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SA Chamber Connect Event – 21st February 2018 – What were Madiba and Arch really like?

Insights were shared by Chris Chivers, Tom Shore and Clive Conway and his Tutu Foundation team

President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – Two Nobel Peace Prize winners and global Elders – men who have had a long lasting positive influence on a racially divided country, bringing people together, teaching respect and trust and believing in equality for all.

The key points from tonight’s talks that stayed with me were firstly, how far our Rainbow Nation has travelled since the years of apartheid.  A colourful creative, lively, warm nation of can do people who have the tenacity to believe things will come right.

I could not help thinking how “normal” these two men were when you hear of the daily activities of their lives but then what stands out is their sincere and unwavering belief in people.  They could mix with anyone from child to international statesmen and they believed in equality of women and the rights of children.

Some of the personal insights gave colour to the men – a private tour of Westminster Abbey and Mandela stating that history of our country are the lessons therefore giving clarity on not removing reference to the past, even that we are not proud of, as such acts do not ensure the learnings our children should understand.

At that moment in the Abbey, Nelson said  – “We cannot undo the past, we can only transform it”.

Laughter is an uplifter, Tutu is the embodiment of laughter, a man who through his amazing intellect, can use words and laughter to empower the difficult conversations, allow us to look in the mirror and see the truth and from there we can make improvements.

We understand the value of good leadership as demonstrated by Mandela.  He hand picked Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed him – Cyril lost then to Mbeki who was followed by Zuma, who has demonstrated the outcomes of lack of leadership.

Cyril now has his turn and is espousing the values and ethics of Mandela.  With intellect and capability equally comes humility – another lesson.

Good leaders have vision, are forward thinking and put the country before themselves which contributes directly to a sustainable country (equally an organisation) beyond a single leader.

We learnt that Peace comes out of dealing with Conflict – we should address issues and navigate a journey that all parties can embody.  A lesson for us as individuals and families but equally to politics, business and today’s boardrooms.

South Africa embodies the spirit of Ubuntu and the people demonstrate the “gees” (the spirit) of the South African can-do culture and positive energy.

To me the most important lesson I gained was the value of reviewing the situation from the shoes of the other party before reacting.  Instead we can respond with greater humanity for a better outcome for all.