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Pregs Govender

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Love and Courage: Inciting Insubordination

Here is the The 2008 Julius Nyerere Lecture on Lifelong Learning speech I gave at the University of the Western Cape earlier this week.

Love and Courage: Inciting Insubordination

Thank you to the University of the Western Cape for ensuring that we do not forget a great teacher – Julius Nyerere. I am deeply honoured to present this year’s lecture. Thank you to Shirley Walters and all the staff of DLL for making today a gift for each guest here today – with music, poetry and flowers. Thank you to the UWC choir for the music and to Malika Ndlovu for a beautiful poem – may every one of us experience the generosity of spirit that moves you.

In honouring Julius Nyerere today I remembered that the highest form of praise is not to put those we honour on a pedestal – to turn them into saints or gods – but to understand and learn from their example. It is too easy to turn those we respect into saints or gods gilding over the lessons we could learn from their weaknesses and the effort they made to develop themselves.

The best teachers, like Nyerere, know that you do not ‘develop people’ as if they are empty vessels waiting to be filled with your wisdom or clay to be molded into the image you wish to carve out. The best teachers create the conditions in which people ‘develop themselves’, in which we recognize our own power and our beauty. Great teachers help us to develop the tools of analysis and understanding but it is through our own efforts that we reach clarity. It is through our own practice of the values they embody that we develop our own commitment to those values.

Those who claim ownership of the world’s wealth are a handful of people yet they are able to rule the world and to assert their values of greed, hate and fear as paramount. Directly through the International Financial Institutions such as the International Monetary Bank and the World Bank as well as through their ownership and sponsorship of media and educational institutions this small group has been able to rationalize their actions notwithstanding that these have increased war and conflict and inequality between the obscenely wealthy and the desperately poor. It is not surprising that the UN report Women, War and Peace, draws a clear link between the militarization of society and the increased levels of violence against women on the streets, across borders and in homes. Countries at war and countries emerging from a war reflect the same tragic statistics. From the United States to Iraq, from Zimbabwe to Israel and Palestine, to our own country, women share the same story of gendered violence.

 

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