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Author Archives: Dumirocks

About Dumirocks

Grew up in a village and maybe it might interest you that I went to a rather ill-resourced school. Despite all that I saw my ambition and drive journeying me to one of the most prestigious and highly respected University in the country, the University of Stellenbosch. Not only is it a leading academic centre of learning, but it offered itself to be my knowledge partner. With that, let me introduce myself. I am a young, dynamic and energetic student. I am in my final year of study and I would like to have a career in Auditing. I am actively involved in my academic career, first as a student, secondly as a student leader and perhaps lastly as a community development leader. Community, youth and leadership development are close to my heart. I am inspired by the idea of being an agent for social change. Leadership and community development is so central to me that I completed a six months credit bearing course in Leadership and Community Interaction at the University of Stellenbosch. Oh, well at the beginning of 2012, myself and other four former school mates convened and identified a need for education upliftment project in our community. To address that social-ill we started a foundation that will deal with educational disparities, leadership and entrepreneurial development, career guidance and public speaking. I most value education, Social responsible leadership and a pursuit for Justice, peace and reconciliation. My type of South Africa is one that is economically liberated and crime free. In most cases, if not in all, I autograph my work with enthusiasm, excellence and impeccable integrity.

You(th) we need you to vote……

As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.
Adlai E. Stevenson
 
It is well documented in the history books that this liberation came at a cost of human life at worst. We were indeed liberated for a cause. A cause to honour freedom and all the responsibility that comes with it. One such responsibility is the duty to participate in democratic processes.

As the current year draws to a close, the coming year promises to be a fun in the political landscape. You might be aware that 2014 is the year in which we as a country will be electing a new leader, or a new ruling party. A leader who will take our South Africa to a path of prosperity, a path that will ensure that every human being concede equal citizenship no matter the abuse by those we seem to elect.

For the status quo to prevail someone with a powerful voice as yourself will need to take an apathetic stance and choose not to partake in this crucial activity bestowed by democracy and freedom. Within your inner being, therein lies a powerful force which can see a ruling party relinquishing its robes to that party you might have voted into government or (if you are happy with the ruling party you just keep the status quo and vote for it).

As one scroll down feeds on social networks, one gets a sense that those who are active on this platforms and also happens to be a large population of our country, the youth are not so much concerned about exercising the right that many people died for, the right to vote. Young fellows, lend me your ear, however disillusioned you are about the prevailing state of affairs in our country, deciding against voting is committing an error in judgement, an injustice if I may tell you.

As you head toward the ballot box next year, keep in mind many people who laid down their lives, so that me and you, can be able to exercise this democratic right called voting. Be an active citizen, vote well because the truth of the matter is that this is a privilege that most people in the world are deprived of. You could have been born in a country where absolute monarchy is still the order of the day….. just give it a thought?

Cometh the hour, put down your smartphones and vote. I have heard many people saying they will not be voting. Now saying that you will not be voting is tantamount to irresponsible utterances. I suggest that instead of abstaining altogether from voting, you rather spoil the ballot.

It seems sinister on the surface to spoil the ballot, but is equally powerful as electing a particular party or a particular individual. Spoiling the ballot for me in particular means that there is no alternative party that I trust with my cross. I can also argue that, by opting for this seemingly no-brainer exercise called spoiling the ballot, that seek to communicate to those in power that as much as I would like to vote, there is no party that speaks to my needs and I am quite discontented by the prevailing state of affairs.This too is a loud voice, it is louder than those vuvuzela at a soccer stadium between the two Soweto giants.

Therefore, young soldiers, it is an irresponsible thing to utter something as “I will not be voting”. the dangerous aspect of this talk is that your silence might hinder the change that a certain political party so desperately need.

Without your vote, our democracy is hollow. As a matter of fact, never discount the value that your single vote have. It remains a potent tool in our democratic state to effect change (…and in Justice Malala’s word) “and a new order which will make a real difference in your life”.

Until 2014, let freedom reign…!!!

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fostering entrepreneurship, whose role is it anyway?

