full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Lindiwe Mazibuko: Why the African diaspora is crucial to the continent's future

Unscramble the Blue Letters

So, I'm here to recruit you. (Laughter) But not in the sense that you're thinking. I know I'm a politician. I'll save that for another day. I'm here to try and encourage you to take up a leadership role in public service in your country and on your continent. I'm here to convince you that your country and your continent need you - not later, not when you're oledr and more experienced, but now - and that whether you realize it or not, your country's politics are going to be deoomd to fail unless you're willing to get ielvnvod right now. So my reutncmiret pcith comes with a single disclaimer: I resigned from public office 18 mhtnos ago. (Laughter) I did it in order to take stock of my time in office, to think about the work that I had done, to capacitate myself with skills, knowledge, cnatocts, allies and experiences, and to find a little bit of personal and professional perspective. It's one of the best decisions I think I've ever made. I imagine that some time during the next 18 minutes while I'm pitching you, you're going to think, "Yeah, it's easy for you to say I should go into public service. You've already done it and you've left." But I hope I'll be able to convince you that, in fact, we all find ourselves in exactly the same boat right now. Because being outside of politics for 18 months has reminded me just how itrnaompt it is and just how much the political landscapes in my country and in your countries and on our continent are truly lknacig in good leadership and political talent. So, I want to make a deal with you. I'm not going to return to active ptlciios unless you come with me. (Laughter) I'm not going to do it alone. I won't go back unless I can cnocvnie smart, entrepreneurial, highly skilled, talented, experienced young acainfrs like yourselves and millions more like you across the continent, that the best chance that our countries have, not just for survival but for lasting prosperity, is if our most talented citizens step forward and make themselves available, either for political party, leadership or for public service and government. So over the next 16-or-so minutes that are remaining, I'm going to alternately flatter you, as I just have, (Laughter) I'm going to challenge you, I'm going to talk to you about my experiences, about a couple of facts and figures; I may even fghrtein you a little bit. And it'll be entirely wroth it if that fear convinces you of the urgency of the point in history that we find ourselves in today. Everything I say toady will be in service of a single objective: convincing you, showing you, that your countries need you; that Africa's prosperity may depend on many things - entrepreneurialism, iaitudsrnl development, health reform, social upliftment - but that all of these hinge upon the success of politics and gvreonment in our countries. I can't begin a talk about public service, of course, without honoring my former president Nelson Mandela, the father of democratic South Africa. (Cheers) (apauslpe) President Mandela passed away on this day in 2013. I really believe that when the people of my country look back on the day that he passed away, it'll be seen as an inflection point in South Africa's history. The day we decided whether we could, indeed, go it alone without him. What's written in those history books will depend entirely on whether this generation, which includes all of you sitting in this room, recognizes that the time has come for us to take up the work that President Mandela left for us, before that work is captured by people who would use power and politics for empty vanity and proesanl gain. I'm referring, of course, to the young man who was here in lnodon this very past week. Defiling the name of the vsaironiy leader, the intellectual and political strategist, the formidable athlete, the Prince of the Abathembu nation who served as a South Africa's first democratic pirenesdt. The young man who tried to taint President Mandela's legacy with a few throwaway lines, all in service of getting chaep headlines, which he got. People like this, who we leave public service to when we stay out of the fray of public service, are the roasen your country and my coutrny needs you and needs us. So let us begin. I want to first talk to you about the African diaspora. You may have heard about a study in 2013 that revealed that cash transfers from Africans lnviig outside of the continent have now begun to exceed donor aid from figreon countries into Africa. (Applause) In 2012, total remittances to Africa stood at 60 billion dlarlos while in the same year, official development aid to Sub-Saharan Africa totalled 44.6 billion by corsoiampn. Now, this got me thinking. If we can do such great work with our money from outside of Africa, what can we do with our slliks, our talent, our experiences, our education and our passion for our countries and for our continent? I've spent the past semester at the Harvard Kennedy School as a fellow at the Institute of Politics. I ran a seminar which was called "How to build a dmecroacy? Lessons from South Africa." It was also about Zimbabwe and Malawi. And it wasn't intended to make it seem like we got everything right in South Africa, but it was asking the critical question: Now that we have this legacy of peaceful transition, of constitutionalism, of difficult negotiations, which were very, very difficultly gotten, are we going to be successful in erhnecnintg that democracy and making it last into the future? Now, one of the benefits of being an aricafn in an academic snitteg like New eglannd is that other African students reach out to you, they want to talk to you, and many of them exsreps to you their desire to enter public service. So I had students knocking down my door, wanting to talk to me in office huors about the fact that they have Ghanean parents but they were born in Texas. They really wanted to give back to Ghana, but they're afraid that if they go home, nobody will take them seriously as real Africans. I had students who said they had families, wives, cherldin, husbands, partners to take care of, perhaps they were better off staying in the uetnid States and providing for their feaiilms back home rather than going back and getting into public service. This got me thinking about the question of skills remittance, of talent remittance, of social and political remittance. If these young people have the passion