Igniting the Sleeping Giant and Unleashing Human Potential

Given the challenges men face today in South Africa and the world, this topic is more purposeful, relevant and urgent. MEN have a greater responsibility. Men hold positions of power and have a bigger influence. We are leaders in many respects and we have an obligation to lead and guide society. Today many respectable men are in the news for wrong things.

Unpacking the concepts from a dictionary

IGNITING = to light up, to catch or cause fire, to explode, to set off

GIANT = huge, great, enormous, gigantic, massive, colossal, mammoth, immense, tremendous, mighty

UNLEASHING = unleashing greatness is a corner stone for leadership. Releasing, setting free, loosening, unloose, unbridle, untying, unchaining,

HUMAN POTENTIAL = ability, capability and capacity to develop into something in the future; skills, experience, talents, education

Knowledge is power. But applied knowledge is even more powerful

I always strive to apply and share the knowledge I have gained over time. To blend this with my personal life experiences, my gifts or blessings.

The above-mentioned title is action-oriented. Science confirms that for every action, there’s reaction. Reaction has its own outcomes or results, which can either be positive or negative. It can either lead to success or failure. Good or bad. This chain reaction is about the duality of life. Everything in life doubles. Whatever disappears, gets replaced by its opposite.


Igniting the sleeping giant and unleashing human potential is about striving for greatness, excellence and outstanding results. This is part of human nature. No human being wants to achieve bad results. Success is part of our DNA. We were all born to succeed



Examples of powerful affirmation:

Mohammad Ali:

“I am the greatest. I sting like a bee and fly like a butterfly”


For the llamas:

‘I want to ignite the sleeping giant. I want to unleash human potential’


Life Is a Journey and only God knows the Destination


I believe that travelling is a human right issue. Every human being is bound to travel. Travelling is key because you learn about other countries, peoples and their way of life. In 2000, I embarked on a study tour to South America (Bolivia, Chile and Nicaragua) to learn about water sector reforms and regulatory practices, including community management and ownership of water supply systems.

I interacted with diverse spectrum of individuals and organisations such as Chief Executive Officers of water companies, Superintendents/Regulators, cabinet ministers, mayors of municipalities and local communities or beneficiaries of community water supply services. Besides the knowledge and deep insight I gained from these conversations, I was blown apart by the scenery, culture and people of Bolivia and their way of life. This experiences compelled me to write a book (fiction), based on a treasured South American animal called Llama. A domesticated pack animal of the camel family found in the Andes. A beast of burden. A sacred or spirit animal. Llamas are purposeful animals for Bolivians. They are sociable and friendly with kids, provide security, clothing, pride, wool, meat and transport.

Llama Confessions is inspired by llamas and the 16th century Trans-Atlantic slavery, in the silver mining industry of Potosi and Mexico. This book explores issues of slavery, exploitation, sexuality, politics, fashion, art, mental health, romance and adventure. Travelling is central to lessons identified below. That is, travelling:

  • is not as expensive as one may think, especially if one plans for it on time
  • opens your eyes, mind and ears, giving you perspectives about life. Seeing the world through the eyes of others
  • provides self-introspection, by allowing you to find your purpose and passion in life
  • creates meaningful relationships with others
  • helps one learn new languages, cultures and other people’s ways of life
  • is educational as you can learn about the politics, history and unique environments
  • makes one’s dreams come true






A llama has a purpose. A value proposition.

Do you?

To assist you, spend a minute looking into a mirror and ask yourself the following questions:

Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going?

There is a saying, if you don’t know where you’re going in life, chances are that you’ll end up nowhere/somewhere. Where you end up may come as a surprise to you. Unknowingly, that is the choice you would have made. To avoid this, you need to make your life to become purposeful. Ask yourself:

  • What is special about your life?
  • What makes you wake up every morning? What is your understanding of life?
  • What are my strengths (strong points) and weaknesses (limitations)
  • What do people think of you?
  • Do you regard yourself a happy person?
  • Do you think people like you?
  • Do you think you are a leader in your community or workplace?


The truth is, everyone has a purpose in life. No one was born poor, but our circumstances and thoughts made us so.

