• Walter Sisulu University Chancellor Dr Sheila Sisulu,
• Chairperson of Council Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi (Jola) and other members of Council,
• Vice-Chancellor Professor Nolundi Rushiella Songca (maXolo),
• Executive management,
• Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and family,
• Anglican fraternity and all churches present,
• Special guests in attendance and those watching virtually,
• Academics, staff and students
• Chairperson of the UDM in the Eastern Cape, Ms Noncedo Zinti, MPL
• Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to participate in Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s Annual Lecture and for allowing me to have a discussion with you on the all-important topics of women development and leadership in South Africa, and in the Eastern Cape.
It is good to be back at this campus. In 1979 I enrolled in the branch of Fort Hare of what became the University of Transkei that is now the Walter Sisulu University (WSU).
However, my military career prevented me from completing my studies. I still remember Professors Nkuhlu and Mjoli were among my lecturers in the Faculty of Economic Sciences.
2. Thank you to our mothers
To start off, each of us, was in some shape or form influenced by the women that brought us into this world.
Most of us owe a debt of gratitude to the mothers that nurtured and raised us, and who taught us the basics of life.
Such is the foundational role of women in our lives, and I want to take this opportunity to thank our mothers for raising us, despite the challenges that face them.
Another aspect that should make us be thankful for the women of South Africa is the eminent role they played in effecting change during the Apartheid years.
The words: “Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo” have been immortalised and evokes the strength of the women of this nation.
I would like to tell you a few anecdotes to illustrate the leadership of the women of yesteryear.
I interacted with Mam’ uWinnie Madikizela-Mandela in the late 1980s when the African National Congress (ANC) leadership in Lusaka and Madiba mandated her to convey the message to the then Military Government of the Transkei, that the late King Sabata Dalindyebo should be reburied in a dignified manner deserving of his political and traditional stature.
In 1990, during my visit to the Mandela’s Soweto home after Madiba’s release, Mama uWinnie expressed legitimate concerns about Madiba’s safety. She said it would not be proper to ask Mr FW De Klerk’s government to provide for his security. She thought that I might be able to assist, and I was honoured to do so until members of MK (uMkhonto we Sizwe) came back inside the country.
At the beginning of the so-called black-on-black violence, I was again called to Johannesburg to urgently meet with uMama and Madiba and she categorically said to me, “Bantu, this cannot be tolerated, this violence must be stopped!”. After that strong message, Madiba and I proceeded to visit some of the affected areas in Soweto.
Again, when Mr FW de Klerk withdrew the indemnity for Chris Hani, Madiba summoned me to his House in Soweto and broke the news. He suggested that we proceed to the Sisulu House in Soweto and guess what, it was Mama Albertina Sisulu that said that Mr De Klerk was taking chances and there is no way Chris would be arrested.
As some of you might know, that particular evening, Chris was whisked out of Soweto to the Transkei. Mr De Klerk was told in no uncertain terms, that if you want Chris Hani, you will have to apply for extradition. Fortunately, he became sober and withdrew that warrant of arrest.
Thus were the leadership roles these women of the past had taken.
The question is whether their counterparts of today have the gravitas and will to stand up and follow the original agenda, that of better