How low have we sunk, former first lady asks as Makgoba trust lecture speaker
The absence of proper values and standing up for what is right have had a negative impact on South Africa, and without proper leadership the moral fibre of society will wither away.
Speaking at the annual Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust Lecture at Rhodes University in Grahamstown last night, former president Nelson Mandela’s widown, Graça Machel, told a packed lecture hall that there were serious dilemmas in South Africa which needed to be dealt with.
She is the also the former first lady of Mozambique.
“We are witnessing more and more brutalities against each other. How low have we come for this to happen in our societies?” the humanitarian and social activist said.
Placing blame partially on poor family values and a lack of moral leadership, Machel detailed shocking statistics of abuse and neglect.
“This is an indication of generations which have no sense of boundaries, no sense of right from wrong,” she said.
“In South Africa, we have three generations of parents who have not been brought up in a structured environment.
“The concept of the village community has been broken,” Machel said, referring to the notion that it takes a village to raise a child.
“South Africa has a crisis because too many families are unstructured – schools alone are failing to be a home for children to learn values.
“Because of this crisis, value systems are under threat.”
According to Machel, there was not enough outrage about incidents happening on a daily basis.
“For example, have we really been outraged about corruption – have we really come out strongly [against it]?
“We talk about it but when it comes to selecting leaders we choose the same ones.
“We tolerate high levels of violence and corruption.
“People say we are normalised to it as part of life – ‘it’s not right but it’s fine’. What kind of society are we with such high levels of tolerance?” she asked.
Machel said it was up to each individual to put pressure on those running our public lives to do better and that leaders needed to realise that with liberation came responsibilities.
“There are imperfections with the older generation but they have led us to the best gift which is freedom.
“I believe one of the most precious attributes of being human is to be free – choose to do good,” she said.
Addressing the issues around free education and the #FeesMustFall movement, Machel said it was important for different structures and groups to listen to each other.
“Don’t destroy infrastructure, don’t destroy libraries.
“If you do this, how can you learn?
“Respect the blood of your parents and grandparents – if it wasn’t for them you wouldn’t have this – [and] think about the younger generation,” she said.
The head of Rhodes Business School, which hosted the talk, Professor Owen Skae, praised Machel for her contributions to the upliftment of society.
“It is amazing to meet someone like [her],” he said.
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe presented last year’s lecture.