Spiritually speaking

14 December 2009

Archbishop Thabo MakgobaAnglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has turned his attention away from matters spiritual (temporarily, of course) to complete a PhD in Business Administration.

This week he will be capped by his predecessor, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, and Ndungane's predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, will be part of the graduation procession.

Makgoba is a fellow of the UCT Graduate School of Business which, in collaboration with Duke University, runs an "excellent" programme on public values, called the Emerging Leaders Programme.

He says that during the fellowship programme, his intellectual curiosity was rekindled and he registered for doctoral studies. His thesis is titled African workplace spirituality in South African mines.

The thesis reflects on the workplace and is set in a mining context, looking at the plight of black miners who sustain spinal cord injuries.

"Their resilience in the face of trauma, and the difficult workplace context, enables one to reflect on African-situated community spirituality, which draws strength from Ubuntu values," he says.

"These values are no different to Biblical values and principles. Therefore, they knit well with what I have studied in the past and with my daily reflections."

You have to be disciplined and work hard to complete a PhD of this nature, Makgoba says. In this respect, the Knowledge Commons staff, as well as colleague Victor Katoma, were very supportive.

But working with Professor Kurt April was his "greatest pleasure and highlight".

"He stretched and encouraged me all the way. Being Archbishop took its toll, especially in the editing stage, but Prof Kurt demanded more time and thoroughness from me."

And April encouraged him when the going got tough.

"Travelling from Washington and meeting the VC, and unwisely saying to him, 'Dr Price, I am your student', made me want to work even harder. Imagine an Archbishop dropping out!"

Makgoba says his PhD has enhanced his "culture of writing", and he hopes to co-author the thesis with April as a book. Asked how he managed to find the time for a PhD in his busy schedule, Makgoba says: "Archbishops must pray hard, reflect deeply and work hard as well. And they must also work hard not to be swallowed up by work. So you just have to work hard!"

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