The Emergence of a Maturing South African Democracy

Pictured planting trees at Liliesleaf are (l-r) Liaqat Azam, Princess Zamaswazi Dlamini Mandela, Sylvester Mashilo, Zuki Mxoli, Ntsiki Sisulu and Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse.

7 December 2021

"Ubuntu is a simple, Big Idea...
Though we differ across cultures and faiths, and
though history has divided rich from poor, free from unfree,
powerful from powerless and race from race,
We are still all branches on the same tree of Humanity" Nelson Mandela
 

Leading like Mandela requires a vision tempered by will and courage to realize that vision. Ma Winnie Madikizela Mandela epitomized that courage and will in the realization of the South Africa that we live in today. She shared the vision of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and was resolute in her determination to overcome the dehumanizing, brutal and cowardly apartheid regime.

As we observe the anniversary of the passing of the Nelson Mandela, on the 5th December 2013 eight years ago, we also observe the “16 Days of Activism” (25 November to 10 December – Moving from Awareness to Accountability) in tribute to the women in our lives. We remember the leadership and activism of African women icons like Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Charlotte Maxeke, the young Nilofer Iman Azam among others for their dedication in the service of humanity.

The physical scars of torture may have healed but the gaping emotional wounds need constant and consistent tending to. The world today is undergoing a global reset, a period of major transformation facing unprecedented challenges in the 21st century. Leaders are grappling with a myriad of these challenges ranging from global health pandemics, poverty, economic inequality, access to quality education and healthcare, civil war, protests and uprisings, dealing with food and water security and the effects of climate change. These challenges require visionary, transformational leadership at all levels of society to attain unity, prosperity and peace in our country, the continent of Africa and across the world.

“Leading Like Mandela” is a leadership development framework program inspired and modelled upon the life and leadership legacy of Nelson Mandela. The program. blessed by Nelson Mandela as its Patron, was conceptualised and developed by Liaqat Azam, an acclaimed leadership and governance consultant who has served as a strategist and advisor to governments and engaged with the world’s most influential thought leaders in the field of leadership, governance and human excellence. Liaqat hails from a respected family of social and political activists in South Africa.

“Leading Like Mandela” officially launched its partnership with the United Nations, the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government (Africa Forum), the Office of the Presidency of South Africa, the Department of Public Service and Administration and various academic institutions during the Nelson Mandela Centenary. This program provides a platform for leadership development, dialogue and research in support of sustainable ddevelopment and in further unleashing the potential of leaders in Africa and the world.

Amina Mohamed Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations highlighted the importance of effective leadership in her keynote address at the launch “We are compelled to reflect on the type of leadership we need in the twenty‑first century. Leadership that will steer us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); leadership that is fearless, selfless, bold yet humble; leadership that models mutual respect, compassion and understanding; leadership that puts people at the centre of its service” she said. She quoted the late Kofi Annan “Mandela’s example is one that all leaders should strive to follow. His legacy, however, is not about finding another Mandela in Africa or elsewhere, instead it is for individual men and women, empowered and dedicated citizens of our world, to take responsibility for our societies. And this, the spirit of Ubuntu, is perhaps the greatest gift that Nelson Mandela bestows. His recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye, that there is oneness to humanity and that by caring for those around us we will find the truth in ourselves.”

“Throughout the ages and in all countries men and women come and go. Some leave nothing behind, not even their name, it is as if they never lived. Others do leave something behind: the haunting memory of the evil deeds they committed against their fellow men. Every time their names are mentioned, feelings of revulsion well up in our hearts. Still others do leave something behind, the good works they do to improve the lives of all people.”
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 21 December 1994

The event was hosted by “Leading Like Mandela” in partnership with the Winnie Madikizela Mandela Remembrance Projects, Women of Wonder, Sylvester Mashilo Foundation and the Nilofer Iman Azam Foundation at the Liliesleaf National Heritage Site and The Hilton Sandton.
 
