STUDENT LEADERSHIP IS NOT A FULL-TIME CAREER
Professor Somadoda Fikeni says the transient experience of student leadership in South Africa leaves many young leaders in a post university career lull.
The critically acclaimed political analyst and WSU alumnus cautioned students not to be obsessed with titles and roles without thinking about what happens after the morning of having left office.
“We never talk about what should happen after leaving the system,” he said.
Fikeni conscientised the student leaders from various universities that occupying a position does not mean you have displayed leadership qualities.
“The moment you feel the position you occupy benefits you more than you can give to it means that you are not fit for the position. You have become a parasite, and a parasite that does not have a limit often kills its host,” he said.
What is more, Fikeni said what is happening within student leadership structures in South Africa is a reflection of society as a whole.
“We have a societal problem. This problem is not confined to student leadership. When I look at the scale of challenges we have as a society we ought to surround South Africa with a police ribbon because we are a crime scene in essence. If you are not complicit you are indirectly a beneficiary. We differ in degrees of the crimes we commit,” he added.
Fikeni gave thought provoking insight into how our leaders may have gotten themselves and society in trouble.
“We made two critical blunders: We took 1994 as freedom when we ought to have seen it as a lever, if used creatively, could expand into the social and economic spheres where real power lies,” said Fikeni.
Furthermore, he outlined the lack of strategic conversations about the future of South Africa and how what is being implemented now will affect the country in five to ten years’ time.
“That is what we are generally lacking because we like the spectacle. It’s easier for our society to understand personalities and we move with it in a soapie-like excitement which then prevents us from analysing deep structural and systematic issues,” said Fikeni.
Professor Somadoda Fikeni was engaged in discussions at the East London Guild Theatre with various universities’ student leaders who faced leadership challenges.
By: Sinawo Hermans