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Patrice Motsepe (Appropriated from Graysaber.com)

 

Whose responsibility is it to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst young people? I can submit without any shadow of doubt that entrepreneurship is a life blood of society. For citizens to prosper in any given territory, a country needs to offer itself as a supporting base and enabling environment for entrepreneurship. For this to happen, a society will need to reward innovative thinkers, identify mavericks and offer them all the support necessary for entrepreneurs to prosper in their quest.

Cameron Herold in a Ted Talk he delivered in Boston in 2009, he argues that parents must take it upon themselves to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship in their children. He couldn’t be further from the truth – just imagining the multiplier effect that would emanate from such a teaching, should every single household engage in it.

An article published by Finweek on the 14th of February, and titled “An academic role in fostering entrepreneurship”;Constant Beugre (cited) said that she is of the opinion that due to lack of entrepreneurship courses in African universities, these institutions should be involved in training people to create new ventures.

Now what I find rather fascinating about Beugre’s submission is that she holds a view that suggest that academic institutions should play a role in training new breeds of entrepreneurs.  It is particularly interesting to me on two grounds, first, how do you convince young people to not join big companies and start their ventures instead; and secondly what form of support mechanism would these universities offer these young people for them to be successful as entrepreneurs in the face of great uncertainty.

There are obviously reasons that prevent any aspiring, young entrepreneur to enter the market. Factors such as the following springs to mind: stringent labour laws, government policy bottlenecks, lack of funding and lack of environment in which “a noble business failure” is celebrated and seen as a valuable learning experience.

I also hold a similar sentiment by Beugre that academic institutions should offer a training ground to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship. A leading research university In South Africa, The University of Stellenbosch is offering that pad where student entrepreneurs can test their ideas. To delve further into the Stellenbosch case, the university recently launched an initiative called the launchlab, an incubation hub where student entrepreneurs can make use of at a nominal fee.Furthermore, to prove that the University of Stellenbosch is indeed playing a role in fostering entrepreneurship, its technology transfer company in association with the university centre for leadership development (The FVZS) run a business idea competition on an annual basis where students are invited to enter the competition by submitting any ideas they have. They need not submit business plans, just plain ideas.

Moreover, three students, (whom I desire not to mention for anonymity reasons) started a pitch in event, where students are invited to pitch their ideas to panel of judges. The person with the best idea stands a chance to win cash prize to turn his idea into a tangible form. There is no reason to doubt that students making use of these initiatives will leave Stellenbosch University very equipped to run their own enterprises.

Let me invite you to ponder on this, South Africa has 23 public universities (and some of them do offer entrepreneurship courses), another two in the pipeline, and some 50 public Further Education & Training colleges, what would happen if all these institutions replicate the model employed by the University of Stellenbosch and its students? How many well-equipped risk takers can come out of universities year in and year out? I can only think of a snow-ball effect!

Are we then safe to conclude that the institutions of higher learning have a rather positive role to play in fostering the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship? I think so!

I dream of a South Africa where innovation and entrepreneurship is admired, business failure encouraged and government policy bottlenecks relaxed! I dream of an innovative country.

“Dare to innovate”

Twitter: @Dumirocks

©2013

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Business

 

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The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

I love poetry. This thing get me going, it gives me perspective about many stuff in life. It is the greatest teacher, a consoler and a motivator. This is what William  Hazlitt think poetry is. After the quote, find one of my favourite poems by St Francis of Assisi!

Poetry  is all that is worth remembering in life.

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
 

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in General

 

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We are youth with great potential

There is something that people say about young people in South Africa. You know what they say? They say that we (youth) are passive, complacent, and apathetic in addressing the issues that affects our lives directly. Perhaps, they are right, perhaps not.

Aristotle once conveyed something that troubles me. He said something to this effect “The young are permanently in a state resembling intoxication”.

Let me show you why I struggle with comprehending the legitimacy of the quote cited in the preceding paragraph.

