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Unisa online - TMALI displays its thought leaders

TMALI displays its thought leaders

The Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI) has produced its first 141-strong group of thought leaders in a ceremony jointly organised by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation and Unisa on 6 August 2012.

The certificate ceremony was attended by the Patron himself, Former South African President Thabo Mbeki.  Prof Hellicy Ngambi, Executive Dean: College of Economic and Management Sciences, who is also a lecturer at TMALI, inspired graduates to become “RARE” (Responsible, Accountable, Relevant and Ethical) leaders in their own areas.

Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mandla Makhanya opened the event by saying that now, more than ever before, Africans are in need of a calibre of leaders whose integrity and skills will contribute to the unlocking and unleashing of the huge potential that resides in our continent. “The Institute is now firmly a part of Unisa and this will ensure not only its longevity, but also the expansion of quality academic offerings in line with its developmental trajectory”.

Prof Makhanya also mentioned that in this cohort of young men and women, reside future leaders, governors and administrators of the highest order, “a calibre of Africans that will do us proud at home and abroad.”

Dr Mathews Phosa, Unisa Council Chairperson said that great strides have been made in education, but the problems caused by the apartheid system still remain. “We cannot ignore the devastating effects that the apartheid education system had on our people. We will not achieve any of our goals by looking back. We must look forward, and take full responsibility for the tasks assigned to us by the electorate.”

Dr Phosa highlighted the fact that such challenges are societal and go beyond party politics and mentioned poverty as one significant barrier to education. “According to the SA Human Rights Commission, children in the poorest households are nearly three times less likely to complete secondary schooling, and for those who are able to attend school, the quality of education is not uniform.”

Dr Phosa Added that this will have an effect on generations and asked; “is it not time for us as leaders to fall on our swords when we fail to deliver on promises we have made and undertakings we have taken.” He mentioned that education is an important factor in economic development. “There are few leaders who are prepared to do anything about the socio-economy facing their countries, hence the talk of rare leadership”.

In his keynote address, Dr Godwin R Murunga, Deputy Director: African Leadership Centre, Nairobi, Kenya congratulated the students and Unisa for hosting the TMALI. “One can count how many such initiatives exist on the continent; the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Chair in Pan-African Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam that occasionally collaborates with the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation and The Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies based at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana at Legon come to mind. But none of them is dedicated to the question of leadership in Africa and that differentiates the TMALI.” Dr Murunga added that “Thought Leadership” is a fitting description of Mbeki’s work and leadership. He mentioned that Mbeki has bequeathed South Africa and indeed, Africa, a fitting legacy. “Your profile refuses to be limited to SA or Africa and, as your I am an African speech made clear, your vision of leadership is rooted in Africa but has a worldwide reach,” said Dr Murunga.

He said that in the last decade or so, there have been many programmes, centres, institutes, and academies explicitly dedicating themselves to one element or another of leadership training and it is a known fact that there is space for many more similar initiatives in Africa addressing the leadership question and we need to encourage the growth of more Centres. “After all, we cannot deny that as a continent, we have a disproportionate share of challenges, many of which, Yoweri Museveni told us more than a decade ago, are related in some way to poor or bad leadership,” said Dr Murunga.

He mentioned that in most of these training programmes, the importance of knowledge and the value of being knowledgeable is often frowned upon. “As a continent, we have a lukewarm relationship to knowledge and ideas. We hardly invest adequately in knowledge; our higher education institutions on the continent are collapsing because of neglect… our intellectual communities are fragmented, dispersed, neglected and ridiculed.”

“As a continent, we seem keen to confirm the World Bank injunction hinted at a meeting of VC of African universities in Harare in 1985 that Africa does not need her universities,” concluded Dr Murunga.

*Written by Trevor Khanyile

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