Saturday, 22 February 2014

Note from 83–97 Stella Street in Sandton

So what's with the title I hear you ask?  I've just started experimenting with Evernote to capture notes, I hadn't decided what to title this blogpost so had left it blank - this is the title it came up when I saved it and I liked it, so I kept it.  Based I assume on where the GPS in my iPad says I am as I type.  To satisfy my pedantry I'll note that the hotel is actually on Maude street but it's close and there is some tree cover where I am that may not be helping.

We had our first team meeting today for the #ibmcsc South Africa 11 team and a trip to the IBM Johannesburg office to talk with some of the local IBMers about our time here in South Africa.

Great to meet all the rest of the team, with the sad exception of one member who has hit a delay on their visa so hasn't been able to travel yet - hopefully will be able to join us soon.

Super also to have the chance to talk with some local IBMers and a take a "before" photo of the team.    Struck by diversity of the team ( hailing as we do from 7 different countries) and how appropriate that is as we come to the "Rainbow Nation" to work on our projects.
Rainbow Team for the Rainbow Nation
Next we headed for the Apartheid Museum and a few hours of immersing ourselves in some of South Africa's history.  Shortly before coming here I finished reading Nelson Mandela's book "Long walk to freedom".  It's a very long book about a very long walk, a fascinating read throughout and one I would thoroughly recommend for its insight and perspective.  Museum had lots of engaging and moving information on the system of apartheid that was in place and the struggles to remove it.  

As you would no doubt expect it is a very thought provoking place to visit, here are a couple of the thoughts it triggered for me personally.
  • I'm pretty much the same age now as Nelson Mandela was when he was sentenced to life imprisonment.  It is hard to leave your friends and family to come away for a month, I know that on this trip I will miss various events and family birthdays.  Could I hold true to my beliefs if the consequence was being cut off from them for decades instead?  I don't think one can ever truly tell unless faced with the situation but it is what one might term "a big ask".
  • I was a student at Wadham College in Oxford between 1985 and 1988 and was certainly aware of the campaign to "Free Nelson Mandela", the song of that name being played at the end of every student "bop" in the college, a tradition which I believe continues to this day.  As one of the more politically active student bodies Wadham certainly had a good number of people campaigning for his release.  It was not something however that I ever got personally involved with.  Learning more about the topic does certainly make me reflect back on that time.... It's not so much that I ever actively decided not to do something but rather that I never decided to do anything. We are constantly surrounded by campaigns and issues clamouring for our attention that raise complex issues but can that really be an excuse not to get involved? 
 As one of my colleagues noted there are a lot of very wise and inspiring quotes attributed to Nelson Mandela so I'll close with one of my favourites from the many I have seen today.

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedoms of others."    
Nelson Mandela June 1999

No comments:

Post a Comment