Written by Alec Hogg

Heroes walk among us. People of integrity and moral fibre who reject the easier, softer route of acquiescence with evil. Those prepared to isolate themselves because they know going with the flow is wrong.

The Catholic Church recently set late Benedict Daswa on the path to becoming South Africa’s first saint.  Daswa, a school principal, was bludgeoned to death in 1990 by his neighbours in the northern Limpopo village of Tshinanini. His crime was to argue a lightning strike that destroyed some huts was a force of nature, not witchcraft.

Also this weekend, leader of Gabon’s opposition party, Jean Iwangou, turned down a senior post in the reshuffled cabinet of President Ali Bongo. The Bongos have ruled Gabon since 1967 when Ali’s father Omar seized power. Then there’s Lagos reporter Nicholas Ibekwe, who has has been reaping the scorn of his former colleagues after blowing the whistle on a Nigerian media sector where the norm is accepting “brown envelopes” to report the briber’s version of the truth.

These three, and many others, intuitively appreciated Burke’s famous suggestion that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Steuart Pennington comments: I agree with Alec, there are countless ‘unsung’ heroes in SA who work for no glory, no praise, just the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped others and made a difference. I acknowledged them with a poem:


Like bubbles of energy rising from the dark depths of the ocean

the work of volunteers often goes unnoticed, unheralded and unapplauded

But with time and unerring certainty this selfless belief in sewing what is good

will enable the many, many beneficiaries of such giving

to rise, to grow and inevitably burst onto the surface

with an energy and a force

that will change this country

and its people

for the better