Cry Freedom - how much have we forgotten...

I recently returned from a rather distressing visit to Dar es Salaam, being robbed and the accociated ordeal to get my life back in order.  On my flight back from Nairobi to South Africa, I decided to watch a movie on the new inflight entertainment system of Kenya Airways, maybe just to get my mind of things for a while.

To my surprise they had Sir Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom as part of their selection of movies, possibly because of his passing away that same week.

This brought back so many memories.  I still recall the day clearly when the movie was released in South Africa on 30 July 1988 after months of struggling to get approval for the release.  On the day of the release we had these mysterious bomb threats at the about 30 theatres where the movie would have been screened.  This resulted in the movie being banned immediately and the police seizing all copies of the movie.  Two bombs actually went off and the police used their infamous "in the interest of public safety" as a reason to overrule the Publication Appeals Board's approval to seize the material.

I was lucky to get hold of a copy of the book based on the movie at that time.  We were all getting ready to go an watch the movie, so reading the book was the next best thing one could do as so much other literature was still banned in those days.  While watching "Cry Freedom" it brought back so many memories of those days when we were living in a severely oppressed society.

It made me realise how free we have actually become in being able to express ourselves and say what we need to say without the fear of being victimised, or even jailed merely because we have an opinion or want to change the world we are living in.  Or are are we?

Are we really that free, or are we still shackled by the indoctrination of half a century of active and brutal oppression?  Are we only euphoric about the South African miracle yet in reality very little has changed in the lives of millions of South Africans?

"So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior." - Steve Biko

Steve Biko was one of they great leaders of the rise against Apartheid which the government of the day tried to silence at all cost, eventually resulting in his death in police custody.

When I look at our leadership today, it is only shameful and disgusting on what is happening in this country.  How we are perpetuating race, how we keep ourselves divided and how we cannot get over the "us and them" concept in our society.

We are all South Africans now.  We must accept each other as we are and forgot about the fact that we may look different in appearance.  We need to actively reach out to one another.  We are all human afterall.

"In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift - a more human face." - Steve Biko

Our great leaders are now all gone.  The new leaders are mostly in the game for themselves.  They have ravaged and destroyed the principles of movements such as the African National Congress.  The African National Congress as the ruling party in fact resembles the National Party more often today, and it is getting worse.

Every week more attempts are being made in undermining the Constitution and trampling on the rights of the people of this country, the very same people that still believe change will happen.  The same way the Apartheid government kept people uneducated, and manipulated education to become a low grade institution for a part of the population, the very same way freedom of access to quality education is being manipulated today.

"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." - Steve Biko

As long as people are not educated, they are not free.  That is how the minds of people continue to be controlled because without this manipulation, you cannot stay in power when you do not deliver and when you fail your citizens.

My hope is in the new generation of young people in this country.  People who are not being manipulated by politicians, people that will think for themselves, people that will look critically at what is happening.

Our young people of today must realise they have so much power to enable change. You need to focus on your education as a cornerstone to build knowledge.  You have to learn about our great leaders and how they have overcome so many things against all the odds.

Most important: Become our leaders of the future so that one day someone will write about the great leaders in South Africa of the 21st century, and no longer about the leadership we had and lost in the 20th century.


It is not often that I have an afternoon free. Today I have the day off, well sort of.

One of my employees here in Tanzania has his graduation ceremony today. I have been invited, but I know it is for the photographs I will take this afternoon. Not that I mind at all. It gave me a good excuse to get out of my hotel room.

While waiting for things to get going I made my self at home at Mlimani City's Samaki-Samaki hangout.

This place has an unbelievable relaxed atmosphere. It is going to take a lot of effort today to get back to my hotel.

A large part of the restaurant area is made from these local wooden carved kayaks converted into tables. Chairs are made from palm tree stumps.

Then there is the food. They really do take their time but it is worth the wait. Mostly seafood and always fresh. I had fish here before and it was out of this world. As I did not had a proper beef ham burgers in weeks, I decided I will try one this time around.

Although predominantly a fish restaurant, they may make burgers. A more tasty and finely grind meat patty I have not had before.

My thumbs up for Samaki-Samaki. So if you ever make it to Dar Es Salaam, make sure you schedule at least one lunch or dinner here.


Internet Censorship limits Free Speech - full stop!

Globally the governments of most countries are now really getting ridiculous in trying to censor the internet. The only reason why this is happening is because ordinary people now have a voice, and that voice is powerful.

The Internet can help to change perceptions, it can open the minds of many where they previously have been denied this information.  Ordinary People now have access to information and they can make change happen.

