10 steps to creating a free and non-racial democracy.

As we head into 2013, and we are approached for team conflict resolution interventions in corporate, government and other business arenas, I am astounded at the levels of prejudice, cross cultural incompetence and general inability to build relationships in diverse teams.

Much of the prejudice is so archaic it is almost ancestral in origin, in fact some of it is from colonial days. Some of it comes from the sad era of Apartheid. And sadly much of it is being created on a daily basis in homes and the workplace.

Our people are divided. Our politicians and government perpetuate the divisions daily – by political affiliation, race, colour, language, clan – even though they profess to be developing a non racial democracy. New forms of formalised Apartheid and political protectionism creep in every year.

And this is reflected in the attitudes and actions of our people. Racial superiority and inferiority according to what race you were born into and where you stay, is rampant.

Ours is one of the few countries in the world where the race question is foremost in the minds of people. Be they mothers and fathers, business owners, civil servants, procurement specialists, or workplace employment teams, “What colour is he – or she?” Or more blatantly as if they are talking about another creature, other than a human being – “What is he?”

This simply must stop.

If we are to give our children, and ourselves, a fair chance at living in, and building our beautiful country we need to change. To be different and to become more human.

Our team conflict resolution programmes do this (brian@africa-dreams.com) – but only for the people that we interact with – and their families. The Ubuntu Girl – Soja Kruse does this – but again the extent of her reach is limited. (ubuntuabundance@gmail.com)

So how do we, as a nation of human beings begin to bring about the long term change that is so deeply needed?

10 steps

  1. Accept that there is a problem in the way that we think, talk and act towards people of other religions and cultures.
  2. Resolve to make changes in your own behaviour, and do not accept negative behaviour from people within your circle. (You may have to find some new friends!) Set yourself some change goals.
  3. Accept that in doing so, you will leave a wonderful legacy for future generations.
  4. Stop using negative, prejudiced words and names.
  5. Stop judging – get to know more about cultures, religions, traditions and belief systems. Have fun whilst learning. Invite people home and visit their homes, celebrations, funerals and traditional events.
  6. Learn new languages, from other people. Start with greetings, thanks, goodbyes and body language. (Misunderstood body language is often an immediate block to respect and business relationships.)
  7. Learn how to cater for people from different backgrounds. Do not judge from your own experience. There may be challenges and fantastic opportunities arising from differences in culture, religion, health and personal preference.)
  8. Learn what respect means to others – and show them respect in the ways that they wish to be respected.
  9. Actively make decisions without bias. This may mean that you have to think very deeply before you decide important things. (We are often polluted by our own belief systems and upbringing. Clear the smog, simplify your required outcomes and make informed and responsible decisions.)
  10. Celebrate each noticeable change.

It is time that we began to celebrate the wonders of our similarities and our differences. Not only in South Africa, but in Africa and the World. We are in our 19th year as a free democracy, it is time now to grow up and live to our full potential!

Racist name calling in South Africa.

Name calling never helps.
In South Africa it is deemed hate speech to use the “k” word, particularly if the person saying it is not black. However, as previously stated I have heard on very rare occasions black people using it on each other. The word (kaffir), whatever its origins, is simply hurtful and hateful and not acceptable.
However many black people find it acceptable to call a white person Umlungu (Zulu), Ngamla (Sotho); and Afrikaaner is called “iBhunu” (Boer or farmer); a Muslim would be called a “iSulumani”; and person of Indian descent a “iKhula”. The latter comes from the term Coolie. Any of these names group people in a manner which makes it easier to “define”, or “hate” them. This is simply prejudice at work.
Our politicians – some of whom fought the “struggle” for peace against the Apartheid regime sing old struggle songs – such as “Kill the farmer.” This targets the white group in South Africa, in particular people of Afrikaans descent.
The challenge here is that everything else except the use of the “K” word are not seen as hate speech – by the perpetrators. They believe that they have the right to say and sing divisive and hateful things. Until we can build a nation where we can clearly state One South Africa, One Nation and “At the level of respect, all people are equal” we will still live in a land of “them and us.”
To add a few other dimensions even within, so-called similar races, there exist names for each other. English speaking South Africans are some-times called “Rooineks and Soutpiele” the first meaning rednecks – from the sunburnt appearance of the British soldiers fighting in the Anglo-Boer war. The second is a bit rough and I will not translate it here. Some English speakers call Afrikaners “Dutchmen.” None of which are acceptable.
Amongst Indian-speaking South Africans the word “Coolie” and it’s African language equivalents are not acceptable. Many of this group will call themselves “Charous” – very few however allow others to do so. There are further divisions amongst those who originate from North and South India, with the Hindi-speaking northerners being known as Roti-ous and the Tamil speaking as Porridge-ous. This is derived from the flat bread cooking of the Hindi speakers and the porridge used in prayer ceremonies by the Tamil speaking people. This has become a more fun way to describe each other.
The descriptions of other groups by South Africans of Indian descent – such as vet-ous (White people), Slam-ous (Muslim people) and Bruin-ous are some of the many colourful ways to single out members of other race and religious groups. (The word “ous” is Afrikaans slang for people.)
And then in Africa, tribalism enters into the equation. This is becoming more and more prevalent. We are occasionally called in to resolve team conflict where there are no white people. One of the main challenges listed is racism. Because the cultural beliefs and traditions are so different one group may describe the other as, “animals.”
We do not need to separate by group, this prevents us from knowing people as humans. The time has long come that we should respect each other and venture into other diverse circles to find out what makes us tick. Are we so different? Or are we a bunch of human beings from wonderfully different diversities that have been tainted by our histories. Sadly we are being poisoned by the new wave of political utterings, too.
Let us not make the mistakes of the past. Let us build the future together – based in respect.
Brian V Moore 14 June 2012

