SA is starved of role models

Professor Bongani Mayosi was a widely respected and well-liked scientist. Photo from UCT

Professor Bongani Mayosi was a widely respected and well-liked scientist. Photo from UCT

What should scare us about the death of Mayosi is that another academic, a leading academic at that, has been lost to us.

The death of Professor Bongani Mayosi should leave a bitter taste in all our mouths because of our silence surrounding the scourge of depression in black society.

It should leave us with our heads bowed in shame because, like HIV/Aids, we have made it almost impossible for those who suffer to seek help.

We are slowly killing our nation because we have created an environment too hostile to help the sick.

What should scare us about the death of Mayosi is that another academic, a leading academic at that, has been lost to us.

In 2017, he was elected to the US National Academy of Medicine. Professor Mayosi published over 300 peer-reviewed academic articles individually and collectively.

He was part of the team which discovered one of the genes responsible for causing the life-threatening heart disease arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia.

This discovery was regarded as one of the most important medical advances in South Africa since the first human heart transplant.

At age 51, we have lost another role model.

As the leadership of the EFF began to rise through the ranks of academia, we applauded. Around graduation season we Facebook like and share photos of graduates who rise against all odds.

But what happens to those graduates after we have made their images trend? Are they well received by industry and employers?

I think of my peers who have graduated with impressive qualifications and yet they soak up the township sun and watch telenovela repeats because our country just cannot accommodate our learned friends.

In light of the learned unemployed, how do we motivate a scholar to recognise that education is the key to an unrestricted future?

The responsibility of guiding our children is the parent’s. We cannot burden the shoulders of strangers with our expectations and needs.

But at the same time, we have no need to keep repelling their requests to be shining examples.

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo.

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