I am not defending young people due to the fact that I am young, I do so purely because I am of the opinion that young people are playing their part in making this country a better place. Whatever issue that troubles them, they face it head-on by coming with creative ways to solve the issue they deem to be pertinent to them. They come up with initiatives that dispel the myth that seek to undermine the positive contribution they make. Some come up with initiatives that confront the issues of poor quality of teaching and learning in their communities, while others come with projects that offer young people to embody the spirit of entrepreneurship and the other significant low number of other young people introduce initiatives that encourages people to think outside the box, challenge the status quo and question what is being conveyed to them as unconventional truth.

Ordinary youth of South Africa are doing extra-ordinary things to better the lives of their peers in the society they reside in. In the community of Klipgat (A township, north of Pretoria), a group of young people started an organisation that help learners of that community with subject in Mathematics, Science and Accounting. Another group of students at the University of Stellenbosch started an initiative called Pitchin (@Pitchin_SA), where they offer an enabling platform for students to pitch their business ideas. These are just few of the stories about ordinary young people who passionately want to see South Africa thrives despite all the challenges, be economic, or political.

Looking at this, can we then deduce that Aristotle was wrong in saying that young people are constantly in the state of intoxication. If he was indeed right, then he was not referring to youth of a beautiful South Africa.

It is for this reason I say that South African young people are a youth with great potential. 

I am greatly inspired by those who display a character of selflessness in shaping this beautiful nation.

Until next time, I still speak my mind one thought at a time. 

Dumirocks

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Leadership

 

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We need to start taking NGOs a little bit serious

Not long ago, in 2011, I co-founded a company and named it Dynamic Dreamers. We later registered this company in terms of Companies Act 71 of 2008. Now, you thinking that I must be pretty comfortable in life because of this venture I started. Not really. In fact, I am as poor as a church mouse. No, the company we started is what is called an NPC (non-profit company). Neither their founders nor directors get the share of donors money other than what has been set aside as their salary as agreed by the parties involved.

A little bit about my company (if I can call it that way). We are a group of passionate young people who believe that behind the cracks of poverty lies a great potential, if nurtured can turn into a shining star. We operate in the education space with a mission of improving the quantity and quality of passes in the community in which this company operates. We want to empower the youth of this communities in a number of ways, with a long term view of making this young people responsible citizens of South Africa. We are in the process of achieving this amidst all the challenges we face in our endeavour.

As we sit and chart a strategy of how to make this NPC a leading company in this sector, we often confronted with amazing ideas, some ideal, some not so achievable. The challenges I encountered in this line of work taught me a great deal about people management, project management and more importantly crisis management. I have grown a great deal in the process, it gives me real pleasure.

One of the things that I dream for this company is that I wish to see it being a self-sustaining entity that can exist without any of its current founders and directors. I wish to see Dynamic Dreamers NPC being an entity that can at least employ about five people in the community in which it is based. If we do achieve that; five less people will be outside the joblessness trap. How idealistic is that? This is the question I asked my fellow co-founders and stakeholders in the company. We dwelled on how we can make this a reality. I will leave that for another day.

Just imagine how of a difference can NGOs make in addressing the issue of unemployment if the government and private sector took them a little more seriously? I am of the opinion that in addition to 1000 new businesses, a 1000 new NGO’s can also combat unemployment. Let me show you how NGO’s can help in eradicating poverty while creating employment. If the state could channel a certain amount of money to every NGO and this NGO’s ensure that they spend this money appropriately, the change that we wish to see can erupt.

If one NGO employ about five people, depending of course on personnel need and capacity, and there are about 2500 NGO’s for example, automatically about 12500 new jobs are created. These 12500 new employees are positively impacted by this and they can improve their skills and experience in their field of interest. As these NGO’s grow, more workforce is being added on, while the reliance of government funding decrease. This is achievable in number of ways; because the NGO is now developed and well-known, resource mobilisation will be pretty much easy.

There is no doubt that if Dynamic Dreamers is well known, and the impact of it is seen is the breadth and length of South Africa, its resource mobilisation will be difficult. When this happen, these NGOs can host round table debates on the issue of their interest and sell tickets to those interested in these debates. How much can be made assuming that whatever topic to be discussed is value-adding? Another way of making money and making these NGOs self-sustainable is by selling apparels bearing the name of the NGO. Instead of asking for R300 or R50, why don’t you make high quality hoodies, Golf-shirts, or Coffee mugs which can be bought by the public? Voila, another employment opportunity for a local woman or man who is a dressmaker. Another 2500 people who will depend on 2500 NGOs for survival are now economically emancipated. These extra 2500 people are service providers in these NGOs. In a short space of time, bearing my assumptions in mind, we already have created 15000 jobs in the NGO space alone. Is Progress inevitable?  

