On the 22nd of November, 2019, the Nelson Mandela Foundation hosted a special conversation between the Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele, and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, facilitated by seasoned media personality, Phemelo Motene. The conversation was a prelude to the 17th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, taking place at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus on the 23rd of November.
Responding to a question on why the theme ‘Constitutionalism as an Instrument for Transformation’ was chosen for this year’s lecture, Prof Ndebele shared the reflections made during the board of trustees’ 2016 strategic planning retreat. With the breadth of diversity that constitutes South Africans, it is important that we use all the opportunities that are available to nurture the conditions of belonging in South Africa, and the constitution is one such instrument. Further, Prof Ndebele went on, The Lecture being in Soweto was symbolic of the need to move the economic centre of gravity from Sandton to Soweto, using the constitution as a vehicle.
The Chief Justice shared the sentiment and added how we, as a nation, need to take every opportunity to inculcate our people on the vision of South Africa held by the constitution so that the people can own it, and mobilize to dignity and freedom for all.
Reflecting on the singular design of the constitution, the Chief Justice went on to reckon with the condition that South Africa is in. “You must be damaged and sick to take from that which was intended for those in need; you must be sick to commit rape even against children.” reflected the Chief Justice. “This sickness undermines the possibilities of this country. The solution to this sickness lies in the constitution” as a seminal document around which South Africans can draw identity, belonging and a commitment to constructively work towards eradicating inequality, corruption and violence.
In closing, the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Chief Executive, Sello Hatang, reflected on the necessity to focus on the structural cause of inequality, corruption and violence, and not be consumed by the personalities animating those institutions. From the insights of the day’s conversation, the 17th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture promises to be an impactful and insightful day of reflection
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