Raymond Mhlaba Memorial Lecture



The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University held the annual Raymond Mhlaba Memorial Lecture on September 29 in commemoration of the life and times of former Robben Island political prisoner Comrade Raymond Mhlaba at the University’s South Campus sports centre with former President Kgalema Motlanthe and executive mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay and SAFA CEO Dr Danny Jordaan under the theme A Struggle For Ethical, Transparent and an Accountable Society.

‘’Do not ask of others what you are not prepared to do.’’ – Kgalema Motlanthe

Speaking at the University’s Sports centre, President Kgalema Motlanthe’s address was centred on the topic Pursuit of an Ethical Society in The Context of South Africa and aimed at celebrating the life and times of struggle stalwart and anti-apartheid activist Raymond Mhlaba or Oom Ray as he was affectionally known. The act of giving the lecture, says Motlanthe, was reminiscent of historical imagination.

‘’Do not ask others what you are not prepared to do’’, said Motlanthe.  The series of annual lectures is now in its seventh year and the first inaugural lecture was delivered by former statesman, His Excellency Former President Thabo Mbeki in 2008 and President Zuma followed suit in 2009. Motlanthe became the third President to deliver the keynote address in memory of struggle icon, Raymond Mhlaba.

Mhlaba was a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and later the African National Congress (ANC) and was amongst the infamous Rivonia Treason Trialists who were sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island in 1963. Upon his release in 1989 he was elected to the ANC national executive committee and was elected chairperson of the ANC in 1995.

‘’Many undemocratic societies are likely to be unethical and South Africa is in need of ethical reconstruction,’’ said Motlanthe. He further emphasised that there existed an ethical vaccum in South Africa and it was in a dire need of rehabilitation because the society’s moral core is deeply fractured.

‘’The current ethical ills are rooted in history. Crime is the outward form of a diseased social climate,’’ said Motlanthe.

`He closed his address by saying, ‘’Self-sacrifice is the vehicle for societal regeneration. This is a continuing task ethically and morally defined.’’

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