Lastly, private sector can also play a role in the creation of jobs in this sector. As far as my knowledge is concerned, I understand that companies need to adhere to triple bottom line reporting, that is profit, people and earth. If the Social responsibility department of each company adopt an NGO, sponsor it, while employing someone who will be based in that NGO representing the company in question as an officer while ensuring that the funds invested in this NGO are not being misappropriated and abused. If this can be a reality, In addition to that 15000 jobs, additional few hundred jobs are being added on to this figure.

We all have a role to play in making this rainbow nation a thriving one and the responsibility to create sustainable jobs cannot solely be left to government and big business. Good people NGOs are businesses, it is just that there is a lack of will, time and expertise to develop this NGOs into institute that can change the lives of our people in a profound way.

I am not naïve to think that what I have presented here is totally idealistic; in fact the possibility of this happening is as difficult as proverbial fly trying to push a dunghill. But spare a thought of its viability thereof?

It is for this reason and this ideal that make me think that we need to take NGOs a little bit seriously. Run them while adhering to code of corporate governance and sponsor them while checking from time to time that our money is being used for the purpose it is intended.  

I am a dreamer and a strategist and I am going to work hard in Dynamic Dreamers NPC to ensure that we do create 5 sustainable jobs in our community, while building it into a self-sustaining entity.

For more information on Dynamic Dreamers, please click here!

Contribute positively!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Lack of sight, extra-ordinary vision and an absolute legend!

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I am one dude who greatly respect people and love listening to their stories and the way they view things. I like conversations. I like robust debates especially ones that will challenge me an expand my intellectual capital. To feed this hunger, I started listening to talk shows, speeches, and listening to motivational speakers. But let me tell you my perception about motivational speakers. I think they are bunch of enterprising people who have realized that a mankind is playing so small that it is prepared to pay them for being lazy. What an amazing business opportunity, don’t you think?

Even though, I listen to these people, I pay little attention to what they say. What I actually do is to observe how they deal with anxiety and how do they deliver their presentations, for I believe that one day I will stand before investors and convince them to buy in whatever weird idea I have in my mind.

He has skydived from a height of 10000 feet, he is a landspeed record holder at 322.5km/h, he is a Cape epic cyclist, an iron man racer, a marathon runner and a world  and he was a member of a cricket team that won a world cup in India in 2008. (something that the Proteas would envy)!

What if I told you that this man achieving all this remarkable things is blind?

Hein Wagner graced us with his presence at the Aweness camp at Stellenbosch University one Saturday morning. You know, I am not one for motivational speakers, but hey, Hein is a true motivator, he is an absolute legend. Despite his difficult handicap, he is able to achieve all these things I never knew that they existed as adventures. What’s extra cool is that he plans to raise about R10 million for his organisation. He says he is going to that by piloting a boeing 747-400 from London to Cape Town.

His talk was incredibly moving and he presented it with tremendous sense of humour. He was interesting to listen to, except that he leaves one with great guilt that you are actually playing small in your life.

What I found profound were some of the words he said during his talk. He said the following:

“I’ve never seen so many beautiful looking people in an audience before, you all look amazing!”

 - “I see I’m running out of time so I’ll finish up now.”

 “The feeling I had walking off the field after we had just secured the World Cup, is something I would never ever exchange, even, the ability to be able to see.”

I guess, this is what the first year needed to kick-start their academic career.

In closing, he said, “I am blind, What is your excuse?”

Peruse his website at http://heinwagner.co.za

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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What’s your story?

Within each one of us, there is an amazing story to tell. Every individual is unique. Set of skills, character, personality and values distinguishes us from the rest of the animal in the human kingdom.

