Inaugral Lecture: Professor Leonhard Praeg

24 August 2016

Professor Leonhard Praeg delivered his inaugural lecture on The Pole of Plenitude (Or: Nkandla in Western-Historical Perspective). The Lecture was held at the Eden Grove Blue Lecture Theatre at Rhodes University.

The Vice Chancellor of the University, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, opened the prestigious lecture. The Vice Chancellor began by giving a brief history of Professor Praeg, detailing his childhood in Pretoria and how he was conscripted into the army before he began his studies at Stellenbosch University. He was a soldier in the apartheid defence force and maintains that “Refusal of military service at that time was not a logical nor conceptual choice”. After his service was complete, he then began his education at Stellenbosch University. He has not only lectured at Rhodes University, but at the University of Fort Hare and the University of the Western Cape. His projects have been made up of the Rwandan Genocide and the Ubuntu Project and most recently, the Nkandla project which was a part of the lecture given.

After the introduction, Professor Praeg began his lecture on The Pole of Plenitude (Or: Nkandla in Western-Historical Perspective). He welcomed all of his colleagues and all guests present at the lecture. The Professor explained that the panic in light of the recent Nkandla debacle was not a new one as history has exemplified similar incidents. Incidents that were not coincidence, but rather correlations of those wielding power in their respective communities. The violation of legalism by President Zuma and essentially the law was a mimicry of all those before him.

This mimicry he explains is “a big man’s building project” and he uses the Our Lady of Peace Basilica, Yamoussoukro in Côte d’Ivoire as an example. Before he began with the content of the lecture, he explored the basic principle of pie and the political manifestation of pie. Essentially, “in a world where two people live with each other, the one will beat the other into submission”. This was an important link to his overall argument of mimicry throughout historical building projects.

He broke his lecture up into three components, the fist being foundational principles in politics and therefore human society. The second being the religion of Christianity and the third being the mimicry that transpires of what power is defined.

The first component is the system in which the Greeks rules, which was initially monarchy followed by a two leader system, however they converted back to a man ruler system due to human nature going back to the notion that, in a world where there are two people who have to love with each other, one will beat the other into submission.

The second component was the religion of Christianity and the church follows the law of pie. Essentially bishops would turn on one another as Pope Leo the second as an example wanted all the power and thus had the emperor make him the most powerful pope. Which leads back to human nature and power.

Thirdly, the last component is the replica of St Peter’s cathedral at the Vatican, which the Côte d'Ivoire President Félix Houphouet-Boigny, changed the countries capital too in order to accommodate the structure. It is the largest church in regards to height and square meters, but an exact replica of the St Peters cathedral. Once again this goes back to the notion of power and outdoing the other through mimicry.

Essentially, Nkandla is just that, a mimicry and a “big man’s building project”, which is a clear demonstration of the universality of plenitude. Ultimately resulting in power manifesting itself throughout history and through what is conceptualized as power.

Dr Mabizela, went on to note the fascinating explanation of the logic of pie and with that thanks Professor Praeg for his lecture and asked the crowed for a round of applause.

Last Modified: Thu, 01 Sep 2016 11:40:53 SAST