The Ratshitanga Family,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Thank you for inviting me to say a few words on this auspicious and triumphant occasion.
The attainment of a PhD marks the highest possible achievement within the domain of education. It stands as evidence of profound resilience; tenacity and intelligence, given the long road taken that must be travelled acquire this post-graduate degree.
Tonight we honour a dear friend, comrade and family member, Dr Tshilidzi Ratshitanga, and celebrate his remarkable achievement.
This degree denotes the third such attainment in his intellectual career, joining a BA Honours in Politics and Development Studies degree from what is now the University of Johannesburg and MPhil in Political Economy from what is now Nelson Mandela University.
It is further bolstered by a Certificate in Public Information and Communication Policy and Management from Wits University, and another in Public Service Change Management from Singapore Civil Service College.
Friends and Comrades;
What is evidenced by the collective efforts of these intellectual undertakings is an interwoven allegiance to informed and dedicated public service that has been demonstrated throughout his career, personal progress and public engagements.
A calling to political engagement has seen him work in the Gauteng Education Department. It has seen him tasked as Deputy Director in Premier Shilowa’s Strategy Unit, and labour as Director and Chief Director at the Government Communication and Information System: a central unit charged with coordinating all official communication on provincial and national levels.
Such a prolonged spell in public service – and ethical conduct therein – has separated such efforts from being simply an occupation. It is clear from Ratshitanga’s presence, steadfastness and utterances that this work has taken on the markings of a vocation.
Outside of the public service, he has been recognised as a leader in South African society. He presently serves as the
- Managing Director of Mitupo Investment Holdings
- Chairman of Bokamoso Trust
- Director of Vuselela Mining
- Director of Rakhoma Mining
- Director of Main Street (Exxaro’s Eyesizwe SVP)
- Director of Samoz LDA and
- Former shareholder of Simeka Group.
Considering the achievement that we celebrate tonight against the backdrop of such taxing involvements further highlights the extraordinary nature of his PhD attainment, and the diligence that underscores his efforts in the political and business realms!
Like many remarkable individuals of his stature, Ratshitanga commenced his leadership journey within the realm of student politics, serving as the Secretary General of COSAS and SASCO.
Inspired by such involvements, he has continued to invest in education – keenly understanding that future South Africa’s growth hinges on assiduous investment in our youth.
Towards these ends, he was central to the creation of the Bokamotso Barona Investment Trust, established for the economic development of SASCO, COSAS and SASPU.
He has consequently distinguished himself as one who keenly understands the quintessential value of giving back to the communities that shaped him and the South African public at large – particularly in terms of youth empowerment.
Ratshitanga astutely comprehends that one of the critical tasks of leaders is nurturing the next generation that stands to take its place.
This was evidenced at the launch of the trust, where he stated:
The liberation movement patiently groomed us and natured our energies and talent towards the correct route of struggle. This was done with the full knowledge that when our elders rich a certain age, they would have to slow down to the pace of their abilities and we the young ones who have been groomed accordingly would have to take over.
It is further captured in the words of Phumzile Mlambo-Ncuka, who at the same launch remarked:
I cannot but carry a sense of that image from Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”, when Almustafa is asked by the people of Orphalese to speak to them about children, and he says: “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”
This is a remarkable image, capturing a sense of legacy and intergenerational commitment that we have towards each other – which have been such a characteristic feature of Ratshitanga’s lifelong exertions.
Tshilidzi, throughout these efforts, you have shown that the doors of learning are never closed to us, upon ascending the levels of educational achievement. There is always more to study, absorb and acquire, that will stand us in good stead as we strive to create a better South African society, founded upon the principles of equality, justice and freedom.
In the echoing words of our foremost leaders, you have displayed an acknowledgement of a factor that leaders across continents and the ages apprehended.
This is the knowledge that:
‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’, as Nelson Mandela told us.
It is the firm belief that:
‘Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today’ – as Malcolm X stated.
And it is the appreciation that:
‘Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity’, as the great philosopher Aristotle wrote.
Congratulations, Tshilidzi, on this outstanding achievement, and yet another feather in your cap!
I wish you even greater success and a profoundly prosperous future.
More power to your elbow!
Thank you for your kind attention.