Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Business Day publishes my article on Richard Maponya

Business Day was kind enough to publish my article on Richard Maponya, which I edited to make it shorter and sharper. You can read the text below or in BusinessLive here. They got my title wrong - I was not an MEC (Member of the Executive Committee of a province) but never mind, hope springs...

Richard Maponya was accorded the rare honour of a state funeral which took place at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. This honour recognises Maponya’s heroic struggle to build his business in the face of the apartheid regime’s putting every conceivable obstacle in his way. 

It was convenient for today's governing party to lionise one of its own to deflect attention from its long history of racist, anti-business rhetoric, summed up in the pejorative epithet ‘white monopoly capital’. 17th century French author and moralist Francois de la Rochefoucauld had a nice way of putting it: “hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue”.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Richard Maponya – will his life lessons be learned?


Attending several of the services commemorating the life of the late Richard Maponya these past few days has been an eye-opener. In often moving tributes, representatives from business, local communities, politics, religion and academia recalled how Ntate Richard Maponya changed their lives for the better during his 99 years.  

Though much was said, there were four recurring themes – family, respect for others, hard work and entrepreneurship. Maponya exemplified bringing them all together in one life, lived with a purpose. He himself worked until the day he died.

But at another level, the services revealed many of the ambiguities and contradictions in our society which are hard to reconcile and how politics invades even the most intimate moments in a nation’s life. The comparative absence of white faces also reminded me, if I needed reminding, of the deep racial cleavages still dividing our society.

Maponya, a South African and more pointedly a black business titan, was accorded the unprecedented honour of a state funeral which took place at the UJ Soweto Campus. It is convenient for the governing party to lionise one of its own to deflect attention from its long history of racist, anti-business rhetoric, summed up in the epithet ‘white monopoly capital’.