Monday, 15 September 2014

Father Desmond Reaches 80

Desmond Tutu has been called many names – archbishop, voice of the voiceless, rabble rouser, and others that are not repeatable!

He is probably liked more among whites than among blacks at this stage.  Put another way, he has been consistently disliked by those in power – previously whites and now blacks.

His face is etched in global awareness, as distinctive as Colonel Saunders founder of KFC.

He tried to withdraw from public life, but keeps making comebacks!

He gave his permission in 2006 to let us re-name C4L in his honour.  The proviso was that he could not get actively involved.

C4L chose him for 6 reasons.  He is African.  He is a person of faith.  He has remained in civil society, not entered the public sector.  He started in service delivery (as a teacher) and moved into advocacy (for justice).  He was and is courageous.  He engages the powers.  For these reasons he became C4L’s icon… our champion, our hero.

He wrote a book called God is not a Christian.  Food for thought.

He has a way of being totally unorthodox while still wearing that traditional old dog collar!

He wrote this poem, Victory is Ours:

Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

In his collection called An African Prayer Book, his poem above is followed by another from Bread for Tomorrow, in Kenya.  It is called Deliver Me:

From the cowardice that dare not face new truths
From the laziness that is contented with half truths
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth
Good Lord deliver me.


Here’s the challenge… to give 80 bucks to commemorate this special occasion.  This will help with some C4L development costs that cannot be funded by grants.  In other words, the “general fund”.  Grant funding is a mixed blessing – they increase an NGO’s volumes but they also come with stringent spending limitations.  So “unallocated funding” is very useful.

In Canada, mark your gifts clearly for C4L and send them to:

Reachout To Africa
Parkgate RPO

PO Box 30052

North Vancouver, BC

V7H 2Y8

In South Africa, make a deposit to C4L’s account at Standard Bank:

    Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership
    Branch code: 05 28 52 43
    Account number: 0302 82713

The big birthday is October 7th.  Visit C4L on that day for an Open House!  Hoyo hoyo!

Long live Desmond Tutu!

Getting it right

C4L seems to be ending a 2-year period of consolidation and starting to grow again.  The big news is that before Oct 7th, it will complete the graduation of 80 youth with accredited training on campus in 2011!  This is from the Livelihood Security Unit.

Before the end of the year, two other accredited training courses are coming on line for 2012:

End User Computing – a segment of our Organization Development programme
Social Auxiliary Worker – a new umbrella for youth deployed in community service

The strategic focus on youth seems to be a propos in the light of the “jobless recovery” to global economic recession.  C4L’s approach mixes economic empowerment with social service.  Especially in terms of the water emergency and the energy crisis, youth need to take ownership because their generation will be affected by these more than their forbears.

The rotational “acting up” has been working well.  Instead of a CEO, the “CEO-ship” is being shared on a rotating basis.  This is giving the Senior Management Team more opportunities to stretch and grow.

This month C4L is joined by two young Europeans volunteers.  Julia just arrived from Germany for one year, to carry the torch of the On-line Mentoring project.  Wendy is arriving soon from the UK for 3 months to help get the next two accredited training courses ready.

The work of C4L is never far from Desmond Tutu’s prayer about “the cowardice that dare not face new truths”.  The new generation has to conserve resources like water and energy more than their short-sighted forbears.  Youth need to gain entry to the work place much sooner that they are presently able to.  The “digital divide” between North and South is widening not narrowing.  Social work as a profession needs to find more room for young auxiliaries.  C4L is at there forefront of these efforts – where it should be.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Mohamed Bouazizi and Andries Tekane Day

Tomorrow is Freedom Day.  This bulletin is about two African youth, one Muslim, one Christian… freedom fighters.

Has anybody here
Seen my old friend Bouazizi?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He inspired a lot of people
It seems the good, they die young
I just turned around
And he’s gone!

In the latest issue of The Thinker, Dr. Essop Pahad waxes eloquent about Tunisia:

“Tunisia is an African country.  Its glorious history of Carthage and Hannibal is part of our African heritage… Tunisia was one of the first countries in Africa, in 1956, to wrest its political independence from France.  It is one of the founding members of the OAU and later the AU.  Now, 55 years after that glorious event in our continent, Africa should take pride in the heroic actions of the people of Tunisia.

