African leaders must ask themselves whether they are promoting peace or self-interest: Mogae

Festus Mogae
Festus Mogae
Image: Master Mosunkutu

Former Botswana president Festus Mogae says African leaders should ask themselves whether they are promoting peace or have departed from the values of ubuntu and acquired a selfish character that encourages self-interest.

He was a keynote speaker during the annual Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus on Saturday.

This year marks 50 years since Luthuli‚ the longest serving ANC president‚ died under mysterious circumstances on July 21 1967.

Mogae described Luthuli as one of the “historic and heroic figures in Africa’s political history” whose major strategy “was peaceful resistance and a passionate belief in peaceful co-existence of people‚ communities and nations”.

He said Luthuli’s values should continue to be the lodestar of African leadership today.

“Chief Luthuli bequeathed to us a tradition of tolerance‚ love‚ mutual respect‚ multiracialism and above all peaceful settlement of differences in all spheres of life. He remains not only an inspiration to African leaders‚ but also a symbol of peace upon which we should reflect and from which we should learn.”

He said Luthuli was an effective and impactful leader who believed in peaceful co-existence‚ social harmony‚ freedom and equality before the law.

“The question that arises for us who received peace as the most powerful tool from Chief Albert Luthuli and others like Nelson Mandela‚ is whether or not‚ as African leader of today we are promoting peace and leading peaceful communities and societies.

“In other words‚ are treating the peaceful character of African leadership and forefathers sacredly and respectfully or have we departed from the values of ubuntu and acquired the individualistic and selfish character that encourages a culture of exclusive self-interest which contradicts the African communal personality?

“Is this why throughout the continent‚ families‚ communities and nations are tearing each other apart like Cain killing his brother Abel?”

Mogae‚ who is the current chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the Implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan‚ said Luthuli was a “distinguished man of peace” whose voice could not be drowned by the oppressor.

“In winning the Nobel Peace Prize‚ it testified to Chief Luthuli’s long commitment to peaceful resolution of differences.”