The ying-yang of leadership

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There are stories in which I wish I can share with you, but I cannot I can not. They are too personal and too special, they only belong in deep pockets of my heart and that`s where they are going to stay.

In my few months being at medical school I have met a wide spectrum of wonderful people, people who have and still contribute so much to the development of Africa.

People who have challenged me to think much deeper and much more creative. These people have challenged me in all manners and avenues of life. No doubt I have been pushed to my limits, but most beautifully I watched the inner me unleashing the beast within me. I am grateful to all the experience and more grateful for more that`s to come.

I discovered that most of the problems I have been questioning myself about are nothing new. They have existed before I was even aware of them. They did not exist when I became aware about them, chances are they will continue to exists even after I have taken my shot at solving them.

I love this atmosphere, its an atmosphere for learning. I am  surrounded by a web of intelligent and charismatic people, who can sell you sand in the desert. BUT I am not very much interested in their speeches and and words more than deeds. that no longer interests me. Because I have many charismatic leaders who have been corrupted and blinded by power and greed.

I am now interested in small things that people do, things that people think don`t matter:

I look at how they talk to their subordinates,
how they talk to cleaners in corridors,
how they answer silly questions,
and even how they eat in table,
whether is it continental or American style of dinning.

I am now concerned about what people read, whether they are wearing a V-necked jersey or a rounded color jersey. They say you can tell a lot about a man from the shoes his wearing, I think a jersey will tell you far more.

I am not fascinated by the gross skills of leadership…the pompous words and persuasive speech, I am over that….what is more important to me now is the ‘soft-skills of leadership’ courtesy, manners, etiquettes, netiquettes, respector of people not persons. Being able to challenge authority and still being respectful. Being meek but not weak.

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PhD_Permanent head damage

Once they get the idea of what a door knob does, their mind is forever expanded.

Once they get the idea of what a door knob does, their mind is forever expanded.

 

A mind once stretched by great adventures and ideas can never shrink back to its usual small mindedness, it is what I call permanent head damaged_PhD. I am a part of all that I have met, yet my heart yearns to meet more adventures.

Experiences shape and rearrange our thought process. A mind that was once dull and timid sprouts out colourful ideas. Our thought process becomes crystal clear once we have new idea and new experiences. Our horizons of ‘possible’ are being pushed further away and there are now new spaces in which we can play and grapple with solution to our problems.

As we hear new ideas, not only do we have new frontiers to explore, our minds are often drawn them. To explore these new frontiers is imperative. We may not always find these frontiers useful, but we still need to at least notice that they are ‘new spaces’.

Even those ideas we dislike or with which we disagree leave our mind stretched. In our attempts to refute or disprove the new idea lets understand the context they are birthed by. Our minds are never going to return to the size they were before.

I will never be that oblivious child who believed fate was conspiring against him. I am a new child in the boardroom now, and I am hungry for success. I am made of rare material, the kind of material that makes kings and captains of their ship. My name is Cecil, you do not know me yet, but soon you will.

A friend was flabbergasted to see the material I read, they are about everything else but  the course I registered for at university. “You are an exception to everything I know about people” she said. She was right. I am an exception to all the stereotypes you know because that is the way that I want it to be.

Like a baby’s first steps and first run, like an older child’s first ride on a bicycle without training wheels, or like a teenager’s first solo drive in a car, once we have experienced the expanding of our limits, life is different, and will never be the same.

My portion shall not be amongst those who neither lived nor died  because they were afraid to take chances. I will cross seas and climb mountains, all in search of a beautiful story. I will not die an unlived life.

Each new day brings new possibilities. What will you learn today that might open a new door? What will bring you the insight necessary to take the next step forward? The world is big and getting even bigger. It awaits to be explored and stripped naked by you. Expand your mind, broaden your horizons. Seek to understand the intrinsic details that others ignore.