to give back to their communities mltairenoy, imagine how different our politics would be if those same skills, icnlefnue, leadership, talent were put at work in srceive of the public good. And that ileduncs all of you in this room because many of you are also part of the diaspora. I'm here to recruit you. I'm here to make a deal with you. I'm not going back unless I take you with me. (Laugther) Now, I know that most of you, if not the vast majority of you, are completely fed up, turned off, discouraged, disgusted by politics, either in your country, in this country, all over the wlrod. Perhaps you are dgceoiursad by the fact that grvmnneoets are slow to deliver. Perhaps they're inefficient. Perhaps they are thoroughly corrupt and rotten to the core. Perhaps they're responsible for conflicts that have claimed levis and livelihoods in the countries from which you come. So why would you sink your time and your energies into such a csmmoeporid system? One of the most powerful analyses of conflict, inefficiency, corruption, stagnation which I've etcnoeeunrd in recent months is the question of a political economy. There is a reason that our governments are not performing as they should. It's not just because of a flriaue within the stsyem. Consider the political economy of conflict and corruption in your own country. Why is it so difficult to ormevcoe? Who is making money or aamsisng power because things don't work the way they should? Where does the back stop? Who has an incentive to keep the system dysfunctional? And how can we work together to overcome their toatl ifniceton of the system, to ensure that we don't lose our grip on the very pnpilcire of democratic governance? The answer, I'm afraid, because you were born into this political time, is spmily by taking over - you have to get involved. There's no way around it. You have to join pitiocall organizations in numbers large enough to influence change from within. You have to actively seek to take up a leadership role in government, in the satte, in the public service and deltfy but decisively move its priorities to where they should be: not in the service of people who want to amass pwoer and money for themselves, but to better the lives of the highest number of people. There will always be government, whether we like it or not, whether we find it palatable or not. But there won't always be democracy. If we irnoge politics, the people who have been quietly lobbying our governments to prioritize development ahead of democracy, these are the people who will have their way, and the smsytes that we now take for granted will dissolve before our eyes. When I was campaigning in sotuh Africa last year for the 2014 general election, the voter registration numbers looked a little bit like this, six months before the election: 23% of potential voters in the 18-to-19-year-old age group were registered to vote. In the age group 20 to 29 years old, 55% were registered. And from 30 upwards, the number vieard from 79 to 100%; in fact, there were more people aged 80 and over who were registered than were in the census numbers in South Africa. Imagine that. Fully 100% of ppoele over a certain age consider voting to be an indispensable right, 21 years into democracy, and do not shirk their responsibility to register and turn out at the polls. But in the 18-to-19-year-old age group - and we must remember 19 is the average age on our continent; 26 is the agareve age in South Africa - the number is 23% to 55%. What's the political ecoomny of veotr apathy? Who benefits when we stay out of the system? Who gets to keep the status quo and empower themselves and enrich themselves and continue to infect our political system like a cancer. Who bnkas by us continuing with the status quo? Now even as I say all of this to you, that your country and your continent need you to enter public service, I know that if you take up my challenge, you're going to face huge amounts of resistance - all because of these political economies that I have just described. I did. I was told that I was too young. I was too female. (ltahuegr) I didn't have enough experience though no one could define what experience was enough. I had too much of a wihte accent; I wasn't a real African. I siaehrtgetnd my hair and wore weaves; I wasn't a real African. We should be honest about the things that hold people back from entering public service - humiliation, degradation; it's not an easy road - but all of these things should illustrate to you the extent to which the status quo is deingsed to enrich and epoewmr a few at the expense of the many, and it should irampt to you the urgency of you, as a generation, of now getting involved in public service to change that very culture. And if you decide to enter public service, you may even be tempted to believe some of these cmiiriscts. They're designed to keep you out; that's how gatekeeping works. Somebody is benefiting from the acesnbe of excellence and disruption in politics and government. But these are caenlhgles that have to be faced on. There is no other route; there is no wishing this away. They are the reason that your country and your continent need you. We have this thing in politics in Africa; it's claled the "big man." The cult of personality - we've all heard different terminologies for it. In South Africa, in particular, this entails waiting for a gerat person to come and save us from ourselves. Currently, we're waiting for Cyril rshpmaoaa or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or [inaudible] to come and save South aircfa from itself, to save us from the mess that we find ourselves in that perhaps another big man put us in. But how can a single personality be held responsible for building or for rniunng a whole nation? And where do we turn when they fail? If we haven't cultivated any kind of pipeline of energetic, young people who wanted to eentr public service now or in the future and, critically, who can do the job better, are we doomed to always have to choose between mediocrity and ego, and mieorictdy and ego? Is that it? Is that all our government will ever be? Or worse: Are we going to snatd by while presidents change constitutions so they can serve a third term and a fourth term and a fifth term, claiming that three million people signed a petition stating that they are the only prseon who can do the job? (Laughter) (Applause) Is that what we'll do? Now, there's a new energy around entrepreneurism and innovation and growth in Africa today. But that erngey isn't going to translate into lasting