Without champions, SA has no real future 

Government and Justice 

As the new year begins, let it be said loud and clear at the outset that our country needs to develop champions, without whom our nation – in the workplace; in the entertainment world; in politics; in the economy and in all religious sectors, including churches, mosques and temples, among others, will not prosper to reach the firmaments of success unless we produce leaders who are ethically upright. 

If there will be no rearing of champions in all-life’s discipline, progress will be stunted, or at worst, dissipate, and the nation will be worse off, and even experience dearth of progress, or become more directionless, as is presently the case, with many of leaders lacking the capacity to point the nation in the right direction. 

If today the nation fails to produce more of the kind of Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, Chris Hani, Albert Luthuli, Beyers Naude, Trevor Huddleston, Mavuso Msimang, Desmond Tutu and Njongonkulu Ndungane, then “excellence” as represented by mediocrity and loud mouths whose claim to fame is depended on rhetoric, and not backed up by any form of evidence, will thrive.   

The failure by the nation to produce champions in every aspect of life may lead to a human disaster, with less progress, and the failure to realise our full potential as a nation – with our children’s children inheriting a failing world of conflicts and unending disagreements and lack of progress. 

In essence, this is the point the writer of the 255-page book, Raising Champions, Ntsarane Nelson Molapo, is driving home, for us as a nation to ponder, troubled by all kinds of human weaknesses and failures, including the legacy of racism and corruption and violence and crime levels of great proportion invading our country.  

More tellingly, the author kicks off his book by sounding alarm bells, reminding us of who the champion ought to be and who is not. 

In a line he writes: “Some young folks with little ambition have become accustomed to glorifying and celebrating mediocrity in the form of these washed out, one-minute stars that can never make out the difference between fantasy and the real world.” 

This is the crux of the matter, and the message the pages of the book seek to convey, page by page, to the readers, and by extension, to the world. 

Our society, right at the beginning, he contends, has had its foundation built on a false premise.  

First, the oppressors who ran this country since 1948 until 1994 lived in a world of make-believe that they were a divinely anointed race, and the only race entitled to good life, to run the economy and lord it over everyone else whose skin was not like theirs. 

A painful history, it was, which continues to haunt us, and manifests in all spheres of society, including in the church, where crookedness of one form or other continues to rear its ugly head. 

Thirty-years on, after the momentous and celebratory life-changing 1994 event, with the ANC wresting political power from our erstwhile oppressors, the country continues to encounter huge governance difficulties, this because of poor governance, and failure by the communities to seek accountability from those they elect to run their affairs. 

Could it be that the country has failed to produce enough champions, as the author would have wished, to tilt the scales in ways of goodness, we may never know. 

In easy-to-relate township narratives, the author, with great passion tells his story, and shows through narration what it would have taken to raise a nation of champions, that the potential exists but is often missed by the way we, as leaders in the church and elsewhere, have failed to provide sound leadership to take the country where it ought to be – which is a place of success. 

Sadly, he observes in the following words: “Despite the opening up of many facilities to people of all races… hatred and racial intolerance …has never really disappeared.” 

In the final analysis, he adds that if this nation is to reach the pinnacle of its potential, champions are the right people to drive this nation to prosperity, and that we must strive as a nation to identify good and resourceful leaders “to take this country to dizzy heights of success”. 

  • Mdhlela is the acting news editor of Sunday World, an Anglican priest and former editor of the South African Human Rights Commission journals

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