Friday, July 14, 2006
Whenever I feel disoriented, a game of chess brings me back to my usual senses. As I pondered over my next move after a two game thrashing by my teenage nephew, I remembered the therapeutic session we had with Tracy Rowe of Investec before she gave us very useful tips on professionalism. This was a day after an enlightening and brilliant talk from robust Kuseni Dlamini. Telling one’s story, what they call narrative therapy, is crucial in expunging pent up emotions. Colleagues went on about imprisonment, working as barmen, sad childhoods, exciting moments in life as well as embarrassing moments, shattered dreams and faded hopes(Joseph, I still hope that one day, I will be as prolific a striker as Samuel Eto’o). However, an aura of optimism amidst a dark past was enveloping throughout. What struck me most was Pascalia’s story, which was my story, this time not in Zimbabwe but in Kenya. Interestingly though, these two countries share a common colonial legacy… settler colonies, armed resistance and suffered the direct rule under Her Majesty. It is no coincidence that both countries have produced leaders who leave a lot to be desired; Uncle Bob (Robert Mugabe) and Uncle Dan (Daniel arap Moi). The two leaders’ difference is only in academic qualifications with one being a man of letters while the other should have stuck to his initial calling…. goat herding (guys I have nothing against goats; the meat is quite tasty!!). Sticking to the narrative therapy, I remember my other job (colleagues, forget about the barman story for now) as an intern when I was in my 2nd year at varsity at the premier human rights organization in Kenya. Brilliant boy, from the university, my first task was to type a letter. Had I seen computers…yes. Did I know how to use them…? Never. It took me a whole day to type a one page letter on MS Word (holy heavens, and here I am blogging!! Or is it bragging?!). Sounds more like Pascalia’s story, not so? Over the three months, I was able to overcome challenges and when our university acquired Internet facilities, I was in the forefront of utilizing to the maximum the facility. Three years down the line, I was teaching Information Technology for the Humanities to undergraduate students at Wits University (yes, Wits, Johannesburg). Cutting a long story short, I think the computer challenges we faced just show how education systems can be inadequate, but again, computer facilities only held sway in Africa less than a decade ago (we were born at the wrong time?!). It is encouraging that today’s kids are computer whiz- kids (I still learn a few computer tricks from my 14yr old nephew in Kenya). Given the life stories of the Zimbabwean and the Kenyan, (I’m sure there are worse stories we can get from both countries), we have endeavoured to overcome all these challenges, ranging from bad governance, to economic mismanagement, low levels of technological developments, etc. Surely, there is hope for Africa. What is expected of us, as Kuseni Dlamini aptly puts it, is to transform from being consumers of knowledge to producers of knowledge. Experiencing life outside our depressing domains is a step towards embracing globalisation, a modern day reality; realizing the malfunctional systems which are our origins, embracing the fastidious life of more industrialized nations and producing knowledge which will uplift the horrible living conditions of our people is the important cycle of globalisation; local to regional to global to local…ad infinitum. We should think and act local, regional and global simultaneously. … and I made my next move, but was checkmated by the accomplished chess player, my young nephew (whom I had taught the game less than one year ago). I was to avenge for the defeat in a three game-win in a row the next day against some anonymous chess player (we are living in a global village, aren’t we?) on http://www.chessanytime.com/. The player might have been Garry Kasparov…who knows!!!