prosperity unless we get our politics right. Political leaders who are gatekeepers of the status quo will claim that any success is their success. They'll centralize power, and they'll damend that we all be grateful for those little geern shoots of achievement, and then they'll cilam that nobody else can do the job. They'll argue that development must come first, ferdoem can come later, and that they are the best benevolent dictator to do the job. They'll take your political voice from you when times are a little bit good, and when times go bad, they will refuse to give it back. There is no prrpsetioy for our continent without a vibrant, diverse, and truly competitive politics, founded upon excellence, transparency and commitment to the public good. Our politics will not have any of these qaetuliis unless talented, yonug people, the best people, step forward at this mneomt in Africa's history, when we're emerging from that stereotype of the dark continent, the hopeless cnotnniet, and commit themselves to pbuilc service. We must run for office. We must work in the ciivl service. We must disrupt the political stuats quo. We must prevent the rush to the btotom. You really are the ones that you have been wnatiig for. There are no great svaiors waiting somewhere in the wings to save us from future problems. There's nobody who is waiting in the wgins to come and save us from ourselves; there's just us. And I'm not going back without you. (Laughter) So, will you take up the challenge? Thank you. (Cheers) (Applause)

Open Cloze

So, I'm here to recruit you. (Laughter) But not in the sense that you're thinking. I know I'm a politician. I'll save that for another day. I'm here to try and encourage you to take up a leadership role in public service in your country and on your continent. I'm here to convince you that your country and your continent need you - not later, not when you're _____ and more experienced, but now - and that whether you realize it or not, your country's politics are going to be ______ to fail unless you're willing to get ________ right now. So my ___________ _____ comes with a single disclaimer: I resigned from public office 18 ______ ago. (Laughter) I did it in order to take stock of my time in office, to think about the work that I had done, to capacitate myself with skills, knowledge, ________, allies and experiences, and to find a little bit of personal and professional perspective. It's one of the best decisions I think I've ever made. I imagine that some time during the next 18 minutes while I'm pitching you, you're going to think, "Yeah, it's easy for you to say I should go into public service. You've already done it and you've left." But I hope I'll be able to convince you that, in fact, we all find ourselves in exactly the same boat right now. Because being outside of politics for 18 months has reminded me just how _________ it is and just how much the political landscapes in my country and in your countries and on our continent are truly _______ in good leadership and political talent. So, I want to make a deal with you. I'm not going to return to active ________ unless you come with me. (Laughter) I'm not going to do it alone. I won't go back unless I can ________ smart, entrepreneurial, highly skilled, talented, experienced young ________ like yourselves and millions more like you across the continent, that the best chance that our countries have, not just for survival but for lasting prosperity, is if our most talented citizens step forward and make themselves available, either for political party, leadership or for public service and government. So over the next 16-or-so minutes that are remaining, I'm going to alternately flatter you, as I just have, (Laughter) I'm going to challenge you, I'm going to talk to you about my experiences, about a couple of facts and figures; I may even ________ you a little bit. And it'll be entirely _____ it if that fear convinces you of the urgency of the point in history that we find ourselves in today. Everything I say _____ will be in service of a single objective: convincing you, showing you, that your countries need you; that Africa's prosperity may depend on many things - entrepreneurialism, __________ development, health reform, social upliftment - but that all of these hinge upon the success of politics and __________ in our countries. I can't begin a talk about public service, of course, without honoring my former president Nelson Mandela, the father of democratic South Africa. (Cheers) (________) President Mandela passed away on this day in 2013. I really believe that when the people of my country look back on the day that he passed away, it'll be seen as an inflection point in South Africa's history. The day we decided whether we could, indeed, go it alone without him. What's written in those history books will depend entirely on whether this generation, which includes all of you sitting in this room, recognizes that the time has come for us to take up the work that President Mandela left for us, before that work is captured by people who would use power and politics for empty vanity and ________ gain. I'm referring, of course, to the young man who was here in ______ this very past week. Defiling the name of the _________ leader, the intellectual and political strategist, the formidable athlete, the Prince of the Abathembu nation who served as a South Africa's first democratic _________. The young man who tried to taint President Mandela's legacy with a few throwaway lines, all in service of getting _____ headlines, which he got. People like this, who we leave public service to when we stay out of the fray of public service, are the ______ your country and my _______ needs you and needs us. So let us begin. I want to first talk to you about the African diaspora. You may have heard about a study in 2013 that revealed that cash transfers from Africans ______ outside of the continent have now begun to exceed donor aid from _______ countries into Africa. (Applause) In 2012, total remittances to Africa stood at 60 billion _______ while in the same year, official development aid to Sub-Saharan Africa totalled 44.6 billion by __________. Now, this got me thinking. If we can do such great work with our money from outside of Africa, what can we do with our ______, our talent, our experiences, our education and our passion for our countries and for our continent? I've spent the past semester at the Harvard Kennedy School as a fellow at the Institute of Politics. I ran a seminar which was called "How to