A tribute read out by the young men of the Sylvestor Mashilo Foundation youth program
 

The Summit commenced with a visit by the dignitaries, esteemed speakers and youth to Liliesleaf National Heritage Site. Three fruit trees were planted at Liliesleaf in honour of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela and the young activist Nilofer Iman Azam, symbolic of their legacies which continue to grow and bear fruit. The tree planting was performed by HRH Princess Zamaswazi Dlamini Mandela, Ntsiki Sisulu, Honourable Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Dr Mpho Phalatse, Dr Liaqat Alli Azam - CEO of “Leading Like Mandela”, Sylvester Mashilo – MD of Sylvester Mashilo Foundation, Evangelist Zuki Mxoli, Nicholas Wolpe of Liliesleaf and Chief Makhanya. The planting of the trees by the granddaughters of Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Walter and Albertina Sisulu, the African National Congress - ANC stalwarts together with the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mayor marks a significant growth in the political maturity of democracy in South Africa. It is a clear indication of the realization of the vision of a united South Africa where a common heritage regardless of race, gender or political affiliation is shared.

The Summit focused upon the importance of effective leadership, drawing upon the legacy of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela, to lead sustainable development and to build a united, prosperous and peaceful city, country and continent. Children and our youth are our future and the importance of investing in their health, education and development was emphasized at the Summit.

The welcome address was delivered by HRH Princess Zamaswazi Dlamini Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela followed by an address by Dr Liaqat Alli Azam on “Leading Like Mandela” and the call for great leaders, conscious leaders who selflessly strive to improve the lives of people, ethical and principle-centered leaders who serve the greater good, transformational leaders who will resolve the challenges we face today and create a better world for all, leaders leading like Mandela.

Ntsiki Sisulu paid tribute to the leadership legacy of her grandparents Walter Sisulu and Albertina Sisulu and called for leaders to act with integrity and ethically, to root out corruption and to honour their position and trust as they serve the nation. Yaseen Valli highlighted the importance of a leader engaging and working in collaboration with society, the need for active citizenry, for business to support sustainable development and to honour women and children. Sylvester Mashilo reminded us of the importance of fathers, men and boys to step up and take responsibility, to honour our women and children and to build a nation through investing in our families.

Mazibuko Seth paid tribute to the power and sacrifices of the youth to effect transformation, the key role youth have played and continue to play in liberation and development, the importance of values based leadership. “It is time now not to throw stones but to gather these and build our nation and country.”

His Majesty King Moremoholo Motebang Mopeli, Bakoena ba Mopeli focused on the importance of upholding our traditional values, respecting our cultural heritage as African leaders, working together and ensuring delivery of effective education, health and services to our women, children and society.

Her Majesty Mafumahadi Mathokoane Mopeli, Queen Mother Bakoena ba Mopeli, addressed the importance of women to lead and to raise a nation of great leaders.

HRH Princess Zamaswazi Dlamini Mandela paid tribute to her grandparents Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela Mandela. Her address drew attention to the importance of remembering and honouring their sacrifices and their gift of our democracy, of continuing their exemplary leadership legacy, to uphold their values, to work together and to touch the lives of our people and the world positively as it is in our hands now.

Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse delivered the keynote address committing to serve the City of Johannesburg and its residents by leading in the footsteps of our first President of our Democracy, Nelson Mandela, the Father of our Nation and Winnie Mandela, the Mother of our Nation.

Nilofer Iman Azam Foundation launched

The Summit paid Special Tribute to a Young Daughter of Africa, Youth Ambassador of “Leading Like Mandela” the late Miss Nilofer Iman Azam, who passed away recently at the age of 19 in a tragic incident. Nilofer Iman engaged and shared platforms with great leaders from diverse walks of life, lending her voice and support to worthy and noble causes. She won the hearts of many with her kind, compassionate and loving nature. She contributed and participated in numerous exhibitions, conferences and seminars promoting the rights of children, women and the underprivileged, holistic health, wellbeing and leadership development.

She represented the youth at the launch of “Leading like Mandela” Leadership Development Program during the Mandela Centenary to promote the development of leadership in the continent and globally and to support the attainment of the global Sustainable Development Goals. This launch was conducted alongside Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina Mohamed, The Presidency of South Africa, Africa Forum and other dignitaries. She participated in the #WalkTogether campaign on Mandela Day with The Elders including Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, Richard Branson, activists, freedom fighters, advocates for social justice and young leaders.

The Nilofer Iman Azam Foundation was officially launched at this Summit to honour and continue her legacy as a beautiful, courageous, loving and gentle Soul, a youth leader and activist for women and the rights of children, world peace, quality education, effective healthcare and protection of our wildlife and the natural environment.

Farzana Mayet delivered the Vote of Thanks with further tributes by delegates, the youth and the closing prayer by Sheikh Mohamed Elhendawi, Head of Al Iman Foundation.