The puppet show_we are all under the control of the strings.

puppets

After I finished with my last clinical exams as an undergraduate student, I managed  to convince myself to go out to visit the Bellville Library Arts Gallery . They had puppet show! going on, yes I know this sounds strange for fully grown “boy” my psychology student friend might even say I am re-living a life I never lived as a child.
The history behind puppetry is as interesting as puppet-show themselves. The Indians used puppets to tell great tales about their gods to their children. The Italians made famous Pinocchio, a puppet known for its growing nose when ever it (he) lied. For centuries marionette puppets were used as mediums in order to deliver bad news to the king, the idea was to tell bad news in a “good way.”
The puppet show I went to though had nothing to do with kings and bad news or things  that could make your nose longer.
The artist used human models to resemble marionette puppets, their body was controlled by strings that were manipulated from above by an unseen “Master puppet.”
This allows them a freedom of movement that is unmatched by other forms of puppetry,  this type of movements required a great deal of skill from the person who is pulling the strings.
We have take a look at the role that puppetry has played in our history, for entertainment purposes but now let look at the deadly serious ones!
This whole show made me reflect on the things that control my every act whether consciously  or subconsciously.The show made me re-look at the things that allow and restrict my movement thereby my freedom to just be.
Our bodies throughout our lives are constantly being controlled by a puppet master, whether it is religion, government, the opposite sex, money and or fear. The bottom line is there is always something or someone pulling the strings of our lives. We can never be completely autonomous.
The strings of the puppet are figurative, as they represent everyday struggles like disease, morels, values or even a man controlling a woman or a woman controlling a man; it’s everything that controls our actions as a human beings.
I think the concept of the puppet show was to show the representation and similarity of humans in relation to puppets; after all they are models of our very image.
 

neither neat nor perfect

The_Anatomy_Lesson

I just found this very interesting picture online, and the story behind it is even more interesting.The  Dutch Journal of Medicine (NTvG) published an article that was describing  over 12 anatomical inaccuracies in this painting . After hours of scrutiny and zooming in the picture, I managed to find few of my own. One of those being the dissected “right” hand which is actually anatomically the left hand.

L08-06-Per-Eng-29573-03

This was painted by a Dutch painter named Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. (Dutch names are as complicated as Dutch people) I had no idea why Rembrandt painted “two right hands” for this poor man. I thought it was just the artist`s prerogative until I researched about the man on the table.

The story is actually quite interesting. The body on the table is the body of a 41 year old Adriaan Adriaaanszoon (another complicated Dutch name), a criminal who had been sentenced to death. Only criminals were allowed to be used for dissections in those times.
What is little known is that the criminal had already had his hand chopped off before as punishment for stealing! The painter used his imagination to recreate that scene.

I was quite moved by how the painter managed to sum this criminals life`s specifics with a mere paint and a paintbrush and this made me think that maybe our lives are not as complicated as we may like/make them to sound.

Maybe the music is not composed by a drunken retard with a broken trumpet. I am tempted to believe that all the chaos of our lives is a controlled chaos, that redirects our path. The meaning in our lives is crafted by all those meaningless minor events to create a more meaningful life.

A sick and dehumanising society

A sick and dehumanising society.

It is easy to prove how similar we all are. It is difficult proving how different we all are. Throughout history evil man have tried to make “diagnostic tests” that will make it easy to divide the human race. I have heard stories about the notorious ‘Pencil Test’ – a test carried out by government officials on those who wished to be classified as ‘white’ in the days of apartheid. The test went something like this: a pencil was inserted into the hair of the person wishing to be reclassified – if it fell to the floor, ‘white’ classification was granted, if it stayed in place, ‘colored’ classification remained. There were further layers in the test – if someone, wished to be reclassified as ‘colored’ from ‘black’ the same pencil would be inserted and the person had to then shake their head. If the pencil stayed in, no reclassification!

A sick and dehumanising society.

In his quest to prove that people are not good enough to be qualified as human being, Hilter instructed that peoples nose and hair color and beliefs should qualify them to be human-beings.

A sick and dehumanising society.

When I was standing in front of 600 pictures at Cape Town Haulocaust Center, every picture representing someone’s sister, brother, aunt and cousin I was overwhelmed with shame of being a human being. I have never been shameful of ever belonging to a human race, but realizing how brutal human beings can be towards one other, I could help thinking animals are better than humans, because at least they kill out of hunger or self defense, we kill out of anger and hatred.

A sick and dehumanising society.