build a _________? Lessons from South Africa." It was also about Zimbabwe and Malawi. And it wasn't intended to make it seem like we got everything right in South Africa, but it was asking the critical question: Now that we have this legacy of peaceful transition, of constitutionalism, of difficult negotiations, which were very, very difficultly gotten, are we going to be successful in ___________ that democracy and making it last into the future? Now, one of the benefits of being an _______ in an academic _______ like New _______ is that other African students reach out to you, they want to talk to you, and many of them _______ to you their desire to enter public service. So I had students knocking down my door, wanting to talk to me in office _____ about the fact that they have Ghanean parents but they were born in Texas. They really wanted to give back to Ghana, but they're afraid that if they go home, nobody will take them seriously as real Africans. I had students who said they had families, wives, ________, husbands, partners to take care of, perhaps they were better off staying in the ______ States and providing for their ________ back home rather than going back and getting into public service. This got me thinking about the question of skills remittance, of talent remittance, of social and political remittance. If these young people have the passion to give back to their communities __________, imagine how different our politics would be if those same skills, _________, leadership, talent were put at work in _______ of the public good. And that ________ all of you in this room because many of you are also part of the diaspora. I'm here to recruit you. I'm here to make a deal with you. I'm not going back unless I take you with me. (Laugther) Now, I know that most of you, if not the vast majority of you, are completely fed up, turned off, discouraged, disgusted by politics, either in your country, in this country, all over the _____. Perhaps you are ___________ by the fact that ___________ are slow to deliver. Perhaps they're inefficient. Perhaps they are thoroughly corrupt and rotten to the core. Perhaps they're responsible for conflicts that have claimed _____ and livelihoods in the countries from which you come. So why would you sink your time and your energies into such a ___________ system? One of the most powerful analyses of conflict, inefficiency, corruption, stagnation which I've ___________ in recent months is the question of a political economy. There is a reason that our governments are not performing as they should. It's not just because of a _______ within the ______. Consider the political economy of conflict and corruption in your own country. Why is it so difficult to ________? Who is making money or ________ power because things don't work the way they should? Where does the back stop? Who has an incentive to keep the system dysfunctional? And how can we work together to overcome their _____ _________ of the system, to ensure that we don't lose our grip on the very _________ of democratic governance? The answer, I'm afraid, because you were born into this political time, is ______ by taking over - you have to get involved. There's no way around it. You have to join _________ organizations in numbers large enough to influence change from within. You have to actively seek to take up a leadership role in government, in the _____, in the public service and ______ but decisively move its priorities to where they should be: not in the service of people who want to amass _____ and money for themselves, but to better the lives of the highest number of people. There will always be government, whether we like it or not, whether we find it palatable or not. But there won't always be democracy. If we ______ politics, the people who have been quietly lobbying our governments to prioritize development ahead of democracy, these are the people who will have their way, and the _______ that we now take for granted will dissolve before our eyes. When I was campaigning in _____ Africa last year for the 2014 general election, the voter registration numbers looked a little bit like this, six months before the election: 23% of potential voters in the 18-to-19-year-old age group were registered to vote. In the age group 20 to 29 years old, 55% were registered. And from 30 upwards, the number ______ from 79 to 100%; in fact, there were more people aged 80 and over who were registered than were in the census numbers in South Africa. Imagine that. Fully 100% of ______ over a certain age consider voting to be an indispensable right, 21 years into democracy, and do not shirk their responsibility to register and turn out at the polls. But in the 18-to-19-year-old age group - and we must remember 19 is the average age on our continent; 26 is the _______ age in South Africa - the number is 23% to 55%. What's the political _______ of _____ apathy? Who benefits when we stay out of the system? Who gets to keep the status quo and empower themselves and enrich themselves and continue to infect our political system like a cancer. Who _____ by us continuing with the status quo? Now even as I say all of this to you, that your country and your continent need you to enter public service, I know that if you take up my challenge, you're going to face huge amounts of resistance - all because of these political economies that I have just described. I did. I was told that I was too young. I was too female. (________) I didn't have enough experience though no one could define what experience was enough. I had too much of a _____ accent; I wasn't a real African. I ____________ my hair and wore weaves; I wasn't a real African. We should be honest about the things that hold people back from entering public service - humiliation, degradation; it's not an easy road - but all of these things should illustrate to you the extent to which the status quo is ________ to enrich and _______ a few at the expense of the many, and it should ______ to you the urgency of you, as a generation, of now getting involved in public service to change that very culture. And if you decide to enter public service, you may even be tempted to believe some of these __________. They're designed to keep you out; that's how gatekeeping works. Somebody is benefiting from the _______ of excellence and disruption in politics and government. But these are __________ that have to be faced on. There is no other route; there is no wishing this away. They are the reason that your country and your continent need you. We have