Moseneke liberated himself from self-importance

By Khuthala Nandipha

Justice Dikgang Moseneke delivered an unusually relaxed and colourful address compared to the usual courtroom judgements during the opening ceremony of the Word Festival 2017 (WordFest) at Rhodes University on Monday morning. The ceremony was hosted on the third day of the annual nine-day language, poetry and literature festival.

Moseneke appealed to political and academic leaders to encourage people to find their identities first before embracing diversity.

“Ours is a long journey, our languages are central to what we are, we must write about them, embrace them and then emphasise that finding our origin is not to reject any other persons’. Oppression has made us feel that we have to reduce our self-love so that other people may feel safe about themselves. You cannot self-deny in order to embrace diversity, there is no unity in that,” he spoke with a certain ease during his first WordFest.

He launched his book 'My Own Liberator', a Memoir that traces how he navigated his way into his own liberation. In the book, he makes an interesting correlation about the number 15; his 15-year career as Justice of the Constitutional Court and as Deputy Chief Justice of the country, and that he was the youngest prisoner in Robben Island aged 15.

Now retired, Moseneke has an exuberance paired with a keen sense to share his wisdom with colleagues and young people. “I feel like I am out of a cage, a free bird, getting a chance to interact with our people. I am excited about this journey, I could not resist coming to Grahamstown to see, for one, today’s traditional attires which are outstanding. I love being an African,” he enthused switching from English to isiXhosa.

The judge views the idea of self-love as a representation of a healthy identity, the first step towards self-liberation. “Oppression destroyed our personal urgency, you have to find freedom in your lifetime, seek the things that will liberate you,” he emphasised.

He said that central to freedom is language as it gives insight into a culture, into a people and simultaneously breeds unity and tolerance. He encouraged the youth to seek lifestyle and career avenues that speak to the essence of African people, their original identities.

"Our lives cannot be about political contestation, there is value in other aspects of our lives, being writers, historians, scientists, being innovators.  Someone has to do the hard work because we are not yet Uhuru, far from it”.

His vibrance and frank talk set a tone of pride to the explosive and enchanting affair attended by Moseneke’s colleague, Justice Albie Sachs who also launched his book, 'We the People: Insights of an activist Judge', MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Pemmy Majodina, WodFest convener Professor Chris Mann, Professor Nyameko Pityana, and over 150 artists from across the Eastern Cape.

Wordfest is an outreach project of Rhodes University and is based at the Institute for the Study of English at Rhodes. The decade-long project has featured Nobel prize-winners and provided a platform for at least 100 writers from the eight districts of the Eastern Cape.

Source:  Communications

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