College of Graduate Studies

Africa has a date with destiny

The concept of an African Renaissance appeals more to the "psyche than to the pocket. It trips with greater ease off the tongue of the political leader, rather than that of the economist or business leader".

Front, from left: Prof Lindiwe Zungu (Executive Dean: College of Graduate Studies), Prof Mandla Makhanya (Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor), Dr Reuel Jethro Khoza (Chairperson: Dzana Investments (Pty) Ltd, AKA Capital (Pty) Ltd), Prof Zethu Cakata (College of Human Sciences) and Prof Simphiwe Sesanti (Institute for African Renaissance Studies); Back, from left: Prof Muxe Nkondo (Unisa Council), Prof Kgomotso Masemola (College of Human Sciences), Dr Malekutu Bopape (Acting ED: DLT), Dr Onuorah J Obodozie (Institute for African Renaissance Studies), Ambassador Jamal Mohamed Barrow (Embassy of Federal Republic of Somalia), Dr Somadoda Fikeni (Director: VC Projects and Advisor to the Principal) and Prof Thomas Mogale (Executive Dean: College of Economic and Management Sciences)

The Chairperson of Dzana Investments (Pty) Ltd and AKA Capital (Pty) Ltd, Dr Reuel Khoza, issued this provocative statement as he delivered Unisa’s third African Intellectuals Project Lecture, themed Revisiting the African Renaissance and Africa’s global competitiveness imperative, on 10 June 2019.

Organised by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Office, the lecture reflected on the challenges that deter the development and future of Africa.

Khoza continued by saying that the concept appears to be more about a collective African spiritual feel-good, rather than one of economic well-being.

Dr Reuel Khoza—pioneer, thought leader, businessperson, author, academic, trailblazer and lyricist delivered Unisa’s third African Intellectuals Project Lecture.

Without the economic content and form, Khoza said, the African Renaissance vision and its programmes would remain largely a mirage shimmering in the arid political economic wasteland that characterises much of Africa to date. He pointed out that holistically it was crucial to acknowledge that the vision of the African Renaissance was an essential foundation stone, a sine qua non that created the environment and socio-political framework for sustainable economic growth and development, but that it faced a number of challenges.

History and identity of Africans

In spite of these challenges, Khoza declared that Africa had a positive date with destiny. "Implicit in this fundamental belief is an understanding of history as being cyclical; as ever-evolving and not frozen in time. Hence the concept of a renaissance, a rebirth, a return to greatness, or simply the coming of a new age. Therefore, my abiding belief is that Africa will transform. The catalytic element that is crucial to that transformation is visionary, competent, committed, ethical leadership."

Khoza challenged leaders to stand for the truth. "We need a leadership that does not consume its seed capital but invests for ensuing generations; a leadership that practises introspection and self-renewal; a leadership that is visionary and compassionate," he concluded.

In his opening remarks before the keynote address, Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said the African Renaissance had a rich history that still had to be researched and shared with the generations to come. "It is a cry or call defined by African peoples who do not allow anyone to trample on their dignity. A resolve by Africans to eradicate practices which hold us back and a call to curve a developmental path for the continent, a path that can lead Africa to prosperity."

A phase of recovery and healing

"Our internal turmoil did not only affect us, but it affected the way we are perceived throughout the world and our standing on the continent," said the VC. "We should all agree that we have gone through a painful period irrespective of where one stands and admit that we are not in a good shape. It is therefore logical, and necessary, that after such a painful period the nation should go through a phase of recovery and healing. With a clear sense of purpose, it is crucial to revisit the African Renaissance as a rallying cry. Let us gather the courage to stand, dust off the shame, and pronounce a come-back as a country."

* By Lesego Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019/06/19