this thing in politics in Africa; it's ______ the "big man." The cult of personality - we've all heard different terminologies for it. In South Africa, in particular, this entails waiting for a _____ person to come and save us from ourselves. Currently, we're waiting for Cyril _________ or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or [inaudible] to come and save South ______ from itself, to save us from the mess that we find ourselves in that perhaps another big man put us in. But how can a single personality be held responsible for building or for _______ a whole nation? And where do we turn when they fail? If we haven't cultivated any kind of pipeline of energetic, young people who wanted to _____ public service now or in the future and, critically, who can do the job better, are we doomed to always have to choose between mediocrity and ego, and __________ and ego? Is that it? Is that all our government will ever be? Or worse: Are we going to _____ by while presidents change constitutions so they can serve a third term and a fourth term and a fifth term, claiming that three million people signed a petition stating that they are the only ______ who can do the job? (Laughter) (Applause) Is that what we'll do? Now, there's a new energy around entrepreneurism and innovation and growth in Africa today. But that ______ isn't going to translate into lasting prosperity unless we get our politics right. Political leaders who are gatekeepers of the status quo will claim that any success is their success. They'll centralize power, and they'll ______ that we all be grateful for those little _____ shoots of achievement, and then they'll _____ that nobody else can do the job. They'll argue that development must come first, _______ can come later, and that they are the best benevolent dictator to do the job. They'll take your political voice from you when times are a little bit good, and when times go bad, they will refuse to give it back. There is no __________ for our continent without a vibrant, diverse, and truly competitive politics, founded upon excellence, transparency and commitment to the public good. Our politics will not have any of these _________ unless talented, _____ people, the best people, step forward at this ______ in Africa's history, when we're emerging from that stereotype of the dark continent, the hopeless _________, and commit themselves to ______ service. We must run for office. We must work in the _____ service. We must disrupt the political ______ quo. We must prevent the rush to the ______. You really are the ones that you have been _______ for. There are no great _______ waiting somewhere in the wings to save us from future problems. There's nobody who is waiting in the _____ to come and save us from ourselves; there's just us. And I'm not going back without you. (Laughter) So, will you take up the challenge? Thank you. (Cheers) (Applause)

Solution

  1. lacking
  2. includes
  3. deftly
  4. worth
  5. children
  6. varied
  7. straightened
  8. qualities
  9. industrial
  10. empower
  11. challenges
  12. reason
  13. personal
  14. average
  15. africans
  16. impart
  17. principle
  18. infection
  19. prosperity
  20. hours
  21. designed
  22. amassing
  23. setting
  24. frighten
  25. energy
  26. banks
  27. recruitment
  28. express
  29. convince
  30. country
  31. older
  32. politics
  33. months
  34. claim
  35. criticisms
  36. south
  37. democracy
  38. today
  39. pitch
  40. enter
  41. great
  42. overcome
  43. failure
  44. african
  45. mediocrity
  46. governments
  47. stand
  48. continent
  49. england
  50. total
  51. cheap
  52. compromised
  53. systems
  54. white
  55. civil
  56. president
  57. doomed
  58. skills
  59. green
  60. running
  61. economy
  62. bottom
  63. important
  64. laughter
  65. foreign
  66. person
  67. people
  68. entrenching
  69. involved
  70. freedom
  71. saviors
  72. encountered
  73. living
  74. system
  75. status
  76. comparison
  77. visionary
  78. government
  79. contacts
  80. world
  81. service
  82. voter
  83. power
  84. discouraged
  85. africa
  86. monetarily
  87. applause
  88. wings
  89. absence
  90. public
  91. families
  92. dollars
  93. waiting
  94. young
  95. ignore
  96. united
  97. ramaphosa
  98. moment
  99. state
  100. demand
  101. lives
  102. called
  103. london
  104. influence
  105. simply
  106. political

Original Text

So, I'm here to recruit you. (Laughter) But not in the sense that you're thinking. I know I'm a politician. I'll save that for another day. I'm here to try and encourage you to take up a leadership role in public service in your country and on your continent. I'm here to convince you that your country and your continent need you - not later, not when you're older and more experienced, but now - and that whether you realize it or not, your country's politics are going to be doomed to fail unless you're willing to get involved right now. So my recruitment pitch comes with a single disclaimer: I resigned from public office 18 months ago. (Laughter) I did it in order to take stock of my time in office, to think about the work that I had done, to capacitate myself with skills, knowledge, contacts, allies and experiences, and to find a little bit of personal and professional perspective. It's one of the best decisions I think I've ever made. I imagine that some time during the next 18 minutes while I'm pitching you, you're going to think, "Yeah, it's easy for you to say I should go into public service. You've already done it and you've left." But I hope I'll be able to convince you that, in fact, we all find ourselves in exactly the same boat right now. Because being outside of politics for 18 months has reminded me just how important it is and just how much the political landscapes in my country and in your countries and on our continent are truly lacking in good leadership and political talent. So, I want to make a deal with you. I'm not going to return to active politics unless you come with me. (Laughter) I'm not going to do it alone. I won't go back unless I can convince smart, entrepreneurial, highly skilled, talented, experienced young Africans like yourselves and millions more like you across the continent, that the best chance that our countries have, not just for survival but for lasting prosperity, is if our most talented citizens step forward and make themselves available, either for political party, leadership or for public service and government. So over the next 16-or-so minutes that are