Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician-General of South Africa and former head of Statistics South Africa. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi
Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician-General of South Africa and former head of Statistics South Africa. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi

SA is choosing to destroy legacies on a grand scale, says Pali Lehohla

By Pali Lehohla Time of article published Dec 5, 2021

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IT IS said “it takes a village to grow and develop a child” this couldn’t be more true for our country, it will take all sectors of the economy to come together and develop “this child”(country) if we want to see “this child”(country) grow.

The title of the lecture is beautiful for learning however it comes with sorrow, to imagine that after so many years of inclusivity articles written by government and all forms of policy written, we still find ourselves having to explain the importance of inclusivity in any sector. With that being said, who better has shown the nation that its possible other than Saul Gumede himself, to contribute to the development of a sector from its roots, trunk and branches.

Today the real estate sector stands like Baobab tree in representation of a stature of the man himself Gumede. Mrs Gumede and family let me thank you for lending the life of your your husband, father, protector to South Africa and the world and turning him into the property of property.

Gumede’s life multifaceted as it has been can selfishly be defined as one of property of property.

For the last thirty-six years Gumede has been breathing, eating, and sleeping property. The current challenges that confront South Africa suggest that legacies are multifaceted and they have to be worked upon. In South Africa today deliberately or otherwise we are moving on a grand scale to destroy or choose not to protect legacies.

But in the case of Gumede whilst challenges abound for instance in the property portfolio that he helped built in Bophuthatswana the scale of destruction is immeasurable and so his legacy is being destroyed in front of his very eyes. Whilst alive.

The question is what do we choose? What South Africa through its systematic destruction of property, rail, buildings, memory and history is real Benoni in action.

The question that remains is who will kill us as a generation that is destructive. What South Africa also exhibits is an African widow syndrome. Once the great husband was gone, the Nelson Mandela of our times and other stalwarts, we remain like widows who should accept their fate for the great man is gone. Livelihoods are gone.

Hope is a prisoner of memory. He who loses memory is lost. The 367 years of struggle in good part are about the constant effort by the colonising force to erase the memory of Africans. This is a permanent global racism project of colonialism and neo-colonialism. It is about erasing memories of the colonised.

In the just under a generation of South Africa’s freedom, the project of erasure of memory is in high gear and is assisted by the newly liberated as they acquiesce to the economic tantrums of the neo-liberalism of capital. Bling, riches and hankering after tenders showed their most ugly physiognomy at the height of the pandemic. But even before then, the erasure of Winnie Mandela home of banishment in Brandfort has banished this historic monument into a distant memory. The Mandela’s house in Vilakazi’s street has been threatened with auctioning a number of times, whilst his Houghton House is now a hotel.

Robben Island has often been under constant threat and barely survives. These theatres of struggle and monuments of public service run the risk of commercialisation and becoming transactional items for capital. When memory is commodified and transacted through market forces, it gets perverted and allows strange behaviours to emerge.

These tendencies are not reflective of the nation’s struggles. But memory is a strange phenomenon. This is because the mind does not stop asking. However much attempts to destroying memory are made, it only affords to bury memory deeper in the people’s DNA, and allows space for deeper. A vile a sip at a time world without end describes our national psyche. This is an edited version of the inaugural Saul Gumede Annual Lecture delivered by Pali Lehohla.

Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician-General of South Africa and former head of Statistics South Africa. Meet him at and @Palilj01.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites.


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