Often such a change will result in a change of government. This is actually the true reason why now on a global scale there is this push by many governments to introduce legislation that will limit access to information.  They do not want ordinary citizens to have real power.  They started to realise that freedom of access to information and knowledge will change our world and often those governments that are trying to enforce many forms of censorship.

We see this being implemented in many different ways, but the end goal is to control information and what people can get access to.  We have seen how social media and the internet facilitated the "Arab Spring" and very soon there was a renewed urgency, especially with Western Governments, to implement new legislation.

I believe that we are at the beginning of the end of the current status quo, the current world order, in what way the world works and functions, the way we see different countries, social and economic systems.

The Internet is connecting people now in such a way that the world has become borderless, where the policies and norms of many countries and governments are being questioned.

This is a change process that has started, and will continue gradually and gain momentum over the next few years.  Many governments will try their best to stop this from happening but eventually this change in the world order will just be too strong.

This gives one great power to think that ordinary people will change the world.  At the end our society should become a knowledge driven world where the racial, social, cultural, religious and political differences are irrelevant.  There should no longer be these ridiculous causes through country, religion and race that people are being manipulated to die for. 

Go forth, imagine with love and you will change your world.

A return to Apartheid type tyranny?

Reading the comments of minister Minister Siyabonga Cwele in News24 brought back so many memories of how the stupid National Party tried to hide so many truths to the South Africa public, which in those days were the "white public" and they dearly fell for it.

Minister, stop lying!  No one will believe that type of bullshit unless you are completely uneducated or a moron.  We as sane South Africans can no longer keep quiet and accept this type of nonsense being played about in front of our eyes.

If we do, we have no right to our citizenship in this country.  We will become just as complacent as when the National Party rammed various pieces of legislation through parliament to get Apartheid implemented since 1948.

It does not matter how the Government wants to sugar coat this law, it is a big FARCE! It is the first step in carving away at those rights that so many people died for, and many of them were ANC members. 

Any person who supports this law has something to hide. What has happened the past week in passing this piece of legislation in parliament can only be described as a complete disgrace and slap in the face of all those victims of apartheid. The ANC has become the National Party! No wonder they merged with them a few years ago, which in itself was such a disappointing and repulsive act. 

South Africans, please be aware - this is a typical first step in a government taking away those rights that many people died for. Every citizen has the obligation to object to this in the strongest sense and reject this legislation in its entirety. 

We said never ever again, but now, it is starting again. 

WAKE UP South Africa, the public response to this from the general public has in fact been exceptionally complacent.

This government needs and exceptional strong message: YOU ARE THE SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE, not the other way around. You WILL listen to the PEOPLE, and YOU WILL RESPECT OUR Constitution. 

If you don't, you are out, and if you cling to that power, you will be forced out with what ever means the citizens have to take. But we will NOT go back to where we came from. 

People have the power, we need to realise how quickly we can use that to facilitate any form of change.

Take part in every opportunity to demonstrate your opposition to this new pending law.  Be brave enough to ignore the consequences of breaking this law by demonstrating civil disobedience.  We just cannot allow this to happen, and we have to fight this at all cost.

Ignoring this, and just be complacent about the fact that it happened will have dire consequences for us all in the future.  Every person has a duty to stand up and fight for these rights that so many other people died for.

Go forth, protest and disobey!


Cherish our Teachers - they enable the future

I came to Vienna, Austria, this week for a single purpose: to be part of something that my German teacher of 25 years ago started.

I was part of a group of students that had the opportunity to travel to German speaking countries on a school exchange programme. It was my first journey outside of the borders of South Africa, the first of many more to come. It was an event that changed my life forever.

Instead of living a life planned with specific requirements you thought you were destined to do, my life changed into a journey that included a few roller coaster rides along the way. I will never want to change it. I made many mistakes, but instead of seeing these as failures they became those necessary training lessons you need in life.

About two years ago I was on a short stay in Vienna on my way back from a conference. While reflecting one evening on how I actually got there and still manage to speak German I decided to look up my teacher from so many years ago.

So I googled. I managed to find Alet Conradie at the Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I later learned about this tour she was planning to Vienna for her current students. I knew I had to be there. And so it happened that my usual June holiday that also includes my birthday coincided with their tour to Austria and Germany.

To get back to the original topic: I realised during the past few days how this teacher of mine still keeps on motivating her students to go so much further, think outside of the box, and to keep on exploring their worlds. She does not spoon feed them with endless instructions, but rather give them enough information, knowledge and guidance so that they can do things themselves and keep on discovering this world, each in their own unique way.

After all these years even myself still keep on learning from her. At this specific occasion two groups of students were put together - one from South Africa and one from Poland. I now also need to mention their teacher, Justyna Sobota. Even though I managed to get to know her only for about three days, she is clearly of the same calibre.