Our Own New York Taxi Driver!

All people are looking for, is a little respect and recognition; 4 steps to getting more from life.

Our Los Angeles shuttle driver looked bemused, after we had greeted and thanked our hotel porter, in Spanish.
“I thought you guys were from South Africa. Where did you learn Mexican?” He asked.
“Right here, in LA.” I answered.
“How long have you been here”, he asked.
“Two days”, I answered.
“Well, that is incredible! I’ve been here 45 years, and you know more than I do.” He shook his head in amazement, as we set off towards Hollywood Boulevard.

As we traveled down the road, we spoke of our journey through the USA, and how a little respect had built some great friendships. When we arrived in New York, we were guided to Pennsylvania station by a lady – suitcases loaded with South African wine. She was incredibly gracious and kind.

At Penn. station we boarded our first unmarked taxi, to our first rather scary Manhattan hotel. We asked the taxi driver where he was from and what his name was. “Hamid” – he responded, “and I am from Morocco. Where you from?”

“As salaamu alaikum Hamid.”
“Wailakum as salaamu.” he responded.

We greeted and found out how each other were, as we travelled through the busy New York traffic. We found out how long he had been in New York, where his family was and lots of other really human info. We told him that we ran team-building in South Africa. As we chatted, we asked if we could get his phone number, so that we could call him when we needed him. At the end of our journey, he gave us his number and we paid him for the trip.

The next morning, Arthie phoned him. “Ah, the South Africans, he said. And he was perfectly on time, outside our hotel. Off we went to Macy’s. Upon our arrival, we asked what the fee was.
“Twenty dullah,” he said, “You are on vacation.”

Hamid became our friend, our guide and on every occasion – bar the trip to the airport – charged us $20. He would be there at night and in the morning. He was our saviour. We respected him and he respected us. We learnt so much about this very private man from our conversations, and he about us. How many other people have had their own private New York Taxi driver?

Pat, our Irish American, taxi driver nodded and shook his head. He had never heard of that before – “New York taxi drivers are renowned for their focus on money, not on people. That is amazing!”
“And there is more ,” I told Pat. “When we were in Las Vegas, we had a taxi driver as our witness at our wedding!” We looked at each other and laughed, at the wonderful memory.

“No way!” said Pat, “tell me about it,” laughed the big, jovial 3rd generation American. (His grandfather had emigrated to the USA from Ireland, as a young man.)

Arthie took up the story, “As we left Flamingo Casino, we decided to find a chapel and get married again. (This is our 6th wedding to each other.)”
“Never divorced?”
“No, we just love to celebrate our love for each other through weddings and re-affirming our vows.” She continued, “As we stepped out of the hotel, the Concierge stepped up, and asked if we needed a taxi, and where we were going to. He was quite shocked when we told him that we needed to find a chapel, to get married. He asked the taxi driver, if he could do it. The taxi driver nodded, and we climbed in.”

Pat laughed, “And then you asked all about him, didn’t you?

Arthie laughed, “How’d ya know? How’d ya know?” He laughed and settled back to listen to her.

“So, Jahed – who was from Iraq – called his controller on the radio. “You know that chapel downtown, you told me about? I need the address.” After a little time and some strong words, with the controller, Jahed said. “I got it.”

A short while later, we arrived at the Stained Glass Wedding Chapel. Jahed switched off the taxi meter, for the duration of the wedding. Within about 15minutes – we were set and ready for our wedding – dressed in our denims and sneakers. The organisers tried to hire a wedding dress and tuxedo – for about $200 dollars each – but we wanted a quick wedding, without finery!

A short while later a little old lady, in a wig arrived. She was the minister. 5 minutes later, and with some very beautiful words, that we had repeated to each other – we were wed! And Jahed was our witness.”

Pat laughed, his deep Irish laugh and shook his head!

I carried on, “And we got his phone number too. But never needed to use his services again. We had tried another taxi driver – from Ethiopia, but he was really rude. He got the standard tip, and complained bitterly about it. A little respect goes a long way! And disrespect takes you nowhere.”

Pat looked at us in the mirror, and said, “You guys are a true example to us all. You will never want for anything.” We thanked him.

As we drove Pat spoke of his life, the recent death of his father – and how he was handling that. As we drew near Hollywood, he asked us where we wanted to be dropped off. We told him that we had just attended an amazing conference, on building our team-building company, and internet businesses.

“Wherever the red tourist buses are based”, said Arthie. “Oh look, there is one now.”

Our new friend, swung into action and chased the bus. When it came to a halt, he bounded out and asked the driver how we could get on! He was helping his new friends out and was going to do everything that it took to get us on that bus.

And indeed, that is what happened. We wished Pat well, “The top of the morning to you, Pat!” And he hung his head a little, and said, “You speak more Irish than I do.”

Arthie and I have built friendships and relationships, around the World, simply by respecting other people.

4 simple tips to get more from your life.

1) Care More – Life is not only about you. Start to greet people, and treat people, in the way that they want to be greeted and treated. Learn their languages – do not demand to hear yours. Ask about them, talk far less of your self.

2) Give More – Don’t be afraid to help others, be it by listening, caring and even sharing. Don’t always go with the “standard tip.” Look for ways that you can give, rather than seek ways to get. And you shall receive!

3) Love More – You are perfect as you are, however Life rewards action and not thought. When you really begin to like and accept who you are, in every way, then you are able to be more loving. When you love more – you are loved more.

4) Thank More – Live in a permanent state of gratitude. Be thankful for each breath that you take. Be grateful for your family and your friends – AND tell them. Thank people for every thing that they do. Humbly thank people for their compliments. Develop an “attitude of gratitude”, and the world will reward your thankfulness.

Arthie Moore and Brian V Moore
Teambuilding -in South Africa and Diversity Training in South Africa
“At the level of respect, all people are equal.”
Durban, South Africa. 30th April 2008

Request a Team Building, Diversity Training
or Team Conflict Resolution proposal –
on http://www.celebrating-humanity-projects.com
or email: brian@africa-dreams.com
or call +27 79 643 4457

A bean is revealed when you open its shell…

A bean is revealed when you open its shell. – Zulu proverb.
(First written in 2004 and very relevant now to the xenophobic incidents in Alexander and Diepsloot – Johannesburg, South Africa.)
We live in such a wonderful country. We have had an incredible past and that strange history has been used by many of us as a catalyst for personal change and growth. And sadly others still hark after the past, or operate as if nothing has changed!
And change it has! South Africa has gone from skunk nation status to a place of beauty and wonder. A place where all people can live their lives with self-respect and respect for others.
I can remember when it was difficult to move around the world with a South African passport. When people in love could not be married – by virtue of their colour or race. Where we were separated into groups, denied or benefited by virtue of our birth. When cars were driven across the beautiful highways of our nation at 70kms an hour because of fuel sanctions. (A trip from Johannesburg to the coast took up to 12 hours in holiday season!)
It was a time when we were so divided that we did not know how others lived. And we did not know or understand the realities of life for people who were not white.
I am delighted that Apartheid has all passed behind us. I am excited to be a part of this new country where we are an example to the world. I am happy to be a pioneer laying the groundwork, through affirmative action and employment equity, for the children of the new generations. Sometimes it is hard to be white and male in South Africa. But nowhere as hard as it was to be “non-white in Apartheid South Africa! Yes, we are the new “voortrekkers”, we are the “star fleet” boldly opening up new frontiers and horizons. And we are opening up our country to all of it’s peoples. What a legacy to build for future generations!
Arthie and I are delightfully and ecstatically married. In the old South Africa this would have been impossible! We would have been hunted down & exposed. Here is a piece from http://www.fact-index.com/i/im/immorality_act.html that shows just how far we have come.
“The Immorality Act was one of the most controversial legislative acts of South African Apartheid. It attempted to forbid intermixing of couples of different race both in the area of marriage as well as casual sex.
Mixed marriages and the immorality act became the first major pieces of apartheid legislation. In 1949 mixed marriages were banned in South Africa. In 1950 the act was followed up with a ban on sexual relations between blacks and whites.

One of the first people convicted of the immorality act was a Cape Dutch Reformed minister; he was caught having sex with a domestic worker in his garage. He was given a suspended sentence and the parishioners bulldozed the garage to the ground.

On the grounds of the Immorality Act, the police tracked down mixed couples suspected of being in relationships. Homes were invaded and doors were smashed down in the process. Mixed couples caught in bed were arrested. Underwear was used as forensic evidence in court. Most couples found guilty were sent to jail. Blacks were often given harsher sentences than whites.
In 1985 the Immorality Act and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act were both repealed.”

The full extent of forgiveness in our country from 1990 until now will never be quantified. It has been hugely miraculous that we are where we are now.
Imagine my surprise when attending a recent birthday party for a 3 year old, when the other young parents banded together. And allowed a few of their group to make loud comments on Arthie and my relationship. “These mixed marriages are not on,” said one. After a few more similar comments another stated. “At least the child came out o.k.” Referring to our son Lliam who has a light Italian complexion.
Arthie has always maintained that we are indeed a mixed couple. “One boy and one girl. That is a good mix!”, she says. And of course any couple comes from mixed backgrounds. They were raised differently by their respective parents, with different morals, in different homes and in different circumstances. And some times even when your complexion is similar it is hard to mix. Have you ever heard the one about “My mother-in-law…?”
Back to the kiddies party. We did not feel aggrieved. And we felt no hurt from the “injustice” of their words, we only felt the pain in their souls. These poor & misguided people were still living in a mind-view set by a law repealed nearly 20 years ago. Most of them were only 5 or 6 years old at that time! I wondered what their parents taught them & how they programme their own children.
Yes, we wish that one day they will find love and peace. And that they too can be human beings first and not live in judgement of the first thing that their eyes see.
Which leads me to a Zulu proverb. “Uhlubu’ dlube ‘khasini” Literally – “A bean is revealed when you open the shell.” It is used when one is surprised by the wisdom, skills or talents of another, or when a person does something amazing that you do not expect. This is similar to the English proverb, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Somehow we were being judged by our ‘colours” and a muddled perception of a “perfect relationship”. Just as others are daily judged, by people from all backgrounds, by their religion, race, language, favourite sport or soccer side, hair colour, heritage and education. And anything else that makes them different to the judges.
Arthie and I have the most beautiful relationship. With our marvellous uniquenesses we add to each other. We grow each other and complement each other. We are soul-mates. Ours is a match made in Heaven! Our multi-lingual 3 year old son Lliam is a stunning, loving, warm and intelligent child.
So before you judge us – take time to get past the shell. We may be three very beautiful beans! When our true selves are revealed you may find something special within. The multi-diverse people of South Africa are all incredibly unique beans in diverse shells. They are the reasons that we have such a marvelous country. They are what makes this such an exciting place to live in!
My greatest understanding is that people, who are different to you and I, add to us. They bring wonderful knowledge, wisdom, traditions and cultures. They bring new ideas and new views. And they only add to us when we open the shell, question, experience and delight in their uniqueness.
Let us step away from our simplistic programmed assessments and move into today. Right here, right now, with the human beans (beings) who make you and I human. As Arthie and I have discovered, there is so much freedom in being human first and anything else much later.
(May 2008 update – This story pales with the shocking and horrific incidents of xenophobia in Alexander and Diepsloot townships. And to a less visual extent in Government and the workplace. We all have a right to a life, a right to opportunity. Xenophobia is absolutely unacceptable and we ALL have to stand up to it, and to those who perpetrate and perpetuate violence and prejudice – in the name of their “people.”

There is only one race and that is the human race!)

Brian V Moore©
Mthimkhulu International 24 May 2004