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Khaya Dlanga: Heroic lessons from Jordan's retreat

Khaya Dlanga

We don’t know how many people are shaking in their boots now: they should come out now – before the qualifications police hound them too.

Pallo Jordan. (Gallo)

One can’t help but feel sorry for Pallo Jordan. We can’t doubt the man’s robust intelligence at all. What is sad is that he probably did not need to have the “Dr” before his name in order for his ideas and thoughts to be taken seriously at all. We probably would have held him in high esteem without it.

What saddens me is that he felt that he needed the title to validate himself. I don’t have any less respect for Pallo Jordan’s intellectual prowess because the letters PhD no longer accompany his name.

With Jordan the latest to falsely lay claim to qualifications, we don’t know how many more people are shaking in their boots right now.

If you have led everyone to believe that you have a qualification you don’t genuinely have, it’s probably a good idea to confess now – or face the wrath of the qualifications police.

As I said on the social networks, by the time everyone is exposed, we will discover that the only person who was honest about his qualifications is Jacob Zuma.

When honourable men are found to be less honourable, do we excuse them? Mr Jordan should be forgiven because he showed remorse.

I wish he could also go back to Parliament.

I am reminded of Robert Bolt’s Thomas More in his play A Man for All Seasons. We applaud those who do the right thing, those who show virtue because it has become a rare thing to witness from our public representatives, especially when caught.

Thomas More says: “If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes.

“But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all ... Why then perhaps we must stand fast a little – even at the risk of being heroes.”

Jordan’s decision to resign from Parliament is heroic. I am aware that many will shout and say that he only decided to resign after he was exposed and, as has been reported, even attempted to make some sort of deal. I think that is precisely the reason it was heroic. Many would have fought tooth and nail to stay in Parliament.

After all, some have done worse and remain unscathed. His decision is heroic because he could have stayed and we would have forgotten about it and gone on to discuss the next big scandal.

Why shouldn’t we praise people for doing the right thing, even if they erred in the first place? It is not the mortal man’s perfection that makes him a hero, it is his errors, some of them purposeful and deliberate – until such time as he fixes what he has created. Sometimes he can’t correct his mistake; it remains a permanent blemish. 

In A Man for All Seasons, Margaret More, Thomas More’s daughter says to her father for the choices he makes which lead him to his execution for doing the right thing, “In any state that was half good, you would be raised up high, not here, for what you’ve done already. It’s not your fault the state’s three-quarters bad. Then if you elect to suffer for it, you elect yourself a hero.”

Was Jordan the victim of succession battle?
What Jordan did by resigning was “half good”, as Margaret More says to her father, and he should be raised high. Many are not even capable of rising to the level of half good.

In fact, what he has done for this country is far greater than the blemish of the lie he told. I trust we will not reduce Jordan to that indiscretion but remember him for his titanic contributions.

Zuma’s time as president of the ANC is coming to an end and the knives are out. The game of thrones has begun and it may look like this (Jordan’s fate) is not part of the game, but we shall see.

What Jordan did was not right, but what he did afterwards is heroic.

Salute, Mr Jordan.


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