The way Alet Conradie managed to get these two groups of students to start to interact with each other demonstrated the skillfulness she continues to apply when working with diverse students. Teachers achieve so much more when they inspire students to achieve great things in life.

The way these teachers put these inspirations into real actions and make their students take those extra few steps to reach out above the rest should become the norm. Most of use just need a nudge or two that encourage us that you can do better, that you can do what you dream of.

How Alet Conradie encourage her students to be exceptional keeps on being an inspiration for everyone. This should become a blue print for other teachers on how to motivate and develop these young minds that will shape our future before it is corrupted by negative thinking and this idiotic ideology of a collective mindset that just brings everyone down in the process.

Exceptional teachers also have exceptional challenges as they always challenge the status quo in their mission to create excellence.

I challenge everyone to start to write about those teachers that are really making a difference so that the world can see and learn how important our teachers are.

Finally, a technology with great customer satisfaction - Novell Vibe just rocks!

The last few months I have actively engaged in projects where the customers were seeking a collaborative platform that is easy to implement, easy to use and easy to support.  After much debate we finally recommended Novell Vibe OnPrem (or Novell Teaming as it used to be known as).

As with any new type of technology adoption within organisations where the staff is often not as computer literate as you want them to be, you expect to go through some growing and adoption pains.  Let alone end-user resistance to a new platform, new way of working, and far more important, if it is not from Microsoft, how can this be good?

How wrong I was.  Or did we just have the right approach to tackle these projects?  I was scheduled for a follow-up workshop with one of my customers this morning for about two hours.  The meeting only lasted about 5 minutes, and it was more the customer who in all excitement could not wait to show me what they have achieved. (The meeting ended before it was scheduled to start as I was early.)

The best part is how the customer managed to master the way of working within Novell Vibe in a very short time, and now cannot wait to start to do tackle new projects inside Novell Vibe.

It has been a long time since a relatively new technology on the block managed to get adoption this quickly.  The way you can utilise concepts from social networking and employ those principles to get people to work more effectively and communicate far more regularly, and not via e-mail, is one of the key reasons why Novell Vibe is a technology that will have a great future.

It also does not cost a fortune, and you do not need software developers to implement the system.  Your business users will drive this inside your organisation.

Why must the truth be manipulated by IT vendors, or rather, why are customers so gullible to believe these untruths?

I have been in this Information Technology Industry now since 1985 on a professional level.   That is when I wrote my first software programme that I got paid for.  I have learned over the years that when you investigate a technology, you investigate and evaluate all the facts before you decide how to plan the way forward.

If you cannot get all the facts, it means you have to go and look for them as it is completely stupid to make strategic decisions merely based upon assumptions or hearsay.  Unless you want to expose your organisation at huge risk, you have to make sure of the facts at hand, and your own research need to confirm this.  The industry analysts such as Gartner, IDC and others have often been more wrong than right.  When you start to anaylyse their predictions their reports are often vendor sponsored or very vague and generalised.  Most acedemics in this area will give these analyst firms a 1 out of 5 score for reliability of information, where 1 = unreliable.

One of our customers recently complianed heavily how a Microsoft Sales Account Manager tried to scare them into migrating to Microsoft because Novell will no longer be in South Africa within the next few months.  The customer was told directly that they will no longer be able to get any support from Novell and it is in their own interest to migrate as quickly as possible before Novell leaves the country.

At least here we have a customer that realised the absolute speculation at hand, and even if Novell does leave South Africa in a year's time (purely speculation), it will not matter as all support on Novell is provided by Novell Partners or by Novell Support Centres remotely.  This customer also knows that even Microsoft only have sales offices in many countries and that support is also provided remotely and through their partners.

Microsoft does in fact have great technologies that changed our world, and I myself make great use of many of their technologies.  It still does not give them the right to manipulate the truth to win business.  It is illegal and should be stopped in its tracks.  Microsoft does not need to go down to such lows, just to get the business.  If the technology is right for the customer, they will buy.  Do not win business on telling lies to customers.

I must also say that Microsoft is not the only villain.  Even giants like Oracle and EMC behave differently when doing business in Africa than when they do business in Europe for example.  Telling customers untruths about your competitor because you cannot win on a technical level is wrong but if you to this in Europe the authorities will be on to you very quickly.

It is the audacity of IT Vendors to manipulate speculation to create fear and uncertainty with customers is one of the most unethical business practices in this industry.  Even worse is when they start to create technical untruths about their competitor's products, especially when they know that a customer does not have the technical know-how or resources to validate their invalid claims.

It is also the responsibility of customers to validate the claims being made by the IT Vendors.  I have found myself often in a situation where I need to convince a customer that what the large vendor told them is a blatant lie, and then they will still believe the vendor that told the lie, and then the business goes to the lying vendor.