“Your circumstances and situations never keep you down. The only things that keep you down and keep you stuck are your thoughts.” ― John Kehoe, Mind Power Into the 21st Century




We all have gifts, talents and blessings. Have you already figured out yours?

We have all been blessed. You are all blessed.

Do you think you can bless others and become a blesser too? The bible makes it clear that ‘God blesses us not so we can live with greed, but so we can bless others’

Pray with and for others. Take negative thoughts out of your system.

Help others to unleash their potential. Become a volunteer. Organise football clinics at your local school. Clean the streets. Don’t expect anything in return. Give away what you have. Receive God’s favour and protection. The more you give, the more blessings/talents will come your way.




God is good to us. Look up to Him. Connect with a Super Power. Creator. The universe. It doesn’t mean on a Sunday you have to be at a place called CHURCH. If you find the time and willing to go there, that is a bonus.

Talk to trees. Animals. They are Gods creation. The universe. Somehow, we are all connected. Everything around us is connected to everything. Everything is energy. Universal energy. Your body needs one. Trees need one. Dogs, Donkeys, Llamas. The chair you seating on. The cell phone you are using. The shoes you’re wearing. Everything vibrates at a certain frequency. You can’t see this with a naked eye.

Like it or not, God talks to us all the time and in many different ways. Whatever you want, shall be granted. Good and bad things that happen to you, are God driven.

Life is a journey. Before you embark on your life journey, that is, going to work, grocery store, holiday, gym, anywhere, on your way, have conversations with God. Listen to God because God wants to be listened to.

Become God’s messenger. Appreciate small things in your journey.

Once you have developed a relationship with GOD, everything in your life will fall into place.




Falling in love is the most precious thing God has bestowed to us. Love is magic. Love is the most powerful emotion ever to be experienced by human beings. It is a feeling. Love is life. Love is happiness. God is love. Love is God.

Fall in love with something. Hug a tree. Embrace nature. Be happy. Rejoice. Don’t start conflict/fights. If possible, walk away from confrontation. Kill your enemies with kindness. Shower people with happiness. Happiness like air is in abundance. It’s free.

Protect those close to you. Children, women, parents, neighbours, community.

The secret is, if you don’t love yourself, you can’t expect to fall in love with others. Love yourself first, then you can love others.




Companies grow brands. Individuals too. Think of yourself as a successful brand.

How do you want to be remembered? Do you know your identity? Character. How do people perceive you?

Develop a mark around your name. Develop skills, personal attributes and values that others will emulate/like.

Figure out what you’re good at. Who follows you on social media and why?

Develop a brand before others do it for you.

Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Know your blessings, your gifts and talents.

Give back to the community.

There’s too much competition out there. What’s different from you to the next person? Uniqueness is key. Humility is virtue.

At the end, see how everything in life fits together

All 5 lessons are interlinked and inter-related. You can’t unleash other people’s potential if you don’t fit the 5 criteria or lessons. You can’t ignite the sleeping giant or unleash your own potential:

  • If you don’t know yourself and your purpose (O le motho fela?)
  • If you don’t want to share your gifts, talents and blessings
  • If you don’t communicate with God. God helps those who surrender to Him. Those who help themselves
  • If you don’t know love. How do you love others if you don’t love yourself
  • If you are not a brand. Not even some form of a label. Unknown or pretentious. Arrogant. People perceive you as a Fake. Bully. Untrustworthy. Unfaithful. How will you then unleash other people’s potential?

Message: Go out there and ignite the sleeping giants, unleash your potential. I wish this movement can grow from strength to strength. We should grow our villages, small towns, grow large towns, grow cities and show the whole world that we have the potential and capacity to IGNITE and UNLEASH our own potential and those of others.

My favorate Setswana quote from primary school that inspired me throughout my life journey:

‘Se ke eletsang gore se dirwe mo lefatsheng le o le sa kgoreletseng dikeletso tsa me’

Everything starts somewhere, with a small idea. At the end, death is certain. Life is a journey. Enjoy while it still lasts. Live it fully and leave behind a legacy.



