A Tribute to George Maanda Negota

SpeechesBy 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  10 May 2017

Salutations to the Negota family, relatives and friends, particularly, condolences to the children.

George: friend, fellow parent and colleague in pursuit of wholesome pan-African goals, your transition to eternity leaves a huge void in our national life. A void matched only by a great legacy. Your family and the nation at large derives solace and comfort from that bountiful legacy.

Your homestead was an essential golden passageway for those who came to Gauteng in search of great pastures from Venda, Limpopo. You gave guidance to starry-eyed professionals and buddying bushy-tailed entrepreneurs as they ventured into this concrete jungle.

You are fondly esteemed as a generous source of seed capital to the up-and-coming, and as sagacious mentorship to the rising.

George commendably straddled a diverse spectrum of society: labour, management and Government. George’s simple elegance and down-to-earth sincerity made him so approachable across the board. Upon its return, the ANC utilised his legal skills in developing and crafting policy. Organised labour consulted him extensively. Managers and senior executives used him as a sounding board. George built bridges between all these national stakeholders and publics.

During your tenure as the President of Black Management Forum, the organisation grew in stature and the number of branches increased observably. Your interactive, pragmatic, and transformative leadership style enriched the culture of the BMF rendering it as humane and humanistic as it was sophisticated and effective.

George was a major resource as the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (NAFCOC) grappled with annulment of restrictive apartheid laws and regulations. George helped lay a solid foundation for latter-day BEE legislation. Truly a pioneer for transformation.

George was a man of great character defined by honesty, elegance, simplicity and good taste. As a matter of stance, George said much in a few words, selected among is thoughts carefully, orderly arranged what he said and spoke with composure.

Probity characterised George in that he behaved in a manner that was essentially beyond reproach. He could have very well chosen to abuse his standing and access political largess for ill-begotten self-enrichment. He instead stood for sheer grit, diligence, personal discipline and dedication to national stewardship. He realised his life ambition. Not a whiff of scandal.

To enunciate what I feel compelled to say about George Maanda Negota allows me to borrow the words of James Mc-Cune Smith, commenting on the success and contributions of Frederick Douglas, a 19th century African-American leader of great stature:

“When a man realises himself from the lowest condition in society to the highest, mankind pays him the tribute to their admiration; when he accomplishes this elevation by native energy, guided by prudence and wisdom, their admiration is increased; but when his course, onward and upward, excellent in itself, furthermore proves possible what had hitherto been regarded as impossible reform then he becomes a shining light on which the aged may look with  gladness, the young with hope, the down-trodden as a representative of what they themselves may become.”

George, to me you epitomised the African in my Dream:

  • An African who is master of his destiny.
  • An African who has a vision.
  • An African who is known for what he stands for.
  • An African who is a profoundly moral being.
  • An African who has integrity.
  • An African who is able and competent.
  • An African who leads a renaissance.
  • An African who takes responsibility for his actions.
  • In you I saw an African who when he looks in the mirror, sees the hand of God.

George: gone too soon. You, however, left a legacy of life packed to the brim with education and bursting at the sims with diverse expertise. You gave credence to our life-long learning and its unquestionable merits.

George: abruptly dimmed, you will continue to be a perennial, luminous lamp pole for posterity that cares to learn from contemporary South African history. Your exemplary life will live on and continue to illuminate the lives of the next generation chasing away impending national darkness.

George: your ethical leadership, your probity and moral authority, will, we pray, impart lingering lessons to an otherwise decadent political economy. The mighty configuration of your achievements renders questionable and hollow the various order conferred by this nation to nakedly lesser contributions.

George: Sorely missed we shall cherish your lingering your national stewardship, your quintessential dedication to nation building.

May the enduring spirit of your unduly brief but abundantly fruitful life continue apace to serve as national compunction, as a force that will relentlessly prick what remaining conscience our political (mis)leadership still has. May your legacy help stop the marauding kleptocracy dead on its tracks. May your spirit urge and encourage South Africans of goodwill to toil without relenting for the restoration and realisation of our beloved country’s gracious respectability.

George: affectionate parent, caring family member, dedicated citizen, educator, upright lawyer and legal advisor, entrepreneur and job creator, and pragmatic leader imbued with moral authority; I personally will miss our friendship, our moments of introspection ad reflection spanning well over three decades.

Fare thee well, esteemed friend.