I was privileged to be invited to attend the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals (ASABA). Kgadiso Mokonyane, current President, opened the evening explaining that the purpose of the evening was to celebrate the Association and what it has achieved. She introduce the first speaker, past President and founding secretary of ASABA, Ranti Mothapo. He opened by saying Asaba was formed to spearhead transformation in the actuarial profession in South Africa. He said he wished for the pace of transformation to increase. However, it does not happen overnight. There has to be a strategy to achieve this over a period of time. Transformation should not happen through the exclusion of anybody regardless of their race. He stressed that we need to move forward as one happy nation where the aim is inclusivity of all. BEE is a good example of the fact that transformation is an ongoing process. A company does not acquire a BEE status and it lasts forever. They need to continue working at it and updating it. If they don’t they will regress to the past status quo.
Transforming the actuarial profession
Themba Gamedze, former President of Asaba, opened by quoting Mahatma Ghandi “It is the quality of our work that will please God, not the quantity” In every profession you should seek out people who think differently. The actuarial profession is no different and even actuaries should seek to improve quality.
He mentioned that the Actuarial Society of South Africa has been incredibly supportive from the start and he thanked them for it. He would rather see the industry transformed with a handful of quality black actuaries than hundreds of average black actuaries. Quality is what we strive for.
Lastly we were addressed by Felix Kagura, also a past President of the association, shared some of his memories of the past 10 years. He remembered speaking to some scholars in Soweto and some of them seem to be content to just carry on their lives as they are. He then realized that those with capabilities, whatever it is, should be lifted out to reach what they are capable of. He stressed that we should search out things that can be done for the greater good of society, which is whatASABA is striving for. Felix ended by saying that the actuarial profession has fantastic capacity to impact societal issues and he encouraged the actuaries in the room to seek out one thing where they can make an impact on society and build on the dream.
I left encouraged by the fact that this society sees the bigger picture. That it does not only look after the actuarial profession and its participants but that it strives to impact society positively. COVER congratulates ASABA on the great work done over the last 10 years and wishes them good luck with the next decade of transformation.
Tony Van Niekerk