A call to the youth to step up OR Tambo style

In celebration of OR Tambo’s leadership, THE MAIL & GUARDIAN  hosted a Critical Thinking Forum which prompted the youth to step up and do more.

THE MAIL & GUARDIAN newspaper hosted the Critical Thinking Forum on the leadership lessons learnt from Oliver Tambo earlier this week at Wits University’s School of Governance. In celebration of Tambo’s 100th birthday, a panel discussion reflected on his leadership with the aim to inspire the youth about South Africa’s current leadership, political and socio-economic challenges.

The panel discussion, led by KhayaFM host John Perlman, included trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Barbara Masekela, World Food Programme Executive Deputy Director of Hunger Solutions, Dr Sheila Sisulu and former Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramathlodi.  The forum’s discussion focused on calling for the youth to step up and assume their role to be more proactive.

After being asked by one of the audience members about current leadership placing prominence on personalities as opposed to society, Ramatlhodi said, “He [Tambo] would have been profoundly disappointed with today’s leadership, especially those raised under his baton.”

Left to right: Former Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramathlodi and World Food Programme Executive Deputy Director of Hunger Solutions, Dr Sheila Sisulu engaging other panelists during the discussion.                 Photo: Nomvelo Chalumbira

One student, apparently despondent with the current leadership, also criticised panellists saying, “Tambo was a doer and not a talker. The elders today, talk too much and do too little.”

The Wits SRC President Kefentse Mkhari added that inclusivity is only spoken about in principle and does not exist in the spaces we (students and student leaders) occupy. This was evident within the local branches of the ANC, Mkhari said.

The panelists emphasised that the upcoming young leaders and students in South Africa, should not only be putting forward questions and looking to the elders on how to better our society and achieve change, but come forward with solutions and do more to contribute to excelling in performance and service to others.

Trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Barbara Masekela                                                                                                                                             Photo: Nomvelo Chalumbira

Masekela said the struggle is now for the youth. “We are tired. We are burying our friends. I am 76 years old and been in the struggle since I was 16 and we are still in the struggle. It’s your turn. Get into the struggle with the people in your street. The solutions lie in your hands.”

Sisulu challenged the youth’s means of solving issues and advocating for change.

“Hashtags are the new means of communication. What’s important is what you’re hash tagging about. To be able to find solutions to anything, you need to understand the nature of the issue. These old people are not going to do anything … As students I’d say organise, organise, organise and band together. [You] need to be active activist citizens. We gave them [the government] our vote but not our power,” said Sisulu.


This article was first published on Wits Vuvuzela May 19, 2017.


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