Conversations with my Sons and Daughters - Maphela Ramphela

of 21/21
We Read For You: 02 August 2013 Your partner in world-class business learning Conversations with My Sons and Daughters By Mamphela Ramphele Presented by Prof Basil C Leonard

Embed Size (px)


Conversations with my Sons and Daughters was born as a consequence of the many mentoring requests that Dr Mamphela Ramphele receives. The book begins with an angry young man crying “Mabu a u tswitse” (“The soil has been stolen”). This idiomatic call to arms in defence of the land speaks for itself. It is thus apt that, in the one-way conversations contained in her book, Dr Ramphele strongly responds to the growing despair among young South Africans. She also points out the cracks that are appearing in South Africa’s governance since the Mandela presidency. She shows incisively how successive post-apartheid ANC governments have betrayed the nation for a culture of impunity among those close to the seat of power, where corruption goes unremarked and accountability has been swept aside. The book is challenging but also encouraging – it urges young South Africans to set aside their fears; to take control of their rights and responsibilities as citizens in upholding the values of the constitution; and to confront the growing inequality that is undermining good governance, social justice and stability. In this session of We Read For You, Prof Basil Leonard unpacks the essence of this book.

Transcript of Conversations with my Sons and Daughters - Maphela Ramphela

Slide 1

We Read For You: 02 August 2013

Your partner in world-class business learning

Conversations with

My Sons and


By Mamphela Ramphele

Presented by Prof Basil C Leonard

Mabu a u tswitswe! These are words uttered in 2011 by a young professional man who felt no need to

explain the context of these weighty words to

Mamphela Ramphele. He assumed that she would

understand his distress and its source.

This is a Sepedi idiom which literally means the soil has been stolen. It is used as a call to action to defend the land following the assassination of a king

by a conquering power. All able-bodied men would be

expected to prepare to avenge the outrage and

reclaim the land from the usurpers.

Ramphele, it seems, has taken it on herself to heed that call. Conversations with My Sons and Daughters

is a declaration of war on the failings of South African

governance, and the South African government, since

the Mandela presidency. To hear Ramphele tell it,

those failings are many (Lewis Mash).


Why would this idiom be used by a young SA in


Ramphele states that not even memories of the inspirational leadership of the iconic Nelson Mandela

can hide the growing sense of disappointment that the

dream of freedom is yet to be reflected in the

everyday lives of the majority of the population.

After more than a decade and a half of transition to democracy cracks are showing in the system of

governance that threaten the idealism on which the

society reinvented itself.

Question: What is governance?

Governance is understood as the exercise of authority with three basic dimensions: political, economic and


The political dimension is measured through indicators for democratic accountability, political stability and

absence of major conflict and violence in society.

The economic dimension reflects government effectiveness and the quality of the regulatory framework

and its execution.

The institutional dimension refers to matters pertaining to the rule of law, the control of corruption and

the strengths of public institutions that underpin good



Over the last decade or so South Africa has been

showing signs of decline in its performance as a well-

governed country. State capture in the political,

economic and institutional dimensions is becoming a

reality of our society.

The governments own National Planning Commissions Diagnostic Report released in June 2011, lists a number

of issues that signal the trend towards the kind of decline

that brought down the Hapsburg Empire in Europe and

the post-colonial state in Latin America and Africa.

Indicators of decline we are to watch for:

Rising corruption; Weakening of state and civil society institutions; Poor economic management; Skills and capital flight; Politics dominated by short-termism, ethnicity or


Lack of maintenance of infrastructure & standards of service

According to Ramphele, the most disquieting overall

finding by the National Planning Commission is that

poverty and inequality persist.

This means that the majority of South Africans remain

poor and marginalised. Social justice remains elusive

eighteen years after the attainment of freedom.

The question WHY comes to the fore again 4 reasons The quality of education for poor South Africans leaves much to be desired. A key reason for this is dysfunction

in 80 per cent of schools with teachers often not in class,

not well prepared to teach, and not competent to use the

relevant teaching aids.

The question WHY comes to the fore again 4 reasons Too few South Africans have employment, especially amongst the youth where for 15 to 24 years old the

unemployment rate was 51.3 per cent in 2010 and 29

per cent for the 25 to 34-year-olds. The result is that

more than three million young people between the ages

of 15 and 35 years are not in education, not in

employment and not in training.

The question WHY comes to the fore again 4 reasons Poorly located and inadequate infrastructure perpetuates apartheids racially engineered geographic divisions and limits social inclusion and the rate of

economic growth.

The question WHY comes to the fore again 4 reasons High levels of crime and insecurity, especially amongst poor people who remain excluded from the benefits of

basic public services.

Are we really facing a major national crisis?

Why did he direct his anguish to me?

In some ways, the idiom of the young man - the soil has been stolen best captures the understanding that in a constitutional democracy the citizens are the


It is their sovereignty that is at stake and they need to be

called to action to defend their democracy.

Let us describe this young man in greater detail because

he represents many others who keep the same question

hidden in their anxious minds. Ramphele calls him


Matome has worked hard to qualify as a financial analyst with one of the major companies in the

country. He is a committed patriot who has been

watching the slide of our society into poor

governance, growing social ills such as crime and

insecurity, and unemployment especially among

young people, including those with higher education


The bright future he saw so clearly ten years ago is

becoming dimmer and dimmer.

Let us describe this young man in greater detail because

he represents many others who keep the same question

hidden in their anxious minds. Ramphele calls him


Matome is finding little comfort from his peers who advise him to keep his head down, focus on his

career, and not jeopardise his great prospects of

reaching the very top.

This young man Matome has reason to be depressed and to speak of the assassination of the citizen as the

sovereign of our constitutional democracy.

This book of conversations is a response to this young

man and many other young women and men who are

struggling to understand how their country has come to

this from those heady post-1994 Madiba Magic days.

They see the dream of a prosperous society united in its

diversity in a dynamic democratic order vanishing with

the revelation of each new scandal that makes previous

ones look minor.



Chapter 1 Shifting the ground of reason

Chapter 2 Negotiating culture, traditions and customs

in a democracy

Chapter 3 What system of values are we to live by?

Chapter 4 How do the agreed values cascade into our

governance practices?

Chapter 5 Failure to transform the socio-economic


Chapter 6 Betrayal of future generations

Chapter 7 Are we subjects or citizens?

Chapter 8 Experiments in addressing social pain

Chapter 9 Leadership for completing the transition

If there is a common theme that binds these essays, it is

the failure of the ANC government to live up to its pre-

electoral promise. And on this theme, Ramphele is as

convincing and compelling as readers might hope. After

all, she is uniquely

placed to speak truth to South Africas powers-that-be (Lewis Mash).

A way in which she continues the conversations is

by revisiting some key issues:

The values of our national constitution. Why are there such large gaps between values and


How does a society rebirth itself? What would a transformational journey generational,

political, socio-economic look like?

Conversations touches on every issue under the sun, from corruption to the electoral system; from the

difficulties of mother tongue education to Malema;

from youth unemployment to the problematic heroic nature of South Africas politics.

At times its hard to remember what youre reading about now or what was covered in the previous

chapter, let alone to connect it to what comes next

(Lewis Mash)

Six Selected Readings

1. Page 14

2. Page 16

3. Page 31

4. Page 60

5. Page 82

6. Page 120 Questions