OR Tambo lecture series: Lessons of the South African Transition of 1994

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Professor Mahmood Mamdani. Picture: Khubu Meth Zulu
Professor Mahmood Mamdani. Picture: Khubu Meth Zulu


South Africa’s transition to a democratic dispensation was riddled with challenges and triumphs.

After 400 years of colonialism, apartheid and a brutal struggle for liberation, South Africa was lauded internationally for averting civil war and developing one of the world’s most progressive Constitutions.

What many considered impossible was eventually achieved when people of all races queued in their millions to cast their votes in the first ever democratic elections in 1994.

Twenty-six years since the onset of our transition, it is time to reflect on some of the lessons that we have learned from our transition to a democratic dispensation.

Given the current state of our nation, it is essential that we take a deeper look at what gains have been made just as we need explore failures.

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How do we locate South Africa’s transition in the current day?

What lessons can we learn from this unique process that we undertook?

With the benefit of hindsight, was our transition the best route that we could have taken?

To answer these questions and more the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation have invited intellectual giant professor Mahmood Mamdani to deliver the first virtual lecture in the Tambo Foundation’s 10-year anniversary lecture series on “Lessons of the South African Transition of 1994”.

Given the current state of our nation, it is essential that we take a deeper look at what gains have been made just as we need explore failures.

Professor Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman professor of government and professor of Anthropology and of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University, and director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala.

A specialist on African and international politics, professor Mamdani has authored several critically acclaimed books including Citizen and Subject, When Victims Become Killers, and Good Muslim, Bad Muslim.

His latest offering, Neither Settler nor Native, makes the radical argument that the nation-state was born of colonialism and is due to be published in February 2021.

This commemorative lecture series will be held virtually and will be facilitated by chief executive officer of the foundation, Zengeziwe Msimang.

The Foundation is a public benefit organisation established in 2010 to promote, protect and preserve the legacies of its honourees, Oliver and Adelaide Tambo, by undertaking education-focused, community-upliftment initiatives.

The first virtual lecture in the Tambo Foundation’

The lecture will be livestreamed from the foundation’s YouTube page and may be viewed at https://youtu.be/K7DKfAyuz64.


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