Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to translate fear by acting in pursuit of something more important than your fear.
This was uttered by Advocate Thuli Madonsela, outgoing SA Public Protector, during the DUT Courageous Leadership Conference at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Durban ICC. The two-day conference which kicked off this morning (Thursday, 25 August 2016) ends tomorrow, 26 August 2017.
Adv. Madonsela delivered her keynote address via Skype due to another pressing commitment. In attendance at the two-day conference are other high profile guests such as Prof Ahmed Bawa, Universities South Africa CEO and former DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal; Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation at the University of the Free State; Dr Jairam Reddy, DUT Council Chairman, Dr John Volmink, Interim Vice-Chancellor at DUT and Eric Apelgren, International Relations Head in the eThekwini Municipality, to name but a few.
Adv. Madonsela said everything rises and falls on leadership, adding that everyone in an organisation must lead from their respective differentiated leadership roles. “Everything begins and ends with leadership. As it is, we are facing difficult challenges” she said. “For leadership, we also need to have an element of courage. In reference to courage, courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to translate fear by acting in pursuit of something more important than your fear, for example, the actions of the women who marched to the Union Buildings 60 years ago in protest against the pass laws,” she said. Adv. Madonsela also spoke about the ability of leadership to embrace vulnerability as well as the possibility of criticism.
Giving more insight into what makes leadership compatible with democracy was Dr Reddy, who said that to prevent the perpetuation of the same people in positions of leadership, accountability of leaders to other citizens needed to be emphasized and the accumulation of privilege needed to be minimised.