UFH leadership seminar (4 of 8)

Staying true to one’s values and eradicating pyramids of racial inequality in South Africa should be matters of priority for the country’s future leaders.

This was one of the powerful messages to emerge from a leadership seminar hosted by Fort Hare’s Student Affairs Governance and Leadership unit at the Alice campus on Tuesday.

“When you are authentic and true to your values, people will trust you and do what you say,” guest speaker Nicole Morris, Dean of Students at Kimberley’s Sol Plaatje University, said.

“This approach also helps you to be more mindful and become a better leader.”

True leaders, she added, should not only reflect on their own character but those of others who have been entrusted with leadership.

The seminar, coordinated by Fort Hare alumnus and Director of Shaping New Minds Esethu Sotheni, was aimed at enhancing student leadership skills to cultivate the ethical and caring leaders of tomorrow.

Besides Morris, the presentation panel included Dr Pedro Mzileni, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Free State, and Likihona Peter, another UFH alumnus and researcher from the Parliamentarians Association for Human Rights.

Speaking to the theme, “The role of young leaders in the decolonisation and transformation era in society”, Mzileni explained that black people historically found themselves at the bottom of a pyramid where whites formed the apex.

UFH leadership seminar (4 of 8)

In the middle were what he termed the “subhuman” members of society.

This pyramid structure, he said, was used to dispossess Africans of their land and enslave them.

Colonialism also inculcated in black people a fear of unemployment and, as such, Mzileni argued that they were regarded as nothing more than labourers who had no need for education.

Furthermore, those in power were said to have subjugated Africans by pursuing divide-and-conquer policies that emphasised and exploited their differences.

Peter called on students to participate in leadership programmes offered by the university, saying she owed many of her own successes to such initiatives.

“When I applied for jobs, I was able to show that I had skills others did not have. This gave me an advantage in the job market,’’ she said.

Fort Hare Student Developer Dzulani Mundzelele agreed that such programmes held great value and hoped to see more being made available to students.

These would go a long way in producing excellent leaders for the country, he said.

Following the presentations, students were given an opportunity to ask the panellists questions and raise points relating to leadership currently affecting them at the university.

The seminar will be held annually to develop a strong student body at Fort Hare.