich themselves.

“We have heard of rampant corruption, nepotism and more.

“We have failed to learn that serving people is not about putting your own interests first; that it is not even about putting the interests of your political party above the interests of the country. No, it is about putting the interests of the country and the people first.”

He blamed the vicious system for depriving the country of learning so many things of virtue from Sobukwe.

“This country could have been better than it is today, because many young men and women would have received the gospel he preached. It could have been spread wider, and understood better.”

Ngoepe quoted Chinese philosopher Mencius’ teachings of a great teacher.

“A gentleman teaches in five ways. The first is by a transforming influence like timely rain. The second is by helping the student to realise his virtue to the full. The third is by helping him to develop his talent. The fourth is by answering his questions. And the fifth is setting an example others not in contact with him can evaluate.”

He continued to applaud the late struggle icon. He said that from Sobukwe, we have come to learn that a person’s freedom of the mind cannot be imprisoned like a restriction through taking away their physical freedom of movement.

“(M. Fethullah) Gülen puts it this way: ‘Many people who are actually imprisoned or in chains remain free in their conscience and so do not feel their imprisonment. Many others, however, do not taste the true meaning of freedom although they inhabit the vast spaces of palaces and gardens’.

“We have people who have bought palaces with large gardens even abroad with ill-gotten monies, but are not free; they are in hiding; jumping from one country to the other.”

Referring to the legacy of Sobukwe being claimed by the different parties, mostly the ANC and PAC, he said: “The struggle against apartheid belonged to all. Oh yes, Sobukwe was the founder of the PAC, but there is one mistake we should never make, namely to try and judge his legacy with reference to the political fortunes, or, more appropriately, misfortunes, of the present PAC.

“For one thing, his vision was not just for the PAC, but for the entire country as well; indeed, for the entire continent.”

According Ngoepe, Sobukwe has played his role.

“He owes us nothing; absolutely nothing: It is us who remain deeply indebted to him and his dear wife, our mother.”

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