LETTER: SA needs the spirit of Maponya
Entrepreneur symbolises what is achievable if you have the courage to follow your dreams
Ntate Richard Maponya’s death has left a void. It has also encouraged deep meditation into the life of a titan, one who influence the country deeply when it was sorely needed and had a lasting effect on so many lives.
He built an empire, despite the oppressive restrictions of apartheid SA, pushed forward by an insuppressible desire to see Soweto, and all of black SA, economically uplifted and empowered. He was driven, always, by service to others, something I believe fuelled him in what was a steep uphill struggle for most of his life.
Ntate was great because he was a rarity. While death is, of course, inevitable, the grief is complete. On a personal level, Maponya was a man I could always rely on. As my mentor he was engaging, challenging and wise. He was also always honest — not something one often encounters in today’s environment and a quality I believe we are collectively poorer without.
On a business level he was MyGrowthFund’s patron and chair of the board — roles he undertook with this characteristic humility and a dose of gravitas. He believed in what we were doing and ensured that our principles guided all actions and decisions. He pushed for greater, bolder, bigger. And he was not a man one wanted to disappoint. He symbolised not only what is possible if you dare to dream, but also what is achievable if you have the courage to follow those dreams. Every South African, irrespective of background, politics or race, can learn and prosper from that.
SA needs the spirit of Maponya now more than ever. Integrity, grit, humility, honesty, courage, self-determination and, of course, brave dreams. The challenges we are facing politically and economically cannot be overcome without introspection. We need to stop waiting for saviours and look to ourselves to set a better course for our country and our families. If we could all access just 10% of Maponya’s spirit we could create a different reality here at home. Nothing is impossible, and we need to know that, now more than ever.
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