Back to South Africa

by on November 25, 2008 at 11:40 am

I’m off to Africa. Whenever I leave the states on an extended trip, I always think about earlier trips in my life when a departure could have meant a permanent one. I followed the gypsydom of my youth more than most because I figured those “callings” were designed for youth.

They certainly weren’t designed for my elders so I thought, since it seemed like so many walls, excuses, what ifs and responsibilities were attached to all the adults around me, wearing them down like 60 foot ship anchors. If my future was one of adults complaining they never lived out their dreams, using every reason why it didn’t happen ‘for them,’ I figured I may as well ‘create’ a dream or two before the world conspired to take them away from me, which is how it seemed most adults felt at the time.

So leaving always brings about a nervous but intense and exciting energy. With this energy in place, you are much more open to raw opportunities rather than ‘scheduled ones.’ When you leave on a business trip for say, India, China or Germany, you have an idea of who you’re going to meet with, the deals you’d like to cut and your return date.

Creative gurus, change agents and branding consultants can ignite new ideas and passions in people by getting them in a room with a whiteboard or you can simply tell them to go walkabout to a place that has always inspired them or they’ve had dreams of since childhood. Give them an outline so they have some kind of focus and send them off.

Be sure that something will unlock in their unconscious mind, something that will be life-changing for them and more likely than not, positive for the company as well. It’s not a vacation, it’s a walkabout and be sure to emphasize the difference. The latter will clear old energy and bring on the new, a bit like hiring a fresh new face and voice but with years of experience under their belt.

I’m a huge fan of walkabouts and while some do this in some shape or form in the way of a sabbatical, it’s not a standard we’ve come to adopt in this country. Here we live to work rather than work to live. This cultural difference is fundamental and defines who we become, not just as individuals but as a nation.

My journey back to South Africa for the first time since white rule is a journey of re-discovery, it’s a journey of expression through the written word as well as photographic and videographic art, and it’s a journey into the past lives of people who both touched and shaped my world perspective now more than twenty years ago. While I spent most of my time in English schools in Durban and Johannesburg suburbs, below is a shot taken at an Afrikaans school I attended for awhile.


Back then, life’s encounters were largely with teachers, parents, farmers and friends. On this trip, I’ll be talking to technologists, green enthusiasts and creators, energy experts and animal experts, farmers, artists, designers, journalists, bloggers, photographers, CEOs, doctors and shop owners. More from the road. Be sure to follow along on this marvelous journey, not just my own, but the journey of 12 other bloggers who I’ll join for a fifth of this adventure.