Presented by Vusi at the 2009 ENKE Forum
at Monash South Africa University

(edited from his original presentation)

Vusi is my name. I'm happy to come from the beautiful Valley of 1000 Hills, which we locals call KwaNyuswa. I'm privileged to be a speaker at a gathering of this magnitude. Sanibonani! That's "Hello, everyone!" in my Zulu language.

"Leadership" is one of the most often-written and -discussed subjects. Proponents have written and spoken much about leadership principles that, if I were to focus my talk today on leadership alone, I'd be repeating much of what you already know. So I'll put a personal focus into my talk that demonstrates the essence of leadership as I see it.

Before I go farther, let me thank ENKE and Tom Walsh, its founder, who invited me to share my life experiences, which I call "Vusi’s journey." In hope that, as I relate to you key aspects of my journey, you can sense the heart of leadership that matters most, not only to yourself but to society as whole.

Vusi steps up and promotes leadership at the 2009 ENKE ForumLeadership that matters in the 21st century is not motivated by self but by service to others — something I call "significant leadership." It's significant: (a) because of it's a leadership effort that goes beyond one's self; (b) because it can transform others' lives; and (c) because history will remember its significant contribution and never forget it. You see, it's only natural for history to recognize and remember leadership's significance.

Today, I'll try my best to convey or reveal to you my heart for leadership. I don't want you to simply hear my words and sentences. Instead, I ask you to sense my heartfelt expression for genuine leadership. Hopefully, I'll engage your heart today and transform your life in days to come. I urge you, young people, to listen to my heart as I talk. I'll continue to be an advocate on behalf of the poor, against the many injustices that thrive in this world, and cry out for a leadership based on selflessness, not selfishness.

My father died when I was 3 or 4. Growing up was challenging. While still young, I thought I was the coolest thing in the world. Carelessly, I led a selfish life that soon brought me into a unique learning environment, Durban Westville prison, not as a motivational speaker but as a tried-and-true convict. Continually, I'd find myself in and out prison, numerous times, from age 15 to 24. Eventually, I "graduated" from prison at the age of 24. High voltage,yes I know. Life had been cool but tough.

By 24, my life had been radically transformed. As a result of my transformation, new initiatives have been birthed, nations have been visited, and knowledge has been pursued and gained in an attempt to create a better world.

Young people: There's no denying it. We are history makers! Our time to make history is now! But it will require three essential elements: genuine partnership, selflessness, and love for people. As we Zulu’s say, Umuntu ungumuntu ngabantu. Hoping its meaning isn't lost in translation, that saying suggests, “I am because of you; my life is not complete without my brothers and sisters being around me. If we ignore the cry, we'll all suffer in the long run."

As I close, I'll leave you with a very good question to ask yourself about leadership: Why can't we again see the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and other selfless leaders?

My answer is that there's no leadership principle capable of reproducing the caliber of such leaders because such is reproduced only by "heart impartation." What do I mean by heart impartation? It's the transfer of one's heartbeat and convictions about social justice, which cannot be achieved only by articulating our head knowledge but by imparting our heart's convictions, who we really are and what we believe in. It's not always about what we've learned from leadership books but about who we are and what we can live out on daily basis.

These days, I'm busy writing a book. I'll give you my closing comment, which is something of my personal motto, with the hopes that you'll listen to it carefully and ask yourself if you agree with it, eventually feeling the need to put it into practice. Here it is:

"I don’t know if I can lead people to a place called 'change.' But I know that I will try my very best to lead a life that can lead them to that meaningful change.”
Thank you very much for listening and for taking me and my leadership presentation to heart.

[Vusi Kweyama: July 14, 2009; Monash South Africa, Ruimsig campus]