NATHANIEL LEE | Each one of us must search, find our unique intelligence

Eusebius McKaiser, the South African analyst, braodcaster and author who passed on this month was a revered intellectual thanks to his knack for reading and debating.
Eusebius McKaiser, the South African analyst, braodcaster and author who passed on this month was a revered intellectual thanks to his knack for reading and debating.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The burial of renowned broadcaster and political analyst, Eusebius McKaiser, on Saturday brings to silence one of the most illustrious voices within the South African intellectual landscape.

McKaiser was described by his employers as an “intellectual rock star”, who made his mark with his no-holds-barred and incisive political analysis. For McKaiser, a “no-go area” was a foreign concept. He ventured where angels feared to tread by questioning the existence of God.

In the aftermath of the KZN floods, he wrote an article for TimesLIVE in which he argued that if God existed, he or she would have prevented the hundreds of deaths that occurred. In a recent podcast where he was commenting on Prince Mashele and the saga around the publication of Herman Mashaba’s biography, McKaiser made a comment that Mashele, in trying to wriggle his way out of the controversy, was attempting to square a circle. He further stated that this was not possible even for Jesus Christ, if ever he existed, he added.

May his soul rest in peace.

It should be remembered that 14 years before he succumbed to his assailant’s bullet in 1980, The Beatles frontman, John Lennon, remarked in 1966 that the popular band was more popular than Christ. His assailant, Mark David Chapman, cited Lennon’s 1966 comment for pumping four bullets into his back.

It later transpired that Chapman was jealous and enraged by Lennon’s lifestyle. It seems controversy is not far from those we regard as intelligent. Mashele, another political analyst who shoots from the hip with strident commentary, especially against the governing party, was caught in a controversy when Sunday Times revealed that ActionSA leader Mashaba had paid him R12m to write his biography.

Mashele did not disclose this to the publishers and tried to pass off the book as an unauthorised biography. The publishers have since discontinued the publication of the book. In the book, Mashele apparently likens Mashaba to Steve Biko, which places the book in the realm of a hagiography. It can only be hoped that Mashele will bounce back from this reputational dent and continue to offer piercing analysis we have become accustomed to.

This would be unlike what transpired with Eugene Nyathi, who was the darling of television screens in the 90s. He was shamed into oblivion when he was discovered to have embellished his academic credentials. He barely had a matric but was able to dupe the Mpumalanga Development Corporation to appoint him as a consultant at R15,000 an hour.

The Nyathi debacle in particular, provokes the question as to what is the link between education and intelligence. Does being uneducated mean unintelligent? Certainly not because the two terms are complimentary as in two sides of the same coin.

Intelligence is dependent on factors such as upbringing, genetics, environment, and, of course, access to education. It relates to the overall potential or capacity to understand things. What is important to realise is that intelligence is not a fixed state but requires the sharpening of the mind through activities such as reading, writing and travel.

On the other hand, education is where knowledge, skills and talents are processed through experience, training and research. Through the education process, intelligence can be optimised. There are various types of intelligence, which include logical intelligence, which relates to the ability to calculate and reason.

Linguistic intelligence has to do with possessing a rich vocabulary and a fluid language acquisition device that enables an easy grasp of languages. There is also visual/spatial intelligence, which refers to individuals who find it easy to see and understand pictures of art. These are the artistic geniuses.

To sum up the link between education and intelligence, it can be said that while education is a tool, intelligence is character. It has to be emphasised that everybody has some form of intelligence as it covers a broad spectrum.

Intelligence without education is akin to an engine without fuel. It is incumbent upon all South Africans to search and discover their unique intelligence and use education opportunities to maximise their potential to make a meaningful impact on society.