I am probably breaking the rules here. What encourages me to do this is one question that was posed to me when I went to an interview in one of the leading accounting firms in South Africa. The question was “When is the right time to bend the rules?” At that moment in time, I was confused, I did not know what to say, I wanted to impress the prospective sponsor. The first answer that came to mind was “under no circumstances, should anyone bend the rules. It is wrong. It unacceptable” obviously I was lying. The truth is with every rule, there is an exception.

I am narrating this because I have just bent the rules. In no way am I an official blogger for the camp I am currently attending. I am so inspired I cannot resist the urge to write a blog.

This camp is called Aweness Camp, and is organised by the University of Stellenbosch for its first generation students. This camp attracts many people from different background, with unique skills, talents and stories. How often have you looked at a person and judged based on how they appear? I did, and I am guilty as charged.

What I learnt in this camp is that there is a fundamental error in looking at a single side of a story. Each individual is unique (I am repeating this for the umpteenth time now), and they have an amazing story to tell. The sweetness of that story can only be tasted if we allow our egoistical self to listen to other people.

I also realised that people who have achieved a great deal in life is those who have seen CRAP in their lives. I am using the acronym CRAP here to define Criticism, Rejection, Asshole and Pressure.  They have failed in life; they have got rejected while pursuing their wildest dream. They only achieved whatever they set out to do, because they have persevered, they were bold enough to follow their dreams through. These are individuals that inspires the living CRAP out of me!

All In all, it takes boldness, bravery and courage to talk about shit you experience in this amazing journey you call LIFE.

What is your story? What defines you? Let’s chat.

 

Be inspirational…….

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The inventor of birth control pill, the science of menstruation, and cancer

One Wednesday morning (12 December 2012), I wrote a Facebook status that read as follows:

“Okay it seems that everyone is updating something about 12-12-12. Like what’s the fuss about? Or ya, and henceforth we will never have anything like 13-13-13 and etc etc until the next century.

 

lemme rather update about something I found rather interesting from the book penned by Malcolm Gladwell. Having not a prior exposure to Biology in my life, this was interesting thesis to indulge in. After reading the chapter about John Rock (The inventor of birth control AKA oral contraceptive), I now understand Why women experience abdominal pains, mood swings and other complications during menstruation and why women who have many kids( 3 or more) have less chances of suffering from cancer?”

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Of which, this status was received with more curiosity from two ladies insisting that I share more about this, with more emphasis on Menstruation and Cancer.

Take note that I have never written a book review or a chapter review before, and what you are about to read is what might be describe as a “dry rhetoric”. Bear with me as I try to give an account on how I understood Malcolm Gladwell in that Chapter on John Rock and how he erred in inventing the birth control pill.

I Consider Malcolm Gladwell one of true genius when it comes to letter writing, so much so that I have read all the books he penned from the famous ‘outliers’ to ‘what the dog saw’ including some of the article he wrote for ‘The New Yorker’.  Malcolm Gladwell in What the Dog Saw in the Chapter about John Rock, the inventor of birth control makes moving account and an interesting perspective about women’s health, the pill inventor, religious perspective (the pill and the pope), cancer and the science of menstruation. I will dwelleth on the latter two on instruction of the aforementioned Facebook friends.

The ideal which the inventor of the birth control pill sought to achieve was to curb unwanted pregnancy. However, his ideals were undermined by the church he religiously followed. Although, this was met with much criticism, the birth control pill is widely used today and unfortunately John Rock died not having witnessed the efficiency of the pill he invented. Although the pill is widely used today, it appeared to Gladwell that John Rock did not know (or rather he was not conscious) about women’s health. 

I do not know much about women’s health in general and about the science of menstruation in particular, however Gladwell wrote that “…a women of childbearing age has a menstrual cycle of about 28 days, determined of course by the cascades of hormones released by her ovaries.” It is said that a combination of oestrogen and progestin floods the uterus, of which its lining becomes thick and swollen in preparation of the implantation of a fertilised egg, and failure of which will cause the lining – ‘the endometrium’ – “to be sloughed off in a menstrual bleed”.  In fact one of the respondents to the Facebook status, Queen (not her real name for the sake of anonymity) asked me if I am suggesting that birth control pills cause abdominal pains. No, Queen that is not the case. In actual fact, apparently John Rock knew that the effect of the Pill’s hormones on the endometrium could make women not to menstruate because the pill suppresses ovulation and the oestrogen and progestin decrease the chances of the lining of the uterus.

