Monthly Archives: Januarie 2012

“… a social system that puts individualism and greed above all else and goes against the grain of the ideals of a humane society”

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Ek het ’n uittreksel van Kgalema Motlanthe se toespraak by die ANC feesvieringe in die onlangse Sunday Times gelees en geniet en haal ’n soortgelyke uittreksel hierso aan. Hy waarsku teen kapitalisme as “… a social system that puts individualism and greed above all else and goes against the grain of the ideals of a humane society”:

For centuries, democracy has been serving as the best integument for the system of capitalism.

However, developments within the Euro Zone have now dispensed with some of the key elements of democracy by prompting change of governments without going through elections as has happened in Greece and Italy.

What these developments do is call into question concepts that have until now been universally accepted as axiomatic.

These developments have global implications and do not only tax the mind of our intellectuals but certainly challenge our young democracy and our continent in profound ways.

Perhaps these developments present a challenge to the South African and indeed African intellectuals to figure out the practical implications for Africa in terms of democracy and economic development.

On this account, the ANC is aware that as it continues to fight poverty, unemployment and social inequalities, it is doing so under historically given economic conditions over which it has little control.

The serious limitations of the socio-economic system on what can be achieved cannot be under-estimated.

South Africa attained democracy 18 years ago and was welcomed into the world community of nations; a world whose global economic system was beginning to experience chronic and vicious cycle of crises.

We have to learn from history of progressive movements elsewhere in the world in terms of post-colonial experience and how they have tried to modernise themselves to deal with present day challenges.

In this regard, the progressive movement in post-colonial India seems to offer useful experience.

The Indian intellectual PC Joshi tells us that:

Indian nationalism has a future only as a vehicle of the newly awakened urges and aspirations of the Indian masses for socio-economic emancipation which are now thwarted by growing structural dualism.

In parallel situation, the ANC in leading revolutionary nationalism faces similar historical conditions.

In the past people were their own liberators and still remain so today. Consequently, success in our duties is contingent upon transformation being people-centred and people-driven.

Among others, the ANC must studiously avoid substituting itself and its leaders for the people; instead it must be a vehicle of the people’s aspirations.

Despite these structural limitations we have to overcome the legacy of apartheid relations. Because without social justice freedom will remain hollow, the pastime of the well-heeled.

National oppression and its social consequences cannot be resolved by formal democracy underpinned by market forces.

While formal democracy may present opportunities for some blacks and women to advance, without a systematic national effort, led by the democratic government, to unravel the skewed distribution of wealth and income, the social reality of apartheid will remain in place.

By the same token, the value system that inheres in and defines a socio-economic system that frames the democratic state presents a counterpoint to the historically noble heritage introduced by the ANC.

This is reflected in the material acquisitiveness that has enveloped the outlook of society, including some of us in the ANC today.

No less a figure than George Soros hit the nail on the head in this regard when he held that:

Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value. What is more expensive is considered better. The value of a work of art can be judged by the price it fetches. People deserve respect and admiration because they are rich. What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values, reversing the relationship postulated by economic theory. What used to be professions have turned into businesses. The cult of success has replaced a belief in principles. Society has lost its anchor.

To paraphrase the core argument of Soros, money defines the value of everything; it prompts the relentless pursuit of material riches to assert human value.

As a leading social force aiming to exterminate social conditions that breed under-development, the ANC cadres must remain vigilant lest they be sucked into the vortex of the socio-economic system which defines our era.

It is a social system that puts individualism and greed above all else and goes against the grain of the ideals of a humane society.

This socio-economic system has foisted an antithetical cultural outlook that puts premium on the money agenda; an agenda that reflects material riches as the point of departure.

This is the story of our past. As they say the past we inherit the future we create!

uit die Public Lecture Entitled Reflections on the Centenary of the African National Congress (ANC) Delivered by the Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, University of South Africa, Pretoria,

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Nogals pitkos om aan te dink as jy op die punt staan om te studeer of te werk: te dikwels is ons dryfveer geld; te selde die inherente waarde van dít wat ons wil doen.

leierskap, innovasie en gras

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Tydens ontbyt met ’n kollega gesels ons oor innovasie – ’n woord en daad wat ’n rukkie terug meer in vogue was as tans. “Geleidelike innovasie is maklik,” sê hy, “maar om radikaal te innoveer, glad nie.”

