We were pleased with the turnout at the Inaugural FW de Klerk Memorial Lecture, which took place on 11 November 2022 at The Westin Hotel in Cape Town.
It was a pleasure and privilege for the Foundation to have Lord Renwick of Clifton KCMG, former British Ambassador to South Africa, as the keynote speaker at the event and present him with the FW de Klerk Memorial Lecture award on the night.
In his lecture, Lord Renwick shared his personal insights into South Africa’s constitutional transformation, and expressed the need for “another new beginning”.
We would like to thank all the attendees who joined us at the event, as well as those who watched the livestream online.
A heartfelt testimonial from a Bishops teacher who attended with his students:
“My name is Wandile Nzuza, the History/English teacher from Bishops – I attended the FW de Klerk Inaugural Memorial Lecture together with four of my students belonging to the school’s History Society. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you deeply for the opportunity. Firstly, for inviting us to the event, for allowing the exposure of my students to this critical piece of South African history and, significantly, the various figures at the lecture who were policy makers and active agents in those days (such as Glenn Babb and Sam Sterban, amongst many other people). This was the first time my students had really engaged in this type of occasion and did not know what to expect for the most part. Despite this, they rose to the occasion and got themselves into the thick of things by actively engaging with various attendees. They highlight, and so do I, the stories that were shared by various former diplomats regarding their time in the diplomatic service during De Klerk’s time in office.
I cannot express enough in words what an experience it was for myself and the boys. To give you a brief overview of the evening’s proceedings from our perspective:
I arrived a bit after the boys. When I got there, they had already met with Lord Renwick and taken a few photos with various former diplomats and dignitaries. They had not known what to expect and so they were somewhat taken aback by the “height” of the people in attendance, amongst them being the likes of John Steenhuisen, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, Thuli Madonsela, Mandla Mandela, Advocate Oppenheimer, and Helen Zille amongst many others. For your interest, one of my students, not recognising Helen Zille at first, grabbed the same piece of biltong as her at the snacks table. He, however, refused to back down and had a mini-tug of war with Helen Zille over the last piece of biltong on the table! I am told that he came out on top with the bigger piece of biltong. Helen was most amused by this interaction and shared as much in the post-lecture conversation we had.
Amongst many of the people that we met there were many Old Diocesan Scholars in attendance – people who had attended Bishops many years ago. The likes included men such as Dave Steward and his son, former diplomat to Swaziland and Zambia Sam Sterban as well as Glenn Babb. They were most excited to see the boys, obviously recognising their uniform. One of the dignitaries remarked that they were on the receiving end of everyone’s attention because, and I quote, “they [were] the only ones without wrinkles on their faces!”
The talk, in my assessment of the boys, was a resounding success for them in that it achieved its intent: to afford them with the opportunity to attend this event, to learn more about the political history of South Africa as well as promoting an interest in constitutional issues with an aim to make actionable the betterment of South Africa’s future. OD Sam Sterban gave the boys an interesting analogy to the boys on the role of each generation, saying, “Life is like a game of rugby – it is incumbent on each generation to pass the ball onto the next to put them into a better position. We must, at all costs, avoid giving future generations ‘hospital passes’ which place them in a worse position than we were in.”
They spent the remainder of their time networking and connecting, getting the contact details of some of South African history’s most distinguished.
Thank you for this opportunity. The boys had a blast, learnt a lot and so did I. Please continue to share events of this nature with us in future; they are critical to inculcating a critical awareness of South Africa’s political and social landscape in our young men. Please extend our gratitude to Mr Steward and Mrs De Klerk for having us together with a wish to interact with you all again in future in similar settings.