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Category Archives: Leadership

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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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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Everyone must attend a TEDx event…. inspiration inside!

I have  a dream. My dream is to speak at a TEDx event. I have a lot of passion I can speak about. Attending a TED Global conference would be like winning a lotto jackpot.

I only had an opportunity to attend a TEDx event. I can only share you my experience from attending a TEDx event. Enjoy…

One of the speakers and the CEO of Mxit, Allan Knott-Craig

We survive with a great deal of motivation. Whenever I seek a dose of inspiration, I switch on my computer and consume my downloaded TED Talks. When I heard that TEDxStellenbosch was to host its third annual event at Spier Wine Farm, my interest to attend was piqued. My university’s institute for leadership development, FVZS (short For  Frederick Van Zyl Slabert) sponsored me and other 19 cool people to attend the event on capacity as student leaders.

The theme of the Tedx event was What if Africa? Why what if Africa, you may wonder. This theme couldn’t have been suggested at a better time than this. Africa is a continent of a gloomy past, yet a bright future. Perhaps, if we start asking these questions, solutions that might drive change and inspire action might be born. Speakers gathered at the event and inspired attendees by asking visionary questions – questions that started with three words: What If Africa?

Not only was I particularly inspired as an attendee, but I was challenged to do the things that I strongly believe in. By the end of the day my mind was filled with a sense of wonder. I found myself being exposed to many new ideas and concepts including:

  • Taking pictures is an act in two direction
  • Internet can be used to conserve and advance environmental cause.
  • Economic prospects in Africa
  • How can Technology be used to stimulate interest in teaching and learning
  • Jonathan Shapiro asked a poignant question of “What if Africa embraced openness?

Question that attendees asked? What if Africa?

You see many people ignore opportunities such as this, not because they do not have time nor money to attend, but because they are not aware that these events offer an excellent networking opportunities. During breaks I found myself interacting with former Tedx Stellenbosch speakers and other thought leaders. My mind was fueled with new knowledge on the day.

The theme behind TED is “ideas worth spreading.” Just imagine how intellectually enriched we we going to be if we shared and spread ideas? I do not know the answer to that, but I believe that the quality of our thinking would improve and that would ultimately improve the quality of life in our communities.

The event itself was filled with diverse speakers from different backgrounds. They however, had one thing in common, the love for Africa and her development. Speakers displayed passion and fervor as they delivered their talks. It was interesting to be there. Here is my appeal, next time you see a call to attend a TEDx event, be the first one to grab a ticket. However cheap it is, however expensive it is, get that ticket anyway. Be inspired and share ideas.

If you were to deliver a TED talk what would your speaking topic be?

What if Africa encouraged its students to share and spread ideas in their campuses?

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Leadership

 

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Empower thy woman, ignore the brilliance of guys!

I am an ardent reader of a certain industry magazine called Accountancy SA. Those who have been fortunate to read the magazine will agree with me when I say it somewhat boring, somewhat interesting, and somewhat controversial. Am I writing a letter to the editor? Hell no, I am not.

Actually this post is about the empowerment of women and their leadership potential. In her article titled “women as authentic leaders”, Ms Mulder, Senior  Executive for Transformation and Growth at SAICA, wrote that “Women are ‘hard-wired’ to be authentic leaders, as most of these qualities are in-born. Our male compatriots are too often hindered by oversized egos and the need to compete, which is reflected in the troubled societies of today”. After reading this, I got an impression that Ms Mulder suggests that the world is in chaos it is because of men. Interesting…

I feel like more and more women are empowered this days. It can be argued that this is done to address the imbalances of the past. I am not insensitive to the fact that women were oppressed for far too  long, however the empowerment afforded to women comes with great cost of ignoring the brilliance of guys. These women are obviously empowered to be able to fend for themselves, to become authentic leaders as Ms Mulder puts it and more importantly to contribute to humankind.

The question we should then be asking is “Are more women becoming leaders, given the opportunities they are offered or is it still an investment in vain?” I am of the opinion that, even though great deal of investment is planted in developing women and their leadership capacity, the train is moving slow on the rail.

Ms Sheryl Sandberg – the COO of Facebook – diagnose the problem as to why we have few women leaders, and the answer lies in the video embedded below:

On conclusion, I believe that in order to live in thriving, sustainable society, we need to get away with the gender stereotype, because to do so is to ignore the brilliance of guys.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Leadership

 

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In the days of our youth

Where is better life promised to us?

