Mamphela Ramphele (Part 2) – Wired for Compassion, Self-Respect & Social Justice: Birthing South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement, Becoming Who We Were Created to Be, and Finding Hope in a World That Has Lost Its Way

Mamphela Ramphele Club of Rome Global Activism

Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, global thought leader, author, medical doctor, scholar, anti-apartheid activist, and co-founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa has lived her extraordinary life guided by the knowing that every one of us is part of an inextricably linked system, and to live life as an authentic human being means assuming responsibility for oneself, others, and the whole web of life. Here, she connects the dots for us in so many ways, telling the remarkable story of how the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa was born with the realization that accepting a second-class identity was only perpetuating apartheid, internally and externally, and right away, the group became aware they needed to bring forth practical manifestations of this new consciousness. Mamphela has worked to do exactly that—bring the values of expanded consciousness into being—her whole life, first as an anti-apartheid activist and doctor, in bimonthly meetings with Nelson Mandela when he was in prison, writing books on social-economic issues in South Africa, and later, working to manifest the values of compassion, dignity, and social justice on a global level as a managing director of the World Bank, co-president of The Club of Rome, and more.

When asked what hurts, Mamphela describes the terrible conditions in South Africa, which she explains could have been averted if post-apartheid leaders had chosen to act for the wellbeing of all rather than getting enmeshed in party politics. And what gives Mamphela hope? The hope she sees in the eyes of young people (and old), and the transformations already underway in small communities. As she says, “the world has lost its way…it’s all about having more rather than being more,” but Mamphela believes real change will happen in the next couple of decades, when our personal, professional, and political lives become framed by the same value system—the values of ubuntu, the traditional, indigenous wisdom values of Africa, which are not only Africa’s heritage but all of ours. Inspiring and enlightening, this conversation is a transmission from a vibrant elder who fully understands and puts into practice what it means to live an authentic, compassionate life, with courage, humor, integrity, and wisdom. Recorded November 9, 2023.

“We need to recognize we are one human family: Europe, America, and MOST of the world—not Europe, America, and the rest of the world.

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • We are wired to be compassionate, wired for self-respect, wired for social justice (01:40)
  • The Global Compassion Coalition and reawakening our basic human compassion (03:44)
  • The personal, professional, and political all have to be governed by the same value system—then we can have wellbeing economics (06:31)
  • What hurts is how we gave away a wonderful opportunity and chose short-term party politics over the true transformation of society (09:04)
  • What brings hope is the hope seen in the eyes of young people—even old people—and that the process of true transformation is underway in small communities (11:39)
  • Ubuntu: living the ethics, principles, and compassion that are embedded in what it means to be human (14:51)
  • The world has lost its way: it’s all about having more rather than being more (16:45) 
  • Assuming responsibility for yourself, others, and the entire web of life is a choice (18:36)
  • It helped a great deal that there was a global anti-establishment movement at the time of Mamphela and her fellow activists’ awakening (21:03)
  • What are Mamphela’s practices to stay centered and keep from being overwhelmed? (22:35)
  • How has Mamphela kept faith in human nature? (29:46)
  • Mamphela’s shift to global activism: channeling energies where it can make a difference (Club of Rome), also modeling to young people that Africans have a rich heritage and their value system matters (33:52)
  • Sustainable ecosystems are sustained by Indigenous Peoples: life is about part of an inextricably linked system (37:03)
  • The need to recognize we are one human family: Europe, America, and MOST of the world—not the “rest of the world” (40:05)
  • “For us to harvest the lessons of nature, we have to become indigenous again;” opening to the great wisdoms of all the ages (40:47)
  • Towards New Narratives of Hope, a recommended publication about the wisdom of Africa—which is everyone’s heritage (see resources below) (41:32)

Resources & References – Part 2

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Mamphela Ramphele Club of Rome Global Activism

Mamphela Ramphele is a world-renowned figure with an outstanding career as an activist, medical doctor, academic, businesswoman, and political thinker. She has been co-president of the Club of Rome, is the co-founder of ReimagineSA, and Chair at the Desmond Tutu IP Trust. Previously, she served as a managing director at the World Bank and as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town. Mamphela obtained a medical degree from the University of Natal in 1968, where she co-founded the Black Consciousness Movement with Steve Biko and became involved in the South African Students Association (SASO). Mamphela has received numerous national and international awards acknowledging her scholarship and leading role in promoting the empowerment of women, youth, and other oppressed people in South Africa and globally, and is the author of several books and publications on socio-economic issues in South Africa.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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