The IT industry is unfortunately not governed by the same principles of accuracy and transparency such as the field of engineering or the medical field where just one ommission or error in judgement can result in yourself or your entire organisation being disqualified from practicing in that industry.

The only way to solve this type if behaviour is the customer that need to become more critical of the facts that are sometimes paraded in front of them.  Once the IT vendors realise that they themselves can only use real and true facts, this IT industry will gain more respect and we will no longer need all this hype and nonsense that many in this industry feed upon.

Novell and their Patents - Just come clean

There has been a host of blogs and tweets about the latest SEC filing by Novell on 14 January 2011 and what it actually means to business.

One aspect that was quite obvious was the selective quoting by hundreds of journalists and bloggers to make sure that the message is twisted to their perception or agenda.

Neither here nor there; Novell should have handled this with so much more transparency.  As an advocate of OpenSource and the principles of OpenSource, Novell has severely neglected in the first place their own staff members, their direct customers, and then subsequently the communities that have been supporting many of the projects that Novell supported.

There has been almost no clarity, let alone transparenacy, on how any of these projects will be affected.

Merely quoting that these are the rules of the game is just NOT ENOUGH.  It is only an excuse not to explain the real truth and hiding everything else in secrecy.

Novell has basically opened the flood gates to rumour mongers, and allowed a stream of ridiculous perceptions to take place with regards to Novell Technology.

The rumour mongers or doom sayers will refer to Novell's technology as being dated, old technology, where in fact most of the latest versions are more advanced than any current vendor offering.

It does not help to say internally that these facts are not true - you have to be exceptionally vocal to displace these pathetic rumours that ill informed executives often rely upon.

The furore around the patents is again an issue completely clouded with non-facts.  99% of bloggers and journalists failed to highlight the fact that these patents relate to non-shipping products of Novell.

The perception was created that Novell sold off the patents of all there Identity Managent, Collaboration and Enterprise Management solutions.  This is what happens when you selectively quote from sources without verifying the context if the published documentation.

It is the same as selectively quoting from the Bible or the Qur'an.  You can twist the story just to achieve your own personal objectives.

Unfortunately it is seldom in this industry that IT excutives actually make decision based upon fact, and it is often more based upon the supposedly popular approach as being perceived by management.

Both the OSI and FSF have a very strong argument.  They need transparency on how this deal will affect them.  The secrecy around this deal is completely uncalled for, to such an extend that not even Novell Staff on senior level knows what is happenning.

As with recent Government leaks on Wikileaks, it should be time that Corporate Secrecy enjoys the same scrutiny as we are moving to a world without secrets.

Let us hope that Novell will see the need for transparency very soon, as the traditional frameworks protecting this type of secrecy is outdated and must be challenged.

INVICTUS (Unconquered)

"I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."

December 8, 2009 - How do you describe this? Red Carpet treatment, although yellow because MTN is the primary sponsor, but it was the whose who of the South African Celebrity scene in one place.  That was the glitter of the evening at Emperor's Palace.  The South African Premier of INVICTUS, the movie about South Africa's astonishing win of the Rugby World Cup in 1995.

This was a real premier screening of a movie, the stuff you only see on TV or in the movies.  The security bouncers were there, the TV crews, the press photographers, and we had to walk the carpet while the general public was admiring one with jealousy.

It was great to see people you have met more than 20 years ago, seeing PJ Powers in her ever powerful persona energising the crowds.  Most of the team that actually played in the 1995 World Cup was there.  Actors and presenters of many South African films and television series mingled as if they were part of the awe to experience one great movie, INVICTUS.

Taking a seat, just behind Derek Watts of Carte Blanche, was an inspiration on its own.  As we await the start of the movie, entered Morgan Freeman, and gave que to start the movie in a mere 10 words.  Still awesome, seeing such a great figure in the industry in person.

Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Nelson Mandela is exemplary.  He has managed to capture the greatness of the best leader this Southern African region has ever seen, in fact the world.

The essence of the relationship between Nelson Madela and Francois Pienaar, captain of the South African side, is portrayed with powerful and emotional snippets.

Clint Eastwood has showed us how much we as South Africans have achieved in this world cup.  He has managed to capture the euphoria South Africa experienced after the 1995 world cup.  It is such a pity that we have lost that exceptional intellectual quality of leadership that made this country so great after 1994.

This movie should serve as a wake up call to all South Africans.  We can once again become the great unified nation that we were in 1995 despite all our troubles.  We need to make sure that the 2010 Soccer World Cup becomes so much more important to unify South Africa.  At the moment we lack that vision completely and we have no leadership that is inspiring all South Africans to unify behind our National Team, even if they do not have a good track record.

We need to become one nation again.