I was very shocked when I thought about my thoughts, and I realized that as much as Hitler is different from me he is also similar. The bitter truth is at some point in his life he was nursed by the warmth of a loving mother, he was nourished by the breasts of a women, he smiled as a child, he enjoyed the taste of sugar tantalizing his taste-buds, these are some of the similarities that I shared with “baby Adolf” , How did he not see these simple truths about human beings?

A sick and dehumanising society.

I finally understood what Rholihlahla Mandela meant when he said “all humans were created equal and should be treated equally.” The moment we start thinking that we are different or better than a certain group of people, we device an excuse why we should treat people less of human beings and we start brutalizing them.

A sick and dehumanising society.

Few personal questions surfaced about myself whic  had to answered urgently. I needed to know why do I consider myself a black South African? Why is being South African not enough for me? It dawned on me that I belong to a way-better race, THE HUMAN RACE. Before I am a Xhosa, South African and African, I am a human being, a species that sits at the throne of all living creatures. Contrary to the popular believe (that Nazi`s and the apartheid government believed) when we further sub-classify this human race we diminish the value of who we are.

A sick and dehumanising society.

FATHERS AND FATHERHOOD

The experience of many South African men has been powerfully influenced by history. Particularly black fathers were separated from their children by the need to work in distant places on the terms of Migration Act that permitted only one annual visit home. The work was physically hard and the environment was brutal it produced men who were immune to pain, hardship and violence. What happened to our villages when these men of steel came back home is another story on it`s own.

Caring for the most part was considered to be a task exclusively for women. The children had to find means and ways to live and survive without fathers. Our rural homesteads were fatherless, mothers had to play fathers. Not all fathers are proud to be fathers, and unfortunately not all fathers want to participate in their children`s lives in fact most South African men do not seem interested in the lives of their children, now we have cases where boys die trying to be better man. The men who manage to get fatherhood right through a series of trail-and-error are too old to use their wisdom and too stingy to share it with young men who are still trying to figure it all out.

Men do not talk about these things, their struggle to manhood is kept secrete, we act as if we are made of steel, the moment a boy start squinting his eyes to cry  they are told to “ man up, men don’t cry we should suck it up!” unfortunately in the process of sucking it up we suck it up so hard we begin to asphyxiate and die in our silence. Society expects us to be Superman * but even Superman had kryptonite* Is it that important to preserve this existing social structure that males, as a gender and a clan, be pushed to psychological suffocation  that leads a robotic life – running on social instructions?

As young men we need other men as role models,  we need someone to take us through the mazes of being a man, our mothers can not do that, we appreciate the  warmth of their embrace and the nourishment of their breast milk but that’s not enough to make boys to men. You must understand that a father is a guide to a boy, he announces what a boy will become, and he explains to him how to pave your course through the chaos of masculinity.

If we are going to have a healthy family structure, no one should be left outside, boys need as much coaching and empowerment as girls, should we fail at this we risk continuing this vicious circle of absent fathers sometimes physically present. We risk our brothers turning to drugs for solutions; we risk a generation of boys that seeks to be confirmed as men through beating women.

Today, the media is replete with news of crimes committed by men and with anti-male sentiments provoking male hatred and the society, including men, is silent about it. Because, we have so high expectations from men and because we take them for granted, society holds only those men responsible for the crimes reported, against whom it is reported. We are forgetting the famous quote by Henry Thomas, “Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it”.

Squarely blaming men for crimes is not going to reduce it, it will rather increase it. It is pertinent to realize that even if a man commits a crime, he does not do it by choice; he is rather forced and cornered to such an extent that he is left with no other options. Notwithstanding crime and nor an attempt to justify crime, but it must be pertinent and enlightening realization that crime can only be reduced by eliminating  factors that leave men with no options but crime and not the criminal.

Lack of choices in men’s life and lack of “Male Empowerment” are two key indirect contributors to crime as it wipes off the trust of the society from the man and he takes to the ultimatum. Crime by men is not a disease, it’s just a symptom; symptom of a far more serious disease – Misandry and Male Disposability. Choice belies with the society, whether to work on symptoms or to attack the disease, the root cause. In my opinion “Male Empowerment” is the call of the day, what do you think?