remaining, I'm going to alternately flatter you, as I just have, (Laughter) I'm going to challenge you, I'm going to talk to you about my experiences, about a couple of facts and figures; I may even frighten you a little bit. And it'll be entirely worth it if that fear convinces you of the urgency of the point in history that we find ourselves in today. Everything I say today will be in service of a single objective: convincing you, showing you, that your countries need you; that Africa's prosperity may depend on many things - entrepreneurialism, industrial development, health reform, social upliftment - but that all of these hinge upon the success of politics and government in our countries. I can't begin a talk about public service, of course, without honoring my former president Nelson Mandela, the father of democratic South Africa. (Cheers) (Applause) President Mandela passed away on this day in 2013. I really believe that when the people of my country look back on the day that he passed away, it'll be seen as an inflection point in South Africa's history. The day we decided whether we could, indeed, go it alone without him. What's written in those history books will depend entirely on whether this generation, which includes all of you sitting in this room, recognizes that the time has come for us to take up the work that President Mandela left for us, before that work is captured by people who would use power and politics for empty vanity and personal gain. I'm referring, of course, to the young man who was here in London this very past week. Defiling the name of the visionary leader, the intellectual and political strategist, the formidable athlete, the Prince of the Abathembu nation who served as a South Africa's first democratic president. The young man who tried to taint President Mandela's legacy with a few throwaway lines, all in service of getting cheap headlines, which he got. People like this, who we leave public service to when we stay out of the fray of public service, are the reason your country and my country needs you and needs us. So let us begin. I want to first talk to you about the African diaspora. You may have heard about a study in 2013 that revealed that cash transfers from Africans living outside of the continent have now begun to exceed donor aid from foreign countries into Africa. (Applause) In 2012, total remittances to Africa stood at 60 billion dollars while in the same year, official development aid to Sub-Saharan Africa totalled 44.6 billion by comparison. Now, this got me thinking. If we can do such great work with our money from outside of Africa, what can we do with our skills, our talent, our experiences, our education and our passion for our countries and for our continent? I've spent the past semester at the Harvard Kennedy School as a fellow at the Institute of Politics. I ran a seminar which was called "How to build a democracy? Lessons from South Africa." It was also about Zimbabwe and Malawi. And it wasn't intended to make it seem like we got everything right in South Africa, but it was asking the critical question: Now that we have this legacy of peaceful transition, of constitutionalism, of difficult negotiations, which were very, very difficultly gotten, are we going to be successful in entrenching that democracy and making it last into the future? Now, one of the benefits of being an African in an academic setting like New England is that other African students reach out to you, they want to talk to you, and many of them express to you their desire to enter public service. So I had students knocking down my door, wanting to talk to me in office hours about the fact that they have Ghanean parents but they were born in Texas. They really wanted to give back to Ghana, but they're afraid that if they go home, nobody will take them seriously as real Africans. I had students who said they had families, wives, children, husbands, partners to take care of, perhaps they were better off staying in the United States and providing for their families back home rather than going back and getting into public service. This got me thinking about the question of skills remittance, of talent remittance, of social and political remittance. If these young people have the passion to give back to their communities monetarily, imagine how different our politics would be if those same skills, influence, leadership, talent were put at work in service of the public good. And that includes all of you in this room because many of you are also part of the diaspora. I'm here to recruit you. I'm here to make a deal with you. I'm not going back unless I take you with me. (Laugther) Now, I know that most of you, if not the vast majority of you, are completely fed up, turned off, discouraged, disgusted by politics, either in your country, in this country, all over the world. Perhaps you are discouraged by the fact that governments are slow to deliver. Perhaps they're inefficient. Perhaps they are thoroughly corrupt and rotten to the core. Perhaps they're responsible for conflicts that have claimed lives and livelihoods in the countries from which you come. So why would you sink your time and your energies into such a compromised system? One of the most powerful analyses of conflict, inefficiency, corruption, stagnation which I've encountered in recent months is the question of a political economy. There is a reason that our governments are not performing as they should. It's not just because of a failure within the system. Consider the political economy of conflict and corruption in your own country. Why is it so difficult to overcome? Who is making money or amassing power because things don't work the way they should? Where does the back stop? Who has an incentive to keep the system dysfunctional? And how can we work together to overcome their total infection of the system, to ensure that we don't lose our grip on the very principle of democratic governance? The answer, I'm afraid, because you were born into this political time, is simply by taking over - you have to get involved. There's no way around it. You have to join political organizations in numbers large enough to influence change from within. You have to actively seek to take up a leadership role in government, in the state, in the public service and deftly but decisively move its priorities to where they should be: not in the service of people who want to amass power and money for themselves, but to better the lives of the highest number of people. There will always be government, whether we