The book penned by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities  opens with a line that is full of contradictions that reads as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Every time when I hear about the agonising stories of the poor South African youth, I wonder aloud why are we still taking a back seat in the issues that affects young people. Stories like half of the unemployed are youth, the majority of the graduates are still unemployed and the rate at which drug and other substance abuse is so rife amongst these people. Personally, I am quite a conversationalist and many a times I find myself sparking debates on subjects that makes those I converse with uncomfortable. The advantage of doing so is that you get different views from different people and you end up with a through understanding of wide variety of subject matters.

I refer you back to the opening paragraph of this article? Which kind of times are South African youth living in? (is it worse or best of times?). The theme of that opening line by Charles Dickens in his book “A Tale of Two Cities” is TIME. Time is of the essence here, and perhaps what we need to explore is whether South African government is delivering for its people. Do the moral compass of those charged with governance in the cabinet care about the well being of ordinary South Africans in general and of youth in particular?

What would happen if the youth of South Africa start being characterized by the following qualities Think|Dream|Lead?

Leading and ruling in the days of our youth must be the most interesting activity to do. I mean the youth of this country are very chilled, apathetic about the developmental issues concerning them and they seem not to challenge the status quo. Very few young people participate in diplomacy issues and social enterprises to name but two. They never seem to complain. The question I am pondering on in this post is “have the youth of the country thrown a towel or are they just apathetic?”

The wealth of knowledge and intellect that is lost in the street is astounding because of rising unemployment rate especially amongst young graduates. The elephant in  the room here is unemployment and as soon as many young people realise that, it will be the start of something that would be historical. Are we immune to protest against the government? Are we scared? I do not doubt even for a moment that the day the youth of this country realise that they are being taken for a ride by the government of the day ‘mark my words’ we will witness a very huge protests.

Moeletsi Mbeki, the author of Architect of Poverty: Why Africa’s capitalism needs changing, is promoting the idea that argues that South Africa is facing the possibility of greater social upheaval due to high levels of youth unemployment. In fact, according to Statistics South Africa, 72% of the unemployed are between the ages of 15-34 years old. I tend to agree with the Predictions made by Mr. Mbeki owing the fact that – spatially speaking – poorer communities are dominated by service delivery protests this days that usually ends in horrible fatalities and some of the local councillors perish as a result.

It very possible, for what is being predicted by leading social analyst that the Arab-Spring type of activity might emerge in South Africa. Will it be difficult to organised such a protest? I do not think so considering the fact that coordinating protest in poorer communities is an everyday phenomena and this can further be enhanced by technological advancement such as smart phones and social networks.

In my humble self, I honestly think that we are sitting on a ticking tine bomb with a ring of fire in the vicinity.

To those young men and women who have done their duty and still remain unemployed, I say “Dream a whole lot louder”. A lot louder in a sense that you should use your intellectual rigour to engage with any power that might be to challenge the status quo!!

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Economics, General, Leadership

 

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If there were ever a time to dare…

I think in my former life I was a writer, a published author. Dreaming? probably! scary? Very.

Appropriated from the twitter page of Dumisani Mahlangu (www.twitter.com/dumirocks)

Why do I believe this assertion you may wonder. I believe this assertion to be true because I am an avid reader, and there is an established notion that writers are religious readers. It is not my intention to state that I am a religious reader, but I am an avid reader nonetheless.

I am one person who prefers to read a book than watching a boring program on tell-lie-vision [Television].

One of this lazy days while reading a book I stumbled upon a line that moved my soul and continues to inspire me greatly to this age. Let me take a liberty of quoting it in its entirety and hope that it inspires you to follow your dream and aspirations.

If you follow the Apple brand and its beauty inventions you might know the quote. If you don know it it is not a train smash. relax, grab a beer and continue reading this post.

The quote below is adapted in its entirety from a Macintosh computer ad, 1991. Read it and on a comment box below, tell me what moves your soul. Stay inspired…

If there were ever a time to dare, to make a difference, to embark on something worth doing, it is now.
Not for any grand cause, necessarily- but for something that tugs at your heart, something that’s your aspiration, something that’s your dream.

You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.
Have fun.
Dig Deep.
Stretch.
Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
There will be times when you want to turn around, pack it up, and call it quits. those times tell you that you are pushing yourself, that you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Persist.

Because with an idea, determination, and the right tools, you can do great things.
Let your instincts, your intellect, and your heart guide you.

Trust.

Believe in the incredible power of the human mind.
Of doing something that makes a difference.
Of working hard.
Of laughing and hoping.
Of lazy afternoons.
Of lasting friends.
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.

The start of something new brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.
There is only one you.

And you will pass this way only once.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in General, Leadership

 

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