Dr Lulu Gwagwa speaks at 3rd Archbishop Makgoba Annual Lecture

Read time: 4 mins

The Faculty of Management and Commerce recently hosted its 3rd Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Lecture. Owing to Covid-19 regulations, the event was held virtually – a first for this auspicious event.

Themed: Leadership in Local Economic Development, the lecture is a collaboration between the University of Fort Hare and the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Foundation. 

Since inception in 2018, the event has attracted highly influential guest speakers who are key role players in the economic development sector.  Ms Thokozile Xasa, then Minister of Sport and Recreation spoke at the inaugural lecture and Mr Tembinkosi Bonakele, Commissioner at the SA Competition Commission was the guest speaker at last year’s event.

This year was no exception, as the guest speaker was none other than Dr Lulu Gwagwa – South African’s first black Town Planner and UFH alumna.

Dr Gwagwa describes herself as a “multifaceted woman, an accomplished development planner, academic, business leader, executive coach and philanthropist.”

She is the CEO of Lereko Investment, and one of the principals of the Lereko Metier Capital Growth Fund. She holds a BA from UFH, a Masters in Town and Regional Planning from the University of Natal, an MSc (cum laude) obtained from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She also holds an MPhil from St Augustine College SA and a PhD from the University College London. She is the chairperson of Zutari, and a non-executive director on the boards of Massmart and Afrox.

The session was facilitated by the Dean of Management and Commerce, Dr Ntombovuyo Wayi. Participants included Archbishop Makgoba, his wife Lungi, Bishops from around the country, the UFH community and members of the public.

Delivering the welcoming remarks, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, said the university was honoured to have Dr Gwagwa as the keynote speaker.

“It is a great pleasure that we have gathered again to talk about this topic. This is the third year since we started this series and every year has been a resounding success. Once again, I am confident that with the speaker today, we will have another highly enriching discussion and debate on local economic development.”

“I would like to thank the Archbishop for choosing us as one of the sites for this lecture. It is an honour, because as a university we are not only interested in matters of local development for study or research purposes, we are also an agent of local development ourselves,” said Prof Buhlungu.

The VC’s address was followed by the Archbishop who shared a brief background about the foundation and the partnership formed with SA universities that paved way for the Public Lectures.

“The trust was formed eight years ago with three broad objectives: to educate, provide food security and to promote general development.”

The Public Lectures are held at six SA universities:

  • UFH
  • University of Limpopo,
  • Rhodes University,
  • University of Western Cape
  • University of Mpumalanga
  • And for the first time this year, Walter Sisulu University.

“The aim is to get South Africans talking and to create solutions to our problems, rather than complain all the time. All of us are gifted, all of us are leaders and all of us can bring solutions to the intractable problems faced by this country and the world.”

In her keynote address Dr Gwagwa spoke about the role played by UFH in shaping her career and also the role the institution played in shaping the political and economic landscape of the African continent.

“I am greatly honoured to speak at my alma mater on this platform. When I first entered the gates of UFH in February 1976 I was an impressionable and very naïve 17-year-old. It was a dream come true for me. This institution definitely opened my eyes and my mind.”

“You cannot talk about the liberation of Africa, without speaking about UFH. I am not just talking about Seretse Khama, Nelson Mandela and Phyllis Ntantala. I also talking about religious leaders, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prof Barney Pityana, Business leaders such as Prof Wiseman Nkuhlu and Wendy Luhabe. I am also talking about academics such Prof Loyiso Nongxa and Prof Thoko Mayekiso.  All of them are UFH products that have, and continue to make a big mark in this country, in Africa and globally.”

She also paid a moving tribute to Archbishop Makgoba, quoting from his journey as reflected in his book:  Faith and Courage: Praying with Mandela

“Your story mirrors the history of many black people in South Africa. You came from humble beginnings and managed to walk all the way to the Bishopscourt.”

Dr Gwagwa said reading Makgoba’s story left her with several questions including:

“whether society fully grasps the avalanche of violence that black people endured in this country or are we simply plastering a seeping wound here? Is it possible to really think about the future of South Africa as a nation, if we are not paying enough attention to such deep internalised trauma?”, she challenged the audience.

She thanked the Archbishop for “pricking our conscience and putting this great institution back into central debates of the ordinary people of this continent.”

Click here to watch the recording of the session: