A time of “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Men”

For most of us, this year has been our first experience of a global catastrophe, a virulent pandemic that has left us isolated, not even able to get a reassuring hug from our closest friends or family.

With the world now so integrated, information spreads even faster than disease, creating a more intense barrage of terrifying images and stories than previous generations would have been exposed to, although in reality, the wars and pandemics they faced were significantly worse in scope and severity. It’s important to maintain perspective, to remember that we have survived worse, and we will survive this.

Where those past generations found solace in places of worship, we instead gaze for long hours at our own “stained glass windows”, the one on our computer screens filled with the faces of our business colleagues, friends and family; all of us doing our best to engage with each other in this estranged world of “lock down” and virtual face-to-face meetings.

Socialising online is no substitute for socialising in person.  Recently, I watched an SA music production from 2018, of artists coming together to sing for Johnny Clegg. It was a stark reminder of the human interactions we have had to give up to protect ourselves through the pandemic.  We are coping, but it is not easy, and it’s not a natural way of interacting.

So, until we can be together again, hopefully early in 2021, the Chamber will continue to engage with members and friends across virtual mediums.  Thanks to everyone for their support throughout the many different engagements we have shared together this year. 

We have many highlights from the year to look back on, notably, the address from the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Lesetja Kganyago, who will be joining us again in March 2021; the Solidarity Walk, where South Africans from all around the globe collectively walked the distance from Cape Town to Beitbridge and back again; and combining our resources with the City of London with the Lord Mayor and the Recorder of London, the screening the “Life Is Wonderful” documentary created by Sir Nick Stadlen covering the human and legal story of the Rivonia Trial. 

We’ve had wine tastings, social evenings, business briefings and wellness events, interspersed with the more serious issues of Brexit, trade and investment, and the economic impacts of COVID.

The first quarter of 2021 will be bursting with a mix of events, as detailed in our newsletter and on our website, through which we hope to continue to engage with you all regularly.

As Chairman of the SA Chamber, I wish you all a wonderful, safe and happy festive season. 

Many of us have taken out our Christmas decorations earlier than usual, putting up our trees to generate colour and warmth to share with family, near or far, and give us a sound footing from which to herald in the New Year of 2021.

It will be a challenging year as we deal with the fallout of 2020.  As South Africans we are ready for the challenge, to again find solutions and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

I wish all Members, Executive Committee, Directors, Advisory Board, and friends of the SA Chamber, the opportunity to recharge batteries, to look after our own wellbeing and that of those close to us. We will be ready to meet 2021 with energy and positivity!

Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year to each and every one of you.

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