’n Mens kan prosesse yk en verfyn, stroomlyn en gladder olie – maar om radikaal te vernuwe en heeltemal weg te breek van dít wat die norm was, is besonder uitdagend, veral by ’n groot plek waar verskillende afdelings afhanklik is van mekaar.

Hy gebruik ’n goeie voorbeeld van radikale innovasie en vertel van ’n grassnyerfabriek wat jaar in en jaar uit beter grassnyers maak: die lemme raak skerper en elektrisiteitsgebruik effektiewer; die handvatsels duursamer en die beskikbare modelle meer gedifferensiëerd. Geleidelik innoveer hulle dus en word jaar-op-jaar beter, soos wat ’n goeie onderneming betaam.

Maar radikale vernuwing by ’n grassnyfabriek is ’n game changer: dit is as hulle gras begin kweek wat nooit lank word nie; nooit gesny hoef te word nie en vanself kort bly.

(Daar is sekerlik ’n paar ander moontlikhede ook wat kan lei tot relatief drastiese vlakke van vernuwing: nuwe ligter, goedkoper, meer duursame materiaal om grassnyers mee te maak, tegnologie wat die vervaardigingsproses ingrypend verander, of bv. outonome grassnyrobotte wat sonder mense die gras self sny, maar sy voorbeeld van ’n kortgrasvariëteit is nogals kragtig – dit verander die spelreëls vir ’n hele sakesektor.)

Nou hoe nou?

Eerstens is dit nie maklik vir ’n organisasie om voortdurend die grondbeginsels van sy bestaan te bevraagteken en krities daaroor te dink nie. Tweedens is dit nie maklik om lateraal te dink en bewus te wees van ontwikkelinge elders waarby jou organisasie kan baatvind nie. En derdens is dit nie maklik om vir werknemers te verduidelik dat hulle tipe werk drasties kan verander nie: mense hou van sekerheid; hulle is creatures of habit wat swaar kou aan verandering – moontlike posbenaminge en -veranderinge hou heelwat onsekerheid in.

Ten opsigte van ontwikkeling en bestuur is dit makliker om geleidelik beter sisteme en prosesse te ontwikkel, eerder as om radikale innovasie te implementeer … maar dis die ingrypende vernuwings wat die grootste impak maak op wie ons is en wat ons doen.

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In die studenteleierskapskonteks sukkel ons ook met vernuwing.

Tans is dit weer die verwelkomingstydperk op ons tradisionele kampusse. Nuweling-eerstejaarstudente word deur derde- en vierdejaarstudente wat as leiers in hulle omgewings aangewys is, ontvang en op kampus rondgelei.

Herhaaldelik in gesprekke met studenteleiers hoor ’n mens van tradisies en praktyke wat “weggeneem” word; ’n mens hoor die versugting van verlies, omdat eerstejaars nie meer gedoop of ingelyf word nie. Oral sien jy nog seniors met baarde wat in diep stemme in ’n streng stemtoon met die nuweling-eerstejaarstudente praat; jy sien nuweling-eerstejaarstudenet wat in rye staan en attent luister en geesliedjies sing. Jarre wat nie op die gras mag stap nie “as ’n teken van respek”.

Tot ’n groot mate leef ons gelyktydig in twee wêrelde: in die wêreld waar die kortgrasvariëteit reeds geplant is, maar ons steeds mense oplei om grassnyers te vervaardig. Ons lewe in ’n demokratiese, oop en kritiese bestel, maar verwag nog steeds gehoorsame, onkritiese navolgers wat luister na seniorstudente. Suid-Afrika het radikaal verander, maar ons sukkel nog steeds twintig jaar later.

