ABASA and UFH host 5th Annual Wiseman Nkuhlu Lecture

Read time: 5 mins

“Of all the lectures, I enjoyed this one the most because it was held here at the University of Fort Hare,” – Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, one of UFH’s greatest alumni.

The African doyen of Accounting was speaking during the 5th Annual Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu Lecture held yesterday (4th August) at the ABC Hall on the UFH East London Campus.

In its fifth year running, the event hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA) is in honour of the trail that Prof Nkuhlu has blazed in the accountancy profession as the first black African CA (SA).

The event is also in recognition of his momentous contribution to the development of black Accountants.

Since its inaugural lecture in 2018 which was delivered by Prof Nkuhlu, the event has hosted past presidents of ABASA as lecturers.

The Chief Executive Officer of SNG-Grant Thornton, Mr Victor Sekese delivered this year’s lecture under the national theme: “Driving Leadership Excellence through Inclusive Social Accountability”

Speakers and guests included the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Prof Renuka Vithal; ABASA President, Ms Linda Maqoma; CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accounting (SAICA), Mr Freeman Nomvalo;  CEO of KPMG SA, Mr  Ignatius Sehoole; and the Deputy Auditor-General Vonani Chauke.

Also present were representatives from SAPRO, a full-service assurance, tax and advisory consulting firm and the Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority, FASSET who were partners in the event.

The UFH Nkuhlu Department of Accounting was led by its HOD Prof Munacinga Simatele.

The audience included accounting students who packed the venue to its rafters, signifying their tremendous interest in the lecture on the “Father” of accounting.

Born in Cala in the Eastern Cape, Prof Nkuhlu’s journey in the field of accounting started here at UFH after he graduated with a BCom in the early 1970s.  He then study at the University of Cape Town where he received a Certificate of Theory in Accounting in 1975 and New York University where he graduated with an MBA in 1982.

Prof Nkuhlu became the first black African to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa. During his career which spans over four decades, he has played key roles in academia, philanthropy, development, business and politics.

From being a political prisoner on Robben Island at the age of 19 to being an Economic Advisor to President Thabo Mbeki, Prof Nkuhlu is a pioneer for imparting a corporate culture of accountability, ethical business leadership and the advancement and development of South Africa.

Between 1976 to 1990, he combined his role in the auditing profession with lecturing at the University of Fort Hare initially and later at the University of Transkei where he played an instrumental role in establishing the Accounting Department. He served as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Transkei from 1987 to 1991

Currently, Prof Nkuhlu holds various positions, including Chairman of KPMG SAs board and Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, and is a member of the Advisory board of SAICA. He served as president of SAICA for two terms from April 1998 to April 2000 and is passionately involved with the development of black accountants.

In recognition of the immense role he played and continues to play in paving the way for black Accountants, Prof Nkuhlu has been lauded with several awards, including honorary doctorates from the universities of the Free State, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Pretoria, the Witwatersrand and Fort Hare, as well as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

He has also received merit awards from the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce, Association for Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa and Black Management Forum.

Recently, he was awarded the SAICA Legacy Award which, according to the Institute is presented to someone who has built a legacy that will live on for many generations and inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.

In his lecture, Mr Sekese reminded the audience how a country, institution and systems can thrive under ethical and excellent leadership and collapse under corrupt leadership.  He also stressed the importance for people to live within their means.

“We need to take the lead and teach people to live a purposeful life. We need to ensure that what defines people are the right principles and not the size of their car, office and their designer suits. Let us not be found to be amongst those that are disinterested in the challenges our people are facing as a country, continent and a global community.”

“Local challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality are well documented and they need our urgent response. Let us rise and frame the reality that we desire for our people and start to attain that reality for this generation and future generations. When we do this, history will judge us kindly.”

The lecture concluded with words of wisdom from the wise man himself, Prof Nkuhlu who was accompanied by his wife, Hazel. “We are a great country with great people but we just happen to have bad leadership. We have allowed this bad leadership to persist for a long time. But not all is lost, we have great leaders in this room, who are standing firm leading great institutions, including the University of Fort Hare.”

“Things can be very simple provided we are honest and ethical. It starts at an individual level, searching for the correct principles on which to centre your life,” said Prof Nkuhlu.