28 October 2021

In her welcoming note, UMP Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso mentioned that the University has an ambitious vision: To be an African University leading in creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation. “This vision would never be achieved if we do not place ethics and morality at the centre of our being as the University of Mpumalanga,” she said.

Moral and ethical leadership is sought among our staff and students. Our leaders, and the South African community as a whole are expected to demonstrate courageous leadership during challenging times. The conviction that ethical and moral leadership would bring about a vastly improved world remains deep within all of us.”

Professor Mayekiso further mentioned that staff and students often leave from the lecture highly inspired and motivated to pursue ethics and morality in their leadership – unstintingly and relentlessly.

“One of our values at the university is integrity, which we describe as follows: At all times in all situations the actions and interactions of the University will be characterised by undeviating honesty, by utmost fairness, caring for one another as fellow human beings, and treating one another with utmost respect.

“The message to the UMP community is that the value of embracing ethics is as follows: Apply ethics in every aspect of your life to attain respect and trust of others. Keep in mind the values this institution represents, and act with integrity and honesty at all times when representing the University of Mpumalanga. Together, we can achieve great results.”

In his address, keynote speaker, Dr Tshikwatamba tied in well with what the Vice-Chancellor mentioned during the opening and indicated that he grew up quite conscientized and politicized by the views expressed by different leaders in the African Continent. The leaders such as Kenneth Kaunda, the President of Zambia after that country was liberated from colonial and imperialistic conquest in 1964; Julius Nyerere of Tanzania after independence in 1961; Samora Machel of Mozambique after independence in 1975; Sam Nujuma of Namibia as the country became independent in 1990; and Kwame Nkrumah after Ghana became independent in 1957. 


African Humanism and the Pan African Theory
Dr Tshikwatamba said that when Kenneth Kaunda took over Zambia as the President, he led the technocrats and bureaucrats to develop socio economic plans as well as policy frameworks.  These plans were to move Zambia as a nation forward in a different development trajectory, which was influenced by African Humanisms and the Pan African theory. 

“Whilst different plans were being developed, Kaunda however mentioned that the development of the country shouldn’t become more important than the people whom these plans are made for.  He provided solid moral ground to the entire nation under the notion of African humanism and united more than seven hundreds ethnic groups into the slogan one Zambia one nation." 

Dr Tshikwatamba said Kaunda wanted to moralize and ethicalise the entire society earlier, which lacks in society today, children being moralized and ethicalised from a young age. An even greater concern is that together with that, we do not have what could be called a South African Moral Code.   

“There is no South African Code of Morality which has been written down and can be implemented in schools and various other places of interaction at an earlier stage."

Kaunda’s African humanism was a political philosophy that embraces traditional African values parallel to Western values. Zambian humanism places the human being above economic and materialistic interests,” he says.

Dr Tshikwatamba said that African humanisms can be equated to Ubuntu but the humanism approach is more detailed. People should be moralised earlier as “people” before they become public servants or public sector workers. In Africa, moral values were transmitted through proverbs, songs, poems as well as idioms and what could be interpreted to be “once upon a time discussions/stories” that parents always made use of before bedtime.”  

He continues: “Africans were moralised to respect elders and those who do so, find it easier to respect work place hierarchies and seniority. A need exists to determine if these are still sufficient in the 4thIndustrial Revolution (4IR). In our quest for development, we must not forget who we are and where we come from. We must come back to the core and the essence of what makes up to be part of the human society and provide ethical and moral grounds early as people before individuals can affiliate into professional bodies for ethical discourse.”

Dr Tshikwatamba made special mention of his appreciation of the University’s value system and that, whether you are a staff member or a student, you are moralised from the moment you enter the University’s space by virtue of the values which have been put in place. 

“It does not even matter where you are coming from or where you are going, but when you enter the University they say to you – here – these are our values.” And thus, in doing so, the University is promoting moral and ethical ways of doing things.

