The young leaders have an emotional meeting with Desmond Tutu and are warned of the pitfalls of leading in Africa.
Each of the 25 top African professionals who have arrived in Cape Town for a leadership retreat have their own idea of what the continent needs from their generation of leaders.
They have been inspired by heroic examples to serve society. But they are about to encounter heavy responsibilities and tough soul-searching on the road to great leadership.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Africa needs to know more about itself and more about the world. Africa needs interconnectedness.
In this episode of Tutu’s Children, the course participants are told to trade counters in a mock marketplace.The young leaders compete to make a profit, but the three hour-long game is not about trading at all. The real aim is to expose their attitudes to power and privilege.
The golden rule is that you must hold hands to negotiate. Even if you do not go through with a deal, you must keep holding hands until the end of the round.
But rules are made to be broken!
For Dr Allen Zimbler, an expert in the psychology of organisations, their response to injustice offers unexpected insights.
He says that it is very interesting that both representatives came in asking for reasonable changes in the rules.
“I hope that at least you will remember [from] this exercise when you are one day hopefully in positions of power how hard it is to make decisions from a position of power,” says Zimbler.
The responsibility that comes with power now dawns on them.
As a visit to their celebrated patron, Archbishop Tutu, approaches, the young leaders meet one of his comrades from the days of South Africa’s black empowerment struggle.
I am always thrilled to see leadership development programmes, but this is one with a difference which is that values-driven leadership style. And I know that the people who follow this training are going to make a difference in the various countries they go to.
Anti-apartheid activism earned Dr Mamphela Rampele banishment, imprisonment, and the death in police custody of her partner, leading activist Steve Biko.
Although it has been two decades since the triumph of democracy, she fears that unless young Africans become politicised once again, some of the gains of her generation will go to waste.
And she is here with her sister to reach out to the young leaders for help, to overcome a new age of disempowerment.
Quiet Rwandan entrepreneur Lydie – a somewhat reluctant leader – relates to her message. Believing that her country’s saving grace since the genocide has been the president’s move to foster citizenship.
“It takes the vision of one person I think, again I’ll say it, to have that, to stand for it and have others follow. And I think it is up to us to really decide what we want to do, right from leaving this place. What will we do when we go back?” explains Lydie.
“Coming from woundedness and dignity and that’s what we’re trying to do in Rwanda. We’ve got this horrible history but let’s forget about it, not forget but let’s move on and think about how do we create that sense of dignity.”
Lydie’s family was devastated by the loss of 30 aunts, uncles and cousins in the genocide. She finds the call to help Africans move on from the painful past intensely moving; it is what first drove her to go into business.
Finally the day arrives when the group meets their Nobel prize-winning patron – Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a man who without ever holding political office has inspired generations with his fearless advocacy of social justice across Africa and far beyond.
The mentors hope meeting Tutu will be a major turning point – transforming socially-minded businessmen and professionals into servant-leaders completely dedicated to Africa’s success.
But even before they get there, and beyond anyone’s expectations, the meeting with Tutu brings out more emotional insights.
We really need to put the people of Africa, African children, women or men at the heart of whatever policies we are trying to do.
The legendary 81-year-old comes out of his office to greet each of them personally.
“Sweeties, you have been given this fellowship because it is believed that you are people who can make a difference. Allow old men like us to go to our graves smiling.”
As Tutu shares his thoughts, one of the young leaders, Amy Jadesimi, is quietly on the brink of emotion. Amy breaks down and tells him that when she heard him speak: “That had a profound effect on me because it was the beginning of me recovering my self-respect as a black person.”
Elected to speak on the group’s behalf, Ndumiso makes the archbishop a pledge.
“We promise that even though you want to be allowed to go to rest in peace, the dream that you and your compatriots had will live on longer and we share the same dream.”
And on a cool April morning in Cape Town, Desmond Tutu passes on the duty of Africa’s moral leadership to 25 very different people. Great things are now expected of them.
The morning after meeting Archbishop Tutu there is a noticeable change in the air