Another interesting account I picked up from the book is the story about a young scientist name Beverly Strassman who took a voyage to Africa to live with the Dogon Tribe of Mali, with an attempt to understand the reproductive profile of the women in that tribe, and the nature of the biology during times that precedes the modern age, especially owing the fact that the said women never used contraceptives. She (Strassman) also did a study on when and how many times did the Dogon women menstruate during their lifetime if they lived to eight decades or so. She found that on average Dogon women menstruated about hundredth times as opposed to Western women who menstruated somewhere between three hundred and four hundred times.

Strassman further found that the number of menses is not greatly affected by differences in diet, method of subsistence and culture as many people would make us believe. Gladwell wrote that to Strassman and others in the field of evolutionary medicine, this shift from a hundred to four hundred menses is enormously significant.

The writer of the book, Is menstruation obsolete?, the authors Drs Elsimar Coutinho and Sheldon S Segal – leaders in contraceptive researchers – argues that incessant ovulation has become a problem for women’s health. They further said that it does not mean that women are better off the less they menstruate. In fact, there are times where women have to raise eyebrows if they aren’t menstruating.

Apparently, in obese women, a failure to menstruate can signal an increased risk of uterine cancer. In female athletes, a failure to menstruate can signal an increased risk of osteoporosis. Gladwell wrote. For most women, Coutinho and Segal say, incessant ovulation serves no purpose except to increase the occurrence of abdominal pains, mood shifts, migraines, endometriosis, fibroids and anemia. However, the serious of all is the greatly increased risk of some cancers. In no way did these two researchers suggest that incessant ovulation causes cancer, but by the mere occurrence that whenever a woman ovulates, an egg burst through the wall of her ovaries and to heal that  puncture, the cells of the ovary will have to divide and reproduce. After all, cancer occurs because as cells divide and reproduce they sometimes make mistake that cripples the cells’ defence against runaway growth.  

 What I found interesting as I read this chapter was the fact that every time a woman falls pregnant and bears a child, her lifetime risk of ovarian cancer drops 10 percent because apparently, between nine months of pregnancy and the suppression of ovulation associated with breast-feeding, she stops ovulating for twelve months – and saves her ovarian walls from twelve bouts of cell divisions.

It is true that reading gives you intellectual bling bling and more swag than you can ever imagine. Many short stories that Malcolm Gladwell narrates in this book are something that a person my age wouldn’t know, and dare I tell you it will make me an interesting person in the company of uninteresting goats!

Dumirocks

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Does it mean I am learned after my degree has been conferred on me?

Of late I find myself wrestling with rather odd questions; questions such as “Will I be ready for the real world after I have graduated?”, “Does it mean I am learned after my degree has been conferred on me?”, “Will I able to tender my resignation should I find the environment in which I work unfulfilling?”

Hard work and fun is what life is all about. Wouldn’t you agree? (A picture of Dumirocks)

Of all the students I feel sorry for, are those in my position. As the year draws to a close; for many people that means the preparation for end of year examination is in order, but for graduands the stress is mounting as they prepare for departure to the ‘real world’. Graduands find themselves wrestling with the idea of going to a place of employ or taking a gap-year in the exotic islands of Caribbean. The truth is these people are suffering from nervous conditions at this stage of their lives.

What really bothers most graduands is whether they are ready for the corporate world and the responsibilities that life after college offers. What will I be doing everyday of my life as a graduate and a professional. Many people who walked this path tell me that I am going to spend a better day at the premises of my employer, that sounds fantastic so long as I will grow both personally and professionally.

I did not initially plan to moan and nurse my anxiety concerning my prospects after the rector has given me a tap o the head and conferrers that Bachelor of Commerce. But what worries me is whether the University prepares its student adequately for the world outside college? As much as the health of the bank balance must always be favourable in order to enjoy the luxury of life, I hold a view that suggests that graduates ought to be socially responsible citizens, one which endeavors to critically challenge the status quo.

