By Gaby Ndongo
This article was first published by Literary Summation
There is a need for few politicians and more people to be involved in the production of goods and services in society, stated Dikgang Moseneke on Monday, 28th August.
“More and more people need to acquire skills that will bring about real fundamental change in society,” Moseneke told students at a UJ APK Library book discussion. “The way to change society is not just being part of a political party and be an integral part of a political movement.”
Moseneke, who is the former Deputy Chief Justice, spoke in response to the fundamental theme of his book, self-liberation, which seeks to better society.
The speaker elucidated on other themes embodied by his book My Own Liberator: A Memoir, which included self- and collective-agency, the paramount role of women in society and the distinguishing characteristics between a politician and a freedom fighter.
Self- and collective agency
Self-agency was defined by the speaker as the life-changing actions one should perform to fulfill a particular objective. This is necessary as “the journey of freedom starts with every single one of ours and in us sit the revolutionaries,” said Moseneke.
What emanates from self-agency is collective-agency. A joint collective effort of change that is based on the understanding of an individual being his own liberator and then joins hand with others in a common goal to accomplish something. Consequently, “we become our own joint liberators,” noted Moseneke.
The centrality of my mother
“Women in our society are underrated by men who are more stupid than women,” Moseneke said, carefully. Nonetheless, he grew up to realise the centrality of his mother, whom raised him with high moral values.
These values were coupled and resulted to the tendency of Moseneke taking good care of himself. It began from the simplest acts of fixing one’s bed, which when the speaker spoke about, he noticed that a number of students became shy.
To exemplify what he said, he used a basic example of a student ensuring that he or she wakes up every morning, attends his or her lectures and tries to understand the content being taught.
He mentioned other activities: from cleaning his own underwear, cleaning the stall and the making of his own tea.
Although the cleaning of the stall may have made the attractive girls not pay much attention to him, the washing of his own underwear alleviated some of the laundry duties the mother had to do and he had developed a propensity of not allowing someone, especially a woman, to make tea for him.
“Here is the point that the book seeks to make: one, the centrality of our mothers in our life. They bring us to earth, they grow us, they impart values into us and they deserve all of our love.”
To further clarify the importance of women in society, he refers to the visit by both his parents when he was in Robben Island for a ten years term.
The father cried after seeing his fifteen years old son whilst the mother’s stoicism provided Moseneke with courage to face the nine and a half year he was left with in prison.
“Every time we preach patriarchy, we are wrong; every time we think that women are available for the taking, we are wrong. They are vital, equal citizens and very important in our lives. We must continue to retain their respect.”
To proof how strong his mother is, the former Deputy Chief Justice noted that “she turned ninety-three yesterday [27th August] and my father died seventeen years ago.”
A politician and a freedom fighter
“If you are a freedom fighter, it is a life time process of trying to make society better,” said Moseneke.
To epitomise his statement, he made reference to Walter Sizulu, who spent twenty-seven years in prison and then occupied no post in government after this term.
This form of behaviour, according to the speaker, shows a high level of dedication, discipline, principles and a protection of the vision of liberation as a cause.
He pointed out that such is necessary as “What was gathered from all the liberation battles was the vitality of the cause, the things that matter and ought to be achieved.”
Nevertheless, “If you become a Politician, I’m not saying all, experience becomes the order of the day and so we try to do what is convenient,” noted Moseneke. In this process, one may forget the cause.
He also emphasised on the importance of freedom fighters, who he synonymised as liberator, in a transitional stage considering that “poor people depend a lot on what the government does.”
This level of dependency, he said, should pressurise the public officials in office to ensure that the basic necessities are provided, which includes education, health and safety for women and children.
Feature image courtesy to Jan Potgieter