The book selects some past events and experiences, national and international, and wonders what lessons were missed, learnt, or are yet to be learnt from them. Tragedies happen again and again because we fail to learn from the past. The past is rich with valuable lessons – rich pickings. The reader is taken back into the past in search of some of those lessons, many of which, regrettably, we failed – and continue failing – to learn. As we dig into the past for those rich pickings, there will be moments to laugh, cry or even weep; but that is exactly how lessons are learnt in life.
Other similar incidents learnt from, both abroad and at home, relate to the author’s own experiences in South Africa, including as a Judge who heard amnesty applications as a member of the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The book hopes to show that capacity for evil is not peculiar to any nation or race; it also discusses the dangers of tribalism. The chapter ‘Beyond the Frontiers’ takes the reader into the rest of Africa. A lot is revealed, including divisions the author witnessed – while serving as an AU judge based in Tanzania – within the AU along the languages of, ironically, colonial masters; also referenced is the sorry state of human rights in Africa. Have we seized the opportunity to learn all the valuable lessons which that great teacher, ‘The Past’, offered?
The author leaves it to readers to make their own final judgement after reading the book as to whether, at the individual and collective levels, we have learnt those lessons and taken them to heart for the good of our individual and collective destiny.
About the Author:
Judge BM Ngoepe was born in Limpopo where he practised law for many years; first, as an attorney in Limpopo and later as an advocate in Pretoria, acquiring the status of Senior Counsel (SC) before he was appointed a Judge, where he served before taking optional retirement. Positions currently held: South Africa’s Tax Ombud; Chairperson of the Appeals Board of the Council for Medical Schemes; Chairperson of the Appeals Panel of the South African Press Council; Chairperson of the Final Appeals Committee of the Advertising Regulatory Board of South Africa, and, finally, Independent Head: Investigative Unit, Cricket South Africa.