I wonder how will those charged with managing universities will react when I say that it is the university’s imperative to develop graduates that are highly sought-after, who are multi-faceted, are able to engage openly and think constructively and independently? Universities are academic institutions and as such students main focus must be centred around academics,getting good grades and to a lessor extent downing a glass of beer as I am doing in the picture embedded on this post. However, what benefit does it hold for a society if universities produce students who can simply read, learn and regurgitate information? I believe that university’s goal is to produce graduates that can critically analyse and question what is being shoved to them as established truth.

What does being learned mean? Does holding strings of degree define a learned man? What if he is irresponsible and self-centred with no interest on what is happening around him?

Politicians are quick to pronounce that educated people are needed to serve the needs of the economy (forget that most of these politicians academic credentials is questionable). A good friend of mine (@JustSaySid) holds a view that says we must educate people so as to prepare them to be full participants of democratic processes in this South Africa and that extend to debating a proposed green paper to doing a submission in either houses of parliament. Did I also mention that he wants to work for the Parliament of the Republic? This must be one patriotic chap! I, on the other hand honestly think that education can and should be able to inform people to discern reality from political ramblings, to appreciate life more by giving us the power to read for pleasure, write poetry to the standard of Pablo Neruda, compose music better that Beethoven or try to understand the world better and so on and so forth and stuff like that……

In all seriousness, to me education means development. Personal development and engagement in intellectually-charged conversations that seek to challenge those I interact with on a daily basis. After a number of years I have left this historic centre of learning named Stellenbosch University, I will be glad if I can be defined as learned by the virtue of the traits that I am an agent for social change, a responsible citizen, and individual who think independently, counter-culturally and open-mindedly. Learned I will consider my self…

But that’s enough from me. What do you think it means to be a learned individual?

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Leadership

 

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The sword of leadership is criticism, embrace it!

It is your birthday today and your significant other get you a nicely wrapped package with a note “Happy Birthday, With love X”. This gesture clarifies the appreciation and love that this person has for you. Likewise, leadership comes with its own packages, albeit not neat. Frustrating moments, tears, joys and criticism are part of what is in the leadership bag. In other times, a package with a note “My dear leader, with due respect, you suck and seriously so” adorn your ears. What do you do when you are encountered with such words? Do you take this criticism constructively  and fix your inequities or do you go on a defensive mode?

I am a young fellow, very young to have not witnessed Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island. In the past I have been a member of few societies on campus because it is in these societies that you drink wine [sic] and meet dazzling and radiantly beautiful ladies. However, moments later you realise that wine and cheese do not matter any more, and real issues needs to be confronted and addressed if circumstances permit. It is in this stage that problems arise and your character as a society leader gets tested. Senior members will hold you accountable to the very last word as promised by your annual plan of action.

At this hour wine glasses are broken and bottles empty. Fortunately enough the corkscrew is still intact – it is the human mind that is tinkered with fermented fruit juice. You, as a society leader might believe that the members’ questions or any utterances they throw are informed by the irrationality of fruity water they just consumed.

Those you lead will always have grievances with the manner in which you conduct business.They will seek clarity and question whatever looks suspicious and more often than not doing so while criticizing you. The emotional intelligence required by this turnouts from your team or members is that you embrace whatever criticism that might come your way.

My membership in these campus societies taught me that there will always be opinion leaders – often mistaken as echo-chambers – who will criticize you and question every line item on the financial report. In most cases their thoughts are valuable and emotionally charged. You need to keep calm, shut your mouth and open your ears when you are being criticized. When you have heard these “echo-chambers” you will be a better and effective leader. In fact keep these people at bay, never let them sail away from your harbour for they are the most important resource in your society.

You hear something along this lines “You are a pretty crappy leader”, take this constructively,  gather your thoughts, down a glass of water and give a calm response that is not driven by emotions!

The sword of leadership is criticism and your shield humility. Embrace it and do eat a humble pie should situations dictate!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Leadership

 

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