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Die dood hang in die lug soos roosmaryn

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16 Maart 2012 Weer opgedateer. Nogals drasties gewysig:

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in the garden moist with herbs

and so we die unceremoniously
as if suspended in a web of
fine lines finely trembling
in the wake of a tender breath

as if suspended in a web of
mist
in the wake of a tender breath
we drift between leaves, earth

mist
fine lines finely trembling
we drift between leaves, earth
and so we die unceremoniously

in the garden moist with herbs

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31 Januarie 2012 Hierso is my mees onlangse weergawe van hierdie gedig. Lees gerus van die stimulus wat my skryfproses geprompt het en kyk na my verskillende herskryf-probeerslae tot dusver. Wat ek hou van hierdie weergawe is dat ek bietjie meer detail ingebring het (van die roosmaryn-blare) en meer gespeel het met woorde (soos time and spaced) om bietjie meer gravitas aan die dood te probeer verleen:

the spider dies unceremoniously
suspended in its web
trembling slightly in the waking breeze
its fine hairs glazed with bright dust

suspended in its web
almost alive; hanging by a thread
its fine hairs glazed with bright dust
adrift in time and spaced between rosemary leaves

almost alive; hanging by a thread
trembling slightly in the waking breeze
adrift in time and spaced between rosemary leaves
the spider dies unceremoniously

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27 Januarie 2012 Ek het gister in ’n geplukte roosmaryntak in ’n vaas op my kombuiswasbak-vensterrak twee spinnekoppe sien sit, toegeweef in hulle spinnerakke van blaar tot blaar.

Gewoonlik laat ek spinnekoppe begaan, maar helaas nie gister nie. Ek vat ’n spuitkan-gif en spuit die lyfies wit. En oombliklik sak een se pootjie lam en die ander een omgekeer-verstrik.

Dis nogals treffend só ’n dood waar die spinnekoppe eintlik steeds lewend lyk, en twee versreëls kom skielik by my op: the spider dies unceremoniously | suspended in its web. Vanoggend speel ek toe verder en brei die gedagte uit tot ’n pantoen:

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the spider dies unceremoniously
suspended in its web
its fine body glazed with poison
hanging by a thread

suspended in its web
almost alive, but still and dead
hanging by a thread
clinging to its end

almost alive, but still and dead
its fine body glazed with poison
clinging to its end
the spider dies unceremoniously

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28 Januarie 2012 Nog ontevrede met die herhalingsritme en oorloop van die reëls, skommel ek hulle toe verder op, maar is nog nie tevrede nie:

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almost alive, but very still and very dead
the spider dies unceremoniously
its fine body glazed with poison
suspended in its web

the spider dies unceremoniously
as time passes by
suspended in its web
hanging by a thread

as time passes by
its fine body glazed with poison
hanging by a thread
almost alive, but very still and very dead

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Enige raad hiermee?

Onthou, my Engels is maar vrot!

heelbreindenke

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Om denke te verstaan, onderskei mense dikwels tussen linker- en regterbreindenke: jou logiese, analitiese vermoë teenoor jou kreatiewe, skeppende vaardigheid. Dit is ’n handige konstruk – en met eenvoudige aksies (soos om met jou nie-dominante hand te skets of skryf) kan jy jouself inoefen om geredelik van denkmodus te verwissel.

Linker-regter brein is ’n handige konstruk – maar ek vermoed jou breinfunksies is wel meer verweefd as wat die linker-regter onderskeid veronderstel. Nietemin.

My hipotese is dat, vir leer om so effektief as moontlik plaas te vind, jy so gereeld as moontlik ’n wisseling tussen die logies-wiskundige, sistematiese manier van dink – en die speelse, skeppende vrye assosiatiewe wyses van dink, moet aanmoedig: jy moet jou kop kan oopmaak en lateraal dink en dan jou idees orden en uitdun en dan weer oopmaak in ’n iteratiewe proses.

Dis hoekom, voel ek, ’n mens speel moet inbou by jou werkplek, hoekom jy poësie moet onderrig nie net deur ou meesters se werk te analiseer nie, maar deur mense eers te laat skryf en sukkel – en dan te laat lees en die truuks van die meesters ontdek – en dan weer skryf en nog idees genereer, uitdun en weer probeer.

Te gereeld word alle spel en pret van ’n leervak gestroop tot jy oorbly met ongekontekstualiseerde feite. Te gereeld bemoei ons werknemers met pretlose opdragte en verwag dat hulle net linkerbreinagtig in werksplekke moet omgaan.

Die taak van opvoeders, voel ek, is om so slim as moontlik leerders te kry om ten volle met ’n engaged mind die wêreld krities te beskou. Om neurondraadjies oor beide lobbe te span.