LLM


Tribute to Nilofer Iman Azam by Dr Liaqat Alli Azam

Nilofer Iman, A Beautiful, Courageous, Loving and Gentle Soul, an activist for women and the rights of children, world peace, quality education, effective healthcare and protection of wildlife and the natural environment.

Her name “Nilofer” is Persian for the Lotus Flower, a flower sacred in many religions symbolizing human consciousness, purity of spirit and transcendence of human limitations and “Iman” is Arabic for Faith and Belief.

Nilofer Iman always strove for excellence in all her pursuits, she excelled academically and was a balanced, conscious individual. She participated in sports, had a fine eye for beauty, the arts, loved travel, the outdoors, nature and especially the ocean. She had chosen to study marine biology on her mission to protect the oceans and marine life.

She practiced yoga, gardening and incorporated Ayurveda, herbalism and holistic healing in her health regimen. She was devoted to her worship of God and would spend hours daily in prayer, praying for mankind, creation and planetary healing.

Afflicted with diabetes type 1 at the tender age of 9, having slipped into a coma for four days, she recovered and returned with an even greater resolve to heal herself and the world. She believed that she will be cured as God can Heal all illnesses. She delved deeper into studying healing through nutrition, exercise and the holistic health sciences, learning and applying these practices at her young age to further unleash the power of her mind, body, emotions and Her Soul.

During her lifetime Nilofer Iman had engaged and shared platforms with great leaders from diverse walks of life, lending her voice and support to worthy and noble causes. She won the hearts of many with her kind, compassionate and loving nature.

She participated in numerous exhibitions, conferences and seminars promoting the rights of children, women and the underprivileged, holistic health, wellbeing and leadership development.

Notable moments and contributions include the following:

In 2010 at the age of 8 she led the opening performance of an international conference lit the lamp of hope and delivered a talk to promote natural and integrative medicine and primary health.

She participated at the ages of 9 and 10 in the opening ceremony at an international conference and events to raise institutional support and funding for the Nelson Mandela Children's hospital.

Age 11 she delivered an address at a conference sharing the stage with Ms Graça Machel and former head of UN in Africa, Ms Scholastica Kimaryo in launching “Pride of the Rural Girl”; a program to empower rural girls and young women. She pledged her own allowance to purchase sanitary towels for rural girls.

Age 12 to 14 Nilofer would attend numerous events and campaigns in support of the causes she held dear to her heart and pledged and adopted a Syrian orphan

Age 15 she participated in the unveiling ceremony of the Hope Statue at Nelson Mandela Square with UNICEF on Universal Children's Day. The statue was of a girl child symbolising children’s strength and resilience, their joy, confidence, courage and conviction… qualities that Nilofer embodied.

At 15 she was also the youngest member of “The Sisterhood of the Red Scarves”. Nilofer participated with the “Sisters” including Basetsane Khumalo in the launch to raise funds for sanitary towels and blankets for girls in rural and peri-urban areas in support of the Education of the African Girl Child.
 
Nilofer Iman launching "Leading Like Mandela" with UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohamed, Graça Machel, Mandela and Sisulu Family, The Presidency of South Africa and dignitaries present.
 

In celebration of the Nelson Mandela Centenary Nilofer Iman participated and represented the youth at the launch of “Leading like Mandela” Leadership Development Program to promote the development of leadership in the continent and globally and to support the attainment of the global Sustainable Development Goals. This launch was conducted alongside H.E. Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Ms Amina Mohamed, The Presidency of South Africa, Africa Forum and other dignitaries. She participated in the #WalkTogether campaign on Mandela Day with The Elders including Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, Richard Branson, activists, freedom fighters, advocates for social justice and young leaders.

Age 17 and 18 Nilofer participated in the Launch of the “Mandela Talks” in partnership with the United Nations (UN), Dept. of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), and the Public Service Commission. “Mandela Talks” is a platform for dialogue on matters pertinent to leadership and sustainable development.

She participated in The Green Youth Indaba, a platform for youth to generate solutions to the environmental challenges the world faces. She served as Peer Counsellor at her School for three years.

Age 19: Honoured with an Award for Strength & Courage in Adversity at her School Matric Valediction Ceremony and Woman of Wonder.

Rest Peacefully Our Beloved Nilofer Iman. May God Grant you Eternal Peace… Your Legacy will Continue to Inspire and Uplift. Amen. It is in Our Hands Now

“Our Children are the rock on which our future will be built they are our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country. The creators of our national wealth who will care for and protect our people” Nelson Mandela