An Accomplished Wholesome Life Deserving Celebration and Institutionalisation

Address by Dr Reuel J. Khoza (Chairman of Nedbank Group Limited, Aka Capital  and author of several books including Let Africa Lead and Attuned Leadership) to “Nedbank Group Technology Leaders”  I  26 June 2012

  1. An Octogenarian: Born 08/08/1934
    Resilience, perseverance, diligent pursuit of life, endurance, survivalist, accomplishment-driven.2. Character Traits
    “Education is anything that we do for the purpose of taking advantage of the experience of someone else.” Lyman Bryson2.1 Curiosity, an enquiring mind:  going beyond the three R’s of conventional education:  Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic: photography …  Genesis.
    2.2 Budding entrepreneurship: KNP photographer.
    2.3 Resistance to oppression: Escape from farm slavery.
    2.4 Gardening at Henningham – a stepping stone to high school education.
    2.5 Progression to hotel job: stepping stone to perfecting photography under Patrick Rikhotso.
    2.6 Chelsea Hotel stint:  reading The Rand Daily Mail focus on Alister Sparks – photojournalism.
    2.7 Restless mind – insatiable thirst for knowledge and self-upliftment: bus trip article to The World: budding journalist – full-blooded photojournalist.  “He who stops being better stops being good” Oliver Cromwell.3. Defining Moment:  16 June 1976
    Photographing: fatally wounded Hector Pieterson (12) in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhubo, next to Antoinette Pieterson (17), cnr Molema & Vilakazi Str, Orlando West, Soweto, near Phefeni High School. Picture = 1000 words:  capturing an epoch defining moment in one snap shot.  Significance of ONE PHOTOGRAPH by ONE SAM NZIMA.

There can be no gainsaying that this Hector Pieterson photograph was a major contributor to the tipping point in the history of apartheid. A thematic apperception test given to any South African – any human being would evoke questions like:

  • This Apartheid System – did things have to come to this?
  • Did refusal to use Afrikaans as a medium by those who saw it as a language of the oppressor, have to result in this tragedy, the agony written all over Mbuyisa Makhubo’s face; the painful questioning  and insistence for a humane answers all over Antoinette Pieteson’s face.
  • Why Lord, why Africa, why Humanity ...?

All these and many more questions are evoked by a glance at ONE PHOTOGRAPH by ONE Sam Nzima.

One key question flowing from this heart-wrenching photograph is what was the Apartheid system in essence? In my humble opinion:

  • Apartheid was politics of discrimination, oppression and suppression.
  • Apartheid was economics of exclusion and exploitation.
  • Apartheid was social psychology of mental mutilation and manipulation designed to tame, contain and harness blacks to do the white man’s bidding.

Sam Nzima captured all this in ONE PHOTOGRAPH that went viral in the 70’s world without social media.

It pains those of us who care about and view with reverence, Sam Nzima, to know that the publishing world refused Sam his rightful copyright to the Hector Pieterson photograph for over two decades. Following a lengthy battle, assisted by a law firm, Nzima received the copyright for his world famous photograph 22 years later.

In recognition of his contribution to photojournalism and placing the brutality of the Apartheid police in sharp focus, the State President, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, conferred Masana Samuel “Sam” Nzima, with the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze on 27 April 2011.

My only question in this regard is why bronze and not gold?

Well we, and fairer people the world over believe you deserve much better recognition and homage for your achievements and exemplary life in four score years / eight decades. We salute you! We celebrate your life. We fervently believe you should be institutionalised. You should be immortalised. You are fully deserving of a photojournalists foundation or institute bearing your name.

The Hector Pieterson photograph marks a pinnacle in your photojournalism journey from painfully humble beginnings. It is a defining article in South Africa’s tipping point from Apartheid to Democracy. It is a mark of distinction and excellence in your life of diligence and dedication.

Of this Aristotle would say:
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation, we do not act rightly because we have virtue of excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit”.

Eighty and soldiering on in pursuit of excellence. Bravo Masana Samuel “Sam” Nzima!! Hina Makhosa, va Mavone Ja vo vona kule, hi ri Kongoma Mtukullu wa Va Mahumula hi ku etlela.

Hi ba rikofu, hi ba riphokophoko, Ha giya ha Hangella. Nzima!