Friday, February 13, 2004

There’s no place I’d rather be 

The thing for me about consulting here is the potential that is inherent in this country. During the dark years of apartheid, millions of people of the wrong colour were denied opportunity. Whole generations missed out, and there is now a vast potential waiting to be tapped. As a business consultant trying to unlock value in different businesses and markets, I find this tremendously exciting.

As an illustration of what I am talking about, take the story of Bongani Mvumvu. Bongani left home and was found living rough on a pig farm by the family who owned the place. They subsequently adopted him, and helped him to get an education. He ended up playing rugby for Western Province schools. The mother of the family was also a riding instructor, so Bongani was put on a horse to see how he got on. Now I come from what, certainly by South African standards, is a privileged background, so the odds of me finding out if I have a knack for riding are pretty good. I don’t. Bongani, on the other hand, could easily have lived his whole life without even seeing a horse. To cut a long story short, it transpires that Bongani was born to ride, and in August 2003, aged 14, he won the World Junior Dressage Championships in Germany.

What boggles my mind is the sheer numbers that were denied an opportunity under apartheid to become doctors, sportsmen, writers or businessmen. For me, being given the chance to work with this new generation, and with some of the old, is incredible. South Africa is a once in a lifetime place to be: ten years of democracy and counting. This is history in the making, and I can’t think of anywhere else that can offer what this country can. And I haven’t even mentioned the weather.

Listening to: Robert Plant: Route 66 to somewhere or other, and not really getting into it.

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