One of the outstanding and enduring characteristics of Dirk Mudge is without a doubt is his talent to engage freely and spontaneously with people. He excelled in fostering good relations between all Namibians. By doing that which came naturally for him and what he practiced everyday in his encounters with his fellow citizens he set an example for South Africa where many of its leaders were hesitant – even fearful – to proceed on a path by then already well-travelled by Dirk Mudge.
Dirk made a quantum leap early in his political outlook. He faced the new realities emerging in his country head on. While he could easily have wandered along the well-trodden path of his fellow white compatriots of those early years, he adjusted.
He did so as he had the foresight with which few in his country – indeed, even in SA – had been endowed and blessed. That leap was that of a visionary: it was calculated. When he acted he could count true supporters on his two hands; yet what he achieved has now been recorded in various publications, including his own.
What is sorely lacking – not so much in Namibia where he is to this day a respected leader, but in SA – is the recognition for his endeavours so tirelessly performed over so many decades. What he pioneered in Namibia was not always well-liked in SA and by its then leaders. Indeed, sometimes there was little to no appreciation for what he wanted to achieve and did achieve against great odds.
So there remains little or no recognition of what he accomplished – and the labels hung around his neck were definitely not deserved. Had a few pages from his approach to meaningfully engaging his fellow human beings been more widely accepted and understood, a difference would have been affected in SA where that engagement was dismally lacking.
It must be hoped that the accolades that were formerly denied him by SA will now be given to a person who made a real difference in his own country. That is why Pik Botha’s letter is so significant in this respect and the bestowing of an honourary doctorate by the University of Stellenbosch upon Dirk so well deserved.