“An unemployed university graduate Mohamed Bouazizi is harassed, assaulted, humiliated and forcibly prevented from earning a meager income by selling fruits and vegetables.  In desperation and in an action of defiance he sets himself on fire.  This act of self-immolation triggered demonstrations by his family in Sidi Bouzid.  They were joined by hundreds of people, mainly young, in their protests.  Very rapidly this demonstration spread like wild-fire throughout the country and eventually brought down the President.

“This young hero, Mohamed Bouazizi, will forever be credited with inspiring the overthrow of the 23-year old regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.  Under this regime Tunisia had been lauded and fĂȘted as a very successful, wealthy, fast-growing economy; and according to an IMF report it was the “most competitive economy in Africa”and ranked 40th in the world.

“Progressive organizations and individuals, including journalists, were subject to arbitrary arrest, detention and torture.  This iron-fisted rule was the bedrock of an economy that spawned massive inequality between rich and poor, high unemployment rates, including many jobless university graduates, ever-increasing prices of basic commodities and a serious lack of any form of redistribution…

“The developments in Tunisia are earth-shattering.  They have had a massive impact, for the good, in Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and other countries in Africa and the Middle East.  Mohamed Bouazizi and the other martyrs did not die in vain.  Whatever happens, Tunisia will never be the same.  The democratic process cannot be halted, neo-colonialism has suffered a huge blow and autocratic regimes in Africa and the Middle East are feeling the heat.  However, the forces of neo-colonialism and monopoly capital may still take advantage of current instability to push for the establishment of new governments sympathetic to their interests, thus threatening the independence of these countries and the democratic rights of their people.”

The problem with Colonialism was foreign interference.  The Ben Ali regime was independent, so no one intervened - while people were denied their freedom.  Is booming economic growth reason enough for the hands-off approach to human rights abuses?  What does that say about what matters most?

The last C4L Bulletin contained the sad news of another death, another sacrifice, another young African who wanted a better deal for the poor. 

Has anybody here
Seen my old friend Tatane?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He mobilized a lot of people
It seems the good, they die young
I just turned around
And he’s gone!

Disparity in South Africa is phenomenal.  Driving along the R21 highway this week from Pretoria to Joburg, I observed so many huge mansions sprouting up on the hill by Irene Mall, then within minutes the sprawling township of Tembisa.  It is graphic to the point of being shocking.  Someone described South Africa as a First World Country and a Third World Country occupying the same space.

But the same is true in global terms!  This week I also retuned to Africa from Europe – it’s just as graphic.  Is anyone “free” in a society or a world like that?

Andries Tatane was on the right track.. There is a Myth of Spontaneous Development.  It doesn’t just happen, it gets kick-started – by facilitation, activism and resources.  In fact “intervention” actually means that someone has to “come between”.  So Tatane was out there, protesting the lack of service delivery.  There are risks in being a freedom fighter.

It has often been said that if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.  If our convictions and values allow us to stand by and watch while people’s rights are  denied, then we are guilty of passivism, maybe even fatalism.  Ouch!  Not everyone is a volunteer, but Voluntarism offers so many diverse ways to get involved.

In the days when there were still Second World Countries (the Communist Bloc as these were also called) there used to be dissidents and occasionally, defectors.  Then Alexander Solzhenitsyn started writing books about the Gulag… then glasnost… then perestroika… and a New World Order.  Migration is now booming – causing a brain drain for Africa.

Earlier cries of Uhuru! (freedom) turned to Amandla! (power) under Apartheid.  The Struggle was not just for liberation but for empowerment.  Now the question is being raised whether BEE (black economic empowerment) is going over the top?  Pallo Jordan once wrote that the purpose of affirmative action was to create circumstances in which affirmative action would no longer be needed.  It is a means, not an end.  But there are concerns that it is becoming a destination, not just a journey - a permanent feature of the landscape. Will the time come when the adjective “positive” will dropped from in front of “discrimination”. Does it dignify people to be selected by that criteria, and not competency?!  Is entitlement “freedom”?