The dichotomy between the theory and the practice of ethical and moral issues is, he says, is that there are people who are ethicalised, but they are not moralized. And in most of these instances, it is simply because moral issues were not imparted to them earlier in their lives. “And you begin to realize that, if we do not moralize people earlier, we set them up for failure.”

In addressing this issue, Dr Tshikwatamba goes back to his own childhood and demonstrated how earlier methods of moralisation were used to teach children from a young age on how they should behave and relate with various sections of the community. 

Ujamaa and the theory of self-reliance
Dr Tshikwatamba indicated that similar to African humanism is Ujamaa, the Swahili word for brotherhood and familyhood which included extended family. Ujamaa was a social and economic policy developed and implemented in Tanzania by erstwhile president Julius Nyerere. Based on the idea of collective farming and the "villagization" of the countryside, ujamaa also called for the nationalization of banks and industry and an increased level of self-reliance at both an individual and national level. 

“Nyerere argued that urbanization, which had been brought about by European colonialism and was economically driven by wage labour, had disrupted the traditional pre-colonial rural African society. He believed that it was possible for his government to recreate pre-colonial traditions in Tanzania and, in turn, re-establish a traditional level of mutual respect and return the people to the correct moral ways of life,” he continues.

“The principle of Ujamaa was based on the ideal for socialism since Nyerere was an African Socialist and the frontline leaders accepted socialism at the time as an African philosophy.  The familyhood principle can be traced on the 12thrules for the written Code for the Builder of Communism which relates to the “Mutual respect in the family, and care for the upbringing of the children”.  


When speaking of the need for a moral code, which has been written down, by which we as people might live, Dr Tshikwatamba used the 10 commandments as well as some aspects of the communist manifesto as examples to which we might look for answers. The intention of God was to moralise the people early through the Ten Commandments as much as the Builders for Communism had the same intention.  

“On self-reliance, Julius Nyerere encouraged Tanzanians to rely on the resources available in their country than to depend on foreign aid. Self-reliance was equated with self-sufficiency, a necessary condition that is stated in the “Manifesto to build the good society”. 

The principle of self-reliance carried the people of Tanzania from one generation to the other to an extent that although the population of Tanzania is almost equal to the South African population, the unemployment rate of Tanzania stands at 2.16% while the one for South stands at 33.3% according to the 2020 statistical analysis.”

The philosophy of Kwame Nkrumah was also cited by Dr Tshikwatamba and indicated that it was based on Consciencism and was meant to conscientized Africans to be conscious of who they are and understand their state of being in every situation. 

“Consciencism theory was the philosophy and ideology to decolonise not only the African continent but Africans as people. Reference was made to simplify the “Consciencism theory” that could simply be translated to the level of consciousness that is often determined by the state of being African and act and behave in an African manner. After 1990, the roads and streets in Namibia were renamed after African leaders in order to promote African identity and African human dignity and “Consciencism theory” was inherent in the process in order to decolonise the people of Namibia and to promote African humanism. 

In conclusion, Dr Tshikwatamba showed a video of Hargeisa city of Somaliland where people exchanged money on the streets. The people of Somaliland would go and pray in the temple and leave stacks of money on the streets without fear that it will be stolen or looted. 

“It is not the high rate of unemployment that necessarily cause people to steal or loot but the lack of moral ingredients. The higher the people are moralised, the higher the level of discipline, the lower the people are moralised the higher the level of corruption and theft,” he said.

The lecture was concluded with the announcement of the winner of the student essay competition, Bachelor of Science Degree student Sithabile Vinolia Moyo. “I’m happy about winning and feel very proud. Winning this competition showed me that I might have a chance of being a great writer one day. When I saw the post about the competition, I got excited because I saw an opportunity to talk about how our University has not just implemented integrity on campus but we as students have also took it and lived by it,” she said. 

@ By Lisa Thabethe. Pictures by ChrisplPhoto.