like it or not, whether we find it palatable or not. But there won't always be democracy. If we ignore politics, the people who have been quietly lobbying our governments to prioritize development ahead of democracy, these are the people who will have their way, and the systems that we now take for granted will dissolve before our eyes. When I was campaigning in South Africa last year for the 2014 general election, the voter registration numbers looked a little bit like this, six months before the election: 23% of potential voters in the 18-to-19-year-old age group were registered to vote. In the age group 20 to 29 years old, 55% were registered. And from 30 upwards, the number varied from 79 to 100%; in fact, there were more people aged 80 and over who were registered than were in the census numbers in South Africa. Imagine that. Fully 100% of people over a certain age consider voting to be an indispensable right, 21 years into democracy, and do not shirk their responsibility to register and turn out at the polls. But in the 18-to-19-year-old age group - and we must remember 19 is the average age on our continent; 26 is the average age in South Africa - the number is 23% to 55%. What's the political economy of voter apathy? Who benefits when we stay out of the system? Who gets to keep the status quo and empower themselves and enrich themselves and continue to infect our political system like a cancer. Who banks by us continuing with the status quo? Now even as I say all of this to you, that your country and your continent need you to enter public service, I know that if you take up my challenge, you're going to face huge amounts of resistance - all because of these political economies that I have just described. I did. I was told that I was too young. I was too female. (Laughter) I didn't have enough experience though no one could define what experience was enough. I had too much of a white accent; I wasn't a real African. I straightened my hair and wore weaves; I wasn't a real African. We should be honest about the things that hold people back from entering public service - humiliation, degradation; it's not an easy road - but all of these things should illustrate to you the extent to which the status quo is designed to enrich and empower a few at the expense of the many, and it should impart to you the urgency of you, as a generation, of now getting involved in public service to change that very culture. And if you decide to enter public service, you may even be tempted to believe some of these criticisms. They're designed to keep you out; that's how gatekeeping works. Somebody is benefiting from the absence of excellence and disruption in politics and government. But these are challenges that have to be faced on. There is no other route; there is no wishing this away. They are the reason that your country and your continent need you. We have this thing in politics in Africa; it's called the "big man." The cult of personality - we've all heard different terminologies for it. In South Africa, in particular, this entails waiting for a great person to come and save us from ourselves. Currently, we're waiting for Cyril Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or [inaudible] to come and save South Africa from itself, to save us from the mess that we find ourselves in that perhaps another big man put us in. But how can a single personality be held responsible for building or for running a whole nation? And where do we turn when they fail? If we haven't cultivated any kind of pipeline of energetic, young people who wanted to enter public service now or in the future and, critically, who can do the job better, are we doomed to always have to choose between mediocrity and ego, and mediocrity and ego? Is that it? Is that all our government will ever be? Or worse: Are we going to stand by while presidents change constitutions so they can serve a third term and a fourth term and a fifth term, claiming that three million people signed a petition stating that they are the only person who can do the job? (Laughter) (Applause) Is that what we'll do? Now, there's a new energy around entrepreneurism and innovation and growth in Africa today. But that energy isn't going to translate into lasting prosperity unless we get our politics right. Political leaders who are gatekeepers of the status quo will claim that any success is their success. They'll centralize power, and they'll demand that we all be grateful for those little green shoots of achievement, and then they'll claim that nobody else can do the job. They'll argue that development must come first, freedom can come later, and that they are the best benevolent dictator to do the job. They'll take your political voice from you when times are a little bit good, and when times go bad, they will refuse to give it back. There is no prosperity for our continent without a vibrant, diverse, and truly competitive politics, founded upon excellence, transparency and commitment to the public good. Our politics will not have any of these qualities unless talented, young people, the best people, step forward at this moment in Africa's history, when we're emerging from that stereotype of the dark continent, the hopeless continent, and commit themselves to public service. We must run for office. We must work in the civil service. We must disrupt the political status quo. We must prevent the rush to the bottom. You really are the ones that you have been waiting for. There are no great saviors waiting somewhere in the wings to save us from future problems. There's nobody who is waiting in the wings to come and save us from ourselves; there's just us. And I'm not going back without you. (Laughter) So, will you take up the challenge? Thank you. (Cheers) (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
public service 11
south africa 5
enter public 4
status quo 4
political economy 3
age group 3
leadership role 2
president mandela 2
young man 2
young people 2
public good 2
average age 2
real african 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
enter public service 2

Important Words

  1. abathembu
  2. absence
  3. academic
  4. achievement
  5. active
  6. actively
  7. afraid
  8. africa
  9. african
  10. africans
  11. age
  12. aged
  13. aid
  14. allies
  15. alternately
  16. amass
  17. amassing
  18. amounts
  19. analyses
  20. answer
  21. apathy
  22. applause
  23. argue
  24. athlete
  25. average
  26. bad
  27. banks
  28. begun
  29. benefiting
  30. benefits
  31. benevolent
  32. big
  33. billion
