These are really tough times.
Arguably there are fewer areas in the country where the full scale of the present challenges can be observed as in KwaZulu-Natal. Since the start of Covid-19 and the shutdown that hit one of the primary sectors of the province’s economy, which is tourism, to July 2021 turmoil.
Just as the county was working its way out of those troubles, the catastrophic floods in April of this year caused untold devastation whose full humanitarian, humanitarian and economic impacts are still being recorded, months later.
In times like these, it is easy and perhaps tempting to raise our arms in desperation or to wallow in our own misery helplessly. It’s easy to go to the comment box and just amplify your critical, sarcastic or frustrated voice. There is no “correct” human response to the crises we experience collectively, but their full impact is felt and dealt with individually, and I do not claim to describe one in this contribution.
Yet it is possible, and arguably more beneficial, for all of us to put our shoulders at the wheel in responding to these nagging challenges of our time. If there was ever a time for participation, active citizens, and leadership from everyone in our spaces and spheres of influence, now is the time.
Reimagining the role of traditional leadership
In this environment, the institution of traditional leadership cannot and should not stand on the sidelines, appearing only to issue an occasional lamenting voice about the poor material conditions of the people we lead and our marginal or diminished influence in governance.
This is because traditional leadership in this country derives its legitimacy from its connection with people’s sense of community, history and concepts such as the identity, heritage and roots of many South Africans as these concepts find expression in a modern democratic dynamism, values and rights.
Simply put, in this period of great social influx, it is time to reimagine the role of traditional leadership in the country, by refocusing the institution at the heart of societies and their economic and social development, as well as taking a leadership role in the search for solutions to the crises plaguing our societies.
Only when the importance of traditional leadership in the contemporary context is continually demonstrated through positive, transformative and socially compatible actions will all grumbling and grumbling about our goal of a united and democratic republic.
With thoughts like these biting me for some time now, I began to reflect on my contribution to responding to the economic challenges of the community I lead, the province in which it is located, and indeed the country.
It occurred to me that as traditional leaders today, our contribution to community building should not be limited to establishing community gardens, food aid and charity, or building welfare facilities and the like, as noble and decisive as these are. Today’s crises call for a new generation of traditional leaders.
in Weekly Bulletin in March of last yearPresident Cyril Ramaphosa has described this new breed of leaders as “kings of development” who see themselves “not only as custodians of heritage but also as drivers of economic prosperity and progress”.
The rise of the “developmental king”
Encouragingly, this massive change is already taking place. Certification of the National House of Traditional Leaders and Khoisan on Rural investment master plan Last year is but one example. The contributions of some of my colleagues in the mineral-rich parts of the Northwest deserve appreciation as well.
In all of these efforts by communities and traditional leaders taking the lead in economic development and innovation, it is clear from the village of Fuking in the northwest to the pueblo on the island of New Mexico in the United States, that this part of the winning formula involves harnessing the natural, geographical, historical and cultural riches For our region to build and diversify economic activity.
Within this splendid spot of developmental conception and planning, the latest achievement we have reached as a society must be understood. We as a community, through the Bekezela Community Foundation, They have reached a partnership With the ultimate ocean race for world sailing, the Clipper World Yachting Race. This will see Umhlathuze (Richards Bay) hosting the South African stage of this epic race that sees a fleet of yachts sail around the world, covering 40,000 nautical miles (about 74,000 kilometres) in 11 months.
The race is a major event on the world calendar and was founded by a legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox Johnston who made history in 1969 when he became the first person to circumnavigate the world solo and non-stop. He describes the race as “the only race that is open to non-professional sailors and gives them the opportunity to conquer the seas of Everest, circumnavigating the globe.”
circumnavigating the world; Navigating turbulent domestic economic waters
Having noted with interest the economic and development benefits that current Clipper Race stopover destinations have been able to benefit from, we are convinced that we can do the same for our picturesque region of Umhlathuze, KwaZulu-Natal District, and indeed our country as a whole. The first step was completed as more than 700 diverse crews from all over the world took part in the race in each edition, along with their fans and spectators. The next step is to take them to Umhlathuze for the 2023-24 and 2025-26 editions of the race.
Once they get here, it’s up to us (and we plan) to treat them with the best of South Africa, and the hospitality of KwaZulu-Natal and Ubuntu. It is up to us to build the community excitement and co-host the event, knowing full well that the eyes of the world will be upon this stunningly beautiful gem in an area tucked away on the east coast of our country. Already, that communal enthusiasm is simmering in Umhlathuze.
Through the Ambassadors scheme, the Bekezela Community Foundation is preparing to begin giving locals from rural communities the opportunity to apply to participate in the Clipper Race and receive training to become a crew in this race around the world. This fits with our commitment to restoring, cultivating and protecting African culture and heritage through the promotion, development and empowerment of rural communities.
We honestly can’t wait. Other Clipper Race stops like Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland count the benefits in the millions of pounds in revenue, and at least 600,000 visitors in the 10 years that city has been a host port. We enjoy the opportunity to achieve this and become the preferred stopover destination for the Clipper Race crew, taking full advantage of the coastal economic and cultural activities that our hosting will generate.
Umhlathuze will now stand shoulder to shoulder and be remembered at the same time as other host destinations such as London, New York, Seattle, Punta del Este, Whitsundays, Qingdao, Bermuda and more. IsiZulu expression “nawe Mhlathuze Awumncane” (Mahlauz, you’re actually not the least of all that) Seems fitting.
On a symbolic level, this achievement also underscores the pride and dignity of the community I lead under Eshowe’s traditional Mpungose authority. While the first ships from Europe docked poorly on the shores of South Africa in 17The tenth A century ago, in conditions that would ferociously strip us Africans of our dignity for centuries, today a generous, proud people in control of their own destiny open their ports to commerce, commerce and leisure, their hearts to friendship and brotherhood, on their own terms.
This is what the buzzword “ocean economy” means. This is our small contribution to the consistent realization of the objectives of the South African Reconstruction and Economic Recovery Plan. Most importantly, this is our response to the president’s challenge to traditional leaders that “The most fitting legacy of great leaders is that the seeds of development they sow during their tenure grow into powerful trees that protect and harbor their communities for future generations.”
This is our humble seed. We hope that it will grow into a great tree and protect our societies from the scourge of poverty, unemployment, inequality and backwardness. DM