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Unisa online - Grooming Africa's leaders


Discussing the potential for Africa and the leaders that can take the continent to new heights, from left: Prof Godfrey Netswera (Director of the Unisa Research Office), Prof Catherine Hoppers (Chairperson of the South African Research Chairs Initiative in Development Education), Dr Maureen Tong (Acting head of TMALI) and Prof Paul Zeleza (Dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles)

The Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), held a two-day colloquium on 14 June 2012, with an overarching theme on the role of African leaders in uplifting the continent.

TMALI was launched in 2010 as a partnership between Unisa and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation. The main aim of the partnership is to develop change agents that will help implement democratic policies in their respective nations to regenerate the continent, in the political, economic and human rights spheres. The colloquium, which forms a broader part of the institute’s research agenda during the next four years, brought together a number of academics from different parts of the world to discuss and debate leadership issues. Topics ranged from the African renaissance, democratisation, peace and security as well as science and technology.

Prof Catherine Hoppers, Chairperson of the South African Research Chairs Initiative in Development Education, highlighted that poverty was still a major stumbling block in Africa’s continued development. She challenged academics and leaders to present credible solutions to these issues. “Nearly 70% of African people live in rural areas, where they eke out their livelihood. How can we as Africa’s leaders take on poverty while not degrading the continent?”

Prof Paul Zeleza, Dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles delivered the keynote address reinforcing the notion of growing and identifying young, credible leaders. His presentation focused on key geopolitical events that shaped the continent as well as development during the past one hundred years. “Africa was called the hopeless continent, but now, boasts six out of the ten fastest growing countries in the world. Africa has a chance of rising,” he said.

He also drew attention to former president Thabo Mbeki’s vision of an African Renaissance and that many nations were united in a bid for that rejuvenation. Prof Zeleza pointed out, that to this end, the continent was now becoming  a major hub for investment and trade, with economists forecasting positive growth over the next decade. However, he cautioned that corruption and bad governance could derail these efforts. “African states need to use these gains for industrialisation and skills development. For renewal, civil society must be trusted and given a voice to help grow democracy within nations.”

TMALI also facilitated a number of parallel sessions on various matters presented by academics and contributors, a panel discussion on leadership regarding Africa’s renewal and a feedback session to turn ideas and plans into action.


The Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute hopes to groom 'change agents,' that will help transform the African continent. Pictured here is; Dr Maureen Tong (Acting head of TMALI)

Prof Paul Zeleza (Dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles) discussed the imperative of economic growth in Africa


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