  34. bit
  35. boat
  36. books
  37. born
  38. bottom
  39. build
  40. building
  41. called
  42. campaigning
  43. cancer
  44. capacitate
  45. captured
  46. care
  47. cash
  48. census
  49. centralize
  50. challenge
  51. challenges
  52. chance
  53. change
  54. cheap
  55. cheers
  56. children
  57. choose
  58. citizens
  59. civil
  60. claim
  61. claimed
  62. claiming
  63. commit
  64. commitment
  65. communities
  66. comparison
  67. competitive
  68. completely
  69. compromised
  70. conflict
  71. conflicts
  72. constitutionalism
  73. constitutions
  74. contacts
  75. continent
  76. continue
  77. continuing
  78. convince
  79. convinces
  80. convincing
  81. core
  82. corrupt
  83. corruption
  84. countries
  85. country
  86. couple
  87. critical
  88. critically
  89. criticisms
  90. cult
  91. cultivated
  92. culture
  93. cyril
  94. dark
  95. day
  96. deal
  97. decide
  98. decided
  99. decisions
  100. decisively
  101. defiling
  102. define
  103. deftly
  104. deliver
  105. demand
  106. democracy
  107. democratic
  108. depend
  109. designed
  110. desire
  111. development
  112. diaspora
  113. dictator
  114. difficult
  115. difficultly
  116. discouraged
  117. disgusted
  118. disrupt
  119. disruption
  120. dissolve
  121. diverse
  122. dollars
  123. donor
  124. doomed
  125. door
  126. dysfunctional
  127. easy
  128. economies
  129. economy
  130. education
  131. ego
  132. election
  133. emerging
  134. empower
  135. empty
  136. encountered
  137. encourage
  138. energetic
  139. energies
  140. energy
  141. england
  142. enrich
  143. ensure
  144. entails
  145. enter
  146. entering
  147. entrenching
  148. entrepreneurial
  149. entrepreneurialism
  150. entrepreneurism
  151. exceed
  152. excellence
  153. expense
  154. experience
  155. experienced
  156. experiences
  157. express
  158. extent
  159. eyes
  160. face
  161. faced
  162. fact
  163. facts
  164. fail
  165. failure
  166. families
  167. father
  168. fear
  169. fed
  170. fellow
  171. female
  172. find
  173. flatter
  174. foreign
  175. formidable
  176. founded
  177. fourth
  178. fray
  179. freedom
  180. frighten
  181. fully
  182. future
  183. gain
  184. gatekeepers
  185. gatekeeping
  186. general
  187. generation
  188. ghana
  189. ghanean
  190. give
  191. good
  192. governance
  193. government
  194. governments
  195. granted
  196. grateful
  197. great
  198. green
  199. grip
  200. group
  201. growth
  202. hair
  203. harvard
  204. headlines
  205. health
  206. heard
  207. held
  208. highest
  209. highly
  210. hinge
  211. history
  212. hold
  213. home
  214. honest
  215. honoring
  216. hope
  217. hopeless
  218. hours
  219. huge
  220. humiliation
  221. husbands
  222. ignore
  223. illustrate
  224. imagine
  225. impart
  226. important
  227. inaudible
  228. incentive
  229. includes
  230. indispensable
  231. industrial
  232. inefficiency
  233. inefficient
  234. infect
  235. infection
  236. inflection
  237. influence
  238. innovation
  239. institute
  240. intellectual
  241. intended
  242. involved
  243. job
  244. join
  245. kennedy
  246. kind
  247. knocking
  248. knowledge
  249. lacking
  250. landscapes
  251. large
  252. lasting
  253. laughter
  254. laugther
  255. leader
  256. leaders
  257. leadership
  258. leave
  259. left
  260. legacy
  261. lessons
  262. lines
  263. livelihoods
  264. lives
  265. living
  266. lobbying
  267. london
  268. looked
  269. lose
  270. majority
  271. making
  272. malawi
  273. man
  274. mandela
  275. mediocrity
  276. mess
  277. million
  278. millions
  279. minutes
  280. moment
  281. monetarily
  282. money
  283. months
  284. move
  285. nation
  286. negotiations
  287. nelson
  288. nkosazana
  289. number
  290. numbers
  291. office
  292. official
  293. older
  294. order
  295. organizations
  296. overcome
  297. palatable
  298. parents
  299. part
  300. partners
  301. party
  302. passed
  303. passion
  304. peaceful
  305. people
  306. performing
  307. person
  308. personal
  309. personality
  310. perspective
  311. petition
  312. pipeline
  313. pitch
  314. pitching
  315. point
  316. political
  317. politician
  318. politics
  319. polls
  320. potential
  321. power
  322. powerful
  323. president
  324. presidents
  325. prevent
  326. prince
  327. principle
  328. priorities
  329. prioritize
  330. problems
  331. professional
  332. prosperity
  333. providing
  334. public
  335. put
  336. qualities
  337. question
  338. quietly
  339. quo
  340. ramaphosa
  341. ran
  342. reach
  343. real
  344. realize
  345. reason
  346. recognizes
  347. recruit
  348. recruitment
  349. referring
  350. reform
  351. refuse
  352. register
  353. registered
  354. registration
  355. remaining
  356. remember
  357. reminded
  358. remittance
  359. remittances
  360. resigned
  361. resistance
  362. responsibility
  363. responsible
  364. return
  365. revealed
  366. road
  367. role
  368. room
  369. rotten
  370. run
  371. running
  372. rush
  373. save
  374. saviors
  375. school
  376. seek
  377. semester
  378. seminar
  379. sense
  380. serve
  381. served
  382. service
  383. setting
  384. shirk
  385. shoots
  386. showing
  387. signed
  388. simply
  389. single
  390. sink
  391. sitting
  392. skilled
  393. skills
  394. slow
  395. smart
  396. social
  397. south
  398. spent
  399. stagnation
  400. stand
  401. state
  402. states
  403. stating
  404. status
  405. stay
  406. staying
  407. step
  408. stereotype
  409. stock
  410. stood
  411. stop
  412. straightened
  413. strategist
  414. students
  415. study
  416. success
  417. successful
  418. survival
  419. system
  420. systems
  421. taint
  422. talent
  423. talented
  424. talk
  425. tempted
  426. term
  427. terminologies
  428. texas
  429. thinking
  430. throwaway
  431. time
  432. times
  433. today
  434. told
  435. total
  436. totalled
  437. transfers
  438. transition
  439. translate
  440. transparency
  441. turn
  442. turned
  443. united
  444. upliftment
  445. urgency
  446. vanity
  447. varied
  448. vast
  449. vibrant
  450. visionary
  451. voice
  452. vote
  453. voter
  454. voters
  455. voting
  456. waiting
  457. wanted
  458. wanting
  459. week
  460. white
  461. wings
  462. wishing
  463. wives
  464. wore
  465. work
  466. works
  467. world
  468. worth
  469. written
  470. year
  471. years
  472. young
  473. zimbabwe