My Favourate Top 50 Quotations from Llama Confessions

  • Poverty retards and undermines people’s capacity to think, to learn and to grow. The scourge of poverty works against the rights of the poor and their dignity.
  • Sunlight has become comparable to truthfulness and faithfulness. Many people are sincere, but less faithful, at least to themselves.
  • In life, three types of hunger exist: sexual hunger, physical hunger and emotional hunger.
  • The beasts, lights, silence, burden, seduction, dead music, ambience, fragrance, and sensuality were all the perfect ingredients of the Lola magic.
  • Jazz and rock seem geometrically, musically and worldly apart, but soulfully and spiritually connected. Their sounds manifest and vibrate energy.”
  • Life without love is just like a day without light, a night without stars.
  • A soul mate is a temporary feeling, a state of mind. You fall in love today and the following day out of love. This pendulum swing of feelings is just like change of season… winter and summer, spring and autumn. As the season changes, so does the soul. As the soul changes, so does the mate.
  • The boat was our spiritual pivotal point, a true universe of the lake, revealing itself to unsuspecting tourists. A noisy engine and the totora reeds were a reminder of how complex and interwoven life can become. The noises people hear when they first fall in love.
  • Melting ice of the Andean glacier has become the major source of water supply. A clear sign that Pachamama is listening to the plight of ordinary people.
  • These boys needed a role model, love, hope, food, and shelter, not just food and cash.
  • Psychiatrists see an illness, and not a person. They treat an illness, and not a patient.
  • Mental illness is not a curse, but a gift from God.
  •  Llamas provide them with a sense of security, wealth, and pride. They symbolise success and prestige in the community.
  • Diplomatic rationality was replaced by mental anguish, in the company of people of a lesser God.
  • Jesus entered Jerusalem dramatically and triumphantly, riding a borrowed donkey.
  • Madness and its forces of darkness have led to a wedge between psychiatry and us;
  • Without crazy people, there is no market for psychiatrists and psychologists. Without worshippers, priests will cease going to a synagogue
  •  The people, the natural and physical environments of old white colonial buildings of Sucre and the snow-white Mount Illimani, are driving me to belief that God is somewhere.
  • Today, coupled with magic, love, art and science, religion has become transformed into an all-powerful institution
  •  Psychiatrists too practise magic. The shamans too have healing powers. They can cast the spells. Holy sex workers practice magic with their clients. Happiness is magic. There is magic in the Amazon jungle, the bushveld, in the mining tunnels. The silver from Potosi created magic for Spanish alchemists. Everything we touch, everywhere we move, magic, like air, is in abundance. The healing powers of magic are with us all the time.
  •  Those who are fortunate to realise it will tap into it and use it for their advantage. Those who are not familiar with the magic they have, will forever seek to make sense of life. They will never be happy, for happiness is just a state of mind. You can create and recreate it. Like air, the formula is free to anyone.
  • When mental illness strikes, we resort to the discourse. But when it subsides, we resort to stigma.
  • Her exquisite beauty and my career as a diplomat made me understand how things in life influence each other. This means that everything ends in time, so that it can be replaced by its opposite
  •  The jungle will make me see things in an extraordinary light than the darkness I’ve been through recently
  •  I became a diplomat because diplomats are God’s messengers. They are God’s eyes and ears.
  • Many of us expect things to always be the same and when things do not correspond to what we wish, we cannot adjust ourselves to what life brings. Our inability to know of both sides of the pendulum, makes us too one-sided, inflexible and more prone to other physical and mental health woes. Misfortunes can be prevented, if we know our pivotal points upfront.
  • Change is indispensable. If we don’t see this balance manifesting itself in our daily living, then we’re losing one of the finest gifts ever conferred by God to human beings. Magic. Once we become conscious of this gift, we’re destined to prosperity
  •  Che Guevara’s ingenious mind as a physician with intellectual shrewdness and reasoning as a revolutionary was usually confounded with madness
  •  In my world, whites invented racism, and white supremacy gave birth to black supremacy
  •  Indecisiveness is a killer. Populism is dangerous. Democracy is indecisive
  •  You need a lethal combination of lunacy and a veneer of diplomacy to free the poor of their suffering.”
  • Farming is a discipline. You don’t need a farm, but passion and requisite skills to farm.
  •  Politics is everything.” I argued. “In the jungle, at church, in your own home, everywhere. There’s politics in arts, fashion, psychiatry. Everything is politics
  •  The Amazon jungle is a more complex, intricate, and uncertain, with its labyrinth of underground, moist, mysterious green tunnels of foliage. The bushveld is drier, more tolerant, and less energetic. The jungle yields far greater energy than the bushveld.
  • They call it anthropomorphism. This is the ‘Law of the Rights of Mother Earth.’ By law, the Amazon is treated as a human being. It is sacred land indispensable to humankind. This law subscribes to a mix of key natural elements; the air, the sun and water
  •  We survived the ramped up seasons, feeling the cold weather, the heat, the storms, and the spring. For us, there was merely one season – a season to look after our herds of cattle.
  • The herd boys in the jungle were no different to the lunatics in a psychiatric hospital. They all heard voices, from varied sources. The one group received a sound of birds and other mammals, from the jungle. Others heard voices from their heads.
  • The jungle offered an abundant environment for good and bad things. Where God is, the devil is present. As the saying goes, lightness and darkness co-exists. The jungle makes excessive offerings ranging from pure air, light of the soul and energy. The devil counters these with drugs, exploitation, and even the murder of innocent people.
  • Suffering is a self-inflicted state of mind and thoughts.
  • Can’t quit being gay because I couldn’t quit being tall or short or being white. Nothing can escape the mind and the eyes of deception.
  • I carried out a pledge to God that only an exceptional man will have entry to my castle and the magical light that glitters inside it
  •  You are the soul of my heart. The man I want to spend my entire life with.
  • Happiness is the greatest invention in our lifetime. Many people do not know this open secret
  •  Separation is a simple state of mind. It is not real.
  • The molars of the boys in the dark, resembled ridges of the Andes range
  •  Pam and I have discovered the two sacred elements of life: madness and magic. The Amazon treasures have become the third sacred element.
  • Diplomacy is not for everyone. It is a calling. Diplomats are like herd boys. Beasts of burden.
  • Each cobbled stone on the street represents a slave, the amount of pain and suffering they encountered more than five hundred years ago.
  • Each clattering of the wings from whirring birds above me represented a heartbeat of every street child, a herd boy, a mentally ill person, a slave, a mineworker, a llama, and a donkey.
  • The white people, like pebbles, were sheltering behind opulence and supremacy. The poor, yellow people simply sought protection from the snow.


Become a Disruptor


There is much talk about CAPTURE in South Africa. State Capture. I want to suggest that we also have another Capture. Youth Capture. Our youth is captured/consumed by popular things: materialism, substance abuse, sex and also social media. Connectivity has made it possible for all of us to reach out to other people across the globe. Technology has become an instrument of Youth Capture. Our youth do not take advantage of this opportunity to better themselves. They expect government and private sector to create jobs for them. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every government to create opportunities for its citizens, but the youth should take the lead in initiating innovative programmes. South Africa is rich in mineral resources. There is abundance of wealth. Trillions of Rands in our national budget. However, more than 20 years after our hard-earned democracy, most of our problems (social, political and economic) are self-induced. Some children still go to bed hungry. Pupils still learn under trees and mud class rooms. Communities still drink raw sewerage. Cost of living and cost of funding remains high. A junk status is now with us. Making our situation even dire. About 54% of our youth is unemployed, etc. This picture is bleak. It’s clear that the current generation will be judged harshly by future generations. This begs the question, what is the youth prepared to do when a situation is like this one? The answer is, our youth should become innovators. Industry or market DISRUPTORS (‘A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and eventually disrupts an existing market, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances Harvard Professor, Clayton M. Christensen).

I challenge our youth to become innovative. To Think. Learn. Dream. Travel. Pursue your Goals. Know Yourself, Your Strengths, Know Your Weaknesses. Make Mistakes. Know that in order to succeed, you have to Fall many times until you Rise again. Stay away from the inbox – inward looking. Don’t allow yourself to become CAPTURED. Find Your Purpose in Life. Passion. Don’t accept life for what it is. Accept that everything in life has a purpose. Understand that everything in the universe is ENERGY. That the chair you’re seating on, the glass you’re holding, everything physical that you see, vibrates. But we cannot see these with our naked eyes. Know that we are connected to one universal force and we have the power to create and manifest things. So, you should Create and Design your own reality. Live your reality. Live Your Dreams. Follow the footsteps of Ellon Musk of SpaceX, UBER, airBNB, Facebook, Watsup and all other great innovators. Why must you do all these? Because you CAN. You are bound to succeed. Your success has a ripple-effect. It will assist others. Your failure won’t help anyone.

Embrace the guidance and support you receive from family, friends, teachers, etc. But at your age, don’t expect anyone to shape your destiny. For example, governments don’t create jobs. Don’t be like today’s politicians because they are like bananas. Yellow and Crooked. Rather become a statesman. A quote by Freeman Clarke says: “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.”  – James Freeman Clarke, Sermon

LIFE is a canvas


We are born with a blank canvas. Individually, we are responsible for the pictures of our lives. When we grow up we acquire the tools (paint brushes, oils, etc) for painting. We are born to become successful. We deserve to be happy. Happiness is the greatest invention in our lifetime. Many people do not know this open secret. Some parents even name their children Happiness. Happiness is in abundance. But what is abundance, and how does it manifest (Remez & Dorina Sasson – Affirmation – Words with Power):

  • There is abundance of time.
  • There is abundance in love.
  • There is abundance of friendships.
  • There is abundance of opportunities.
  • There is abundance of fun, entertainment and celebrations.
  • There is abundance of food, music, cake.
  • There is abundance of sand on the beach, trees and flowers at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, water in the ocean.
  • There is abundance of everything on this planet.
  • You could also have abundance of spirituality in your life.
  • You may not have access to this abundance, especially when you refuse to embrace it. When you prevent it from manifesting in your life. This is why sometimes we don’t have the energy. Feeling stressed/depressed/unhappy.The one key lesson you can learn is to develop abundance consciousness. Become aware of yourself. Existence. Your destiny. Nobody can determine your destiny. God has given you the power to find purpose in life, to become fulfilled, attract money, succeed in business, at school, at work, getting rid of negative thoughts, build self-esteem/increase self-confidence, and much more.

Paying tribute to the PEOPLE who matter most

Previously, I have been asked why I chose Bolivia as a setting for my book. I assume the answer lies in me securing a sponsorship to embark on a study tour to Bolivia, Chile and Nicaragua. If this wasn’t the case, I would never have known Bolivia, its people and the llamas. As they say, everything happens for a reason.

Between 1997 and 2000, I was a member of a team (Community Water Supply and Sanitation) employed by the then Department of Water Affairs & Forestry (DWAF), led by the late, flamboyant and passionate Professor Kader Asmal. Back then, DWAF was always abuzz with activity. Every lunch time Professor would cross Schoeman Street, walking to the local shop, flanked and eclipsed by men wearing earpieces and dark suits. DWAF became one of the best performing departments in the country. It attracted the best engineers and other professionals. Professor Asmal used to joke that he made the water sector “sexy” because he successfully shed the misconception of a Department concerned only about ‘forests’ and other “boring technical issues” related to dams. I remember he had a 5 year development plan to eradicate water and sanitation backlogs, especially in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces, by accelerating planning and capital expenditure programme of water services projects. He mobilised private sector companies, setting up institutional and stakeholder partnerships, both at national and provincial levels, including Project Steering Committees for each individual project. Through an impact assessment study conducted by the World Bank, many successes were recorded. However, shortcomings of this programme were also highlighted, bringing to light issues of sustainability, viability, community ownership and operations and maintenance.

During this period, I met a gentleman by the name of Mr Richard Noth, an American-based, Independent Consultant and Senior Consulting Advisor for water sector management and finance. He was seconded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on an assignment in the late 90s to advice the DWAF on issues of institutional development, finance and public private partnerships of water and sanitation services. Richard has had many years of experience in management, advising governments in 25 countries (including Bolivia and South Africa) on a range of management and other factors supporting sustainable environmental infrastructure. He directed 22 development projects, recently Chief of Party for USAID in Jordan and US Navy in Guam. This is how I got to know Bolivia, through Richard. I am not conversant in Spanish. Richard therefore accompanied me on field visits to La Paz and El Alto, to interact with local communities there, playing the role of an interpreter for me and advisor for the local people. I am highly indebted to Richard for his willingness to assist me during this study tour. Most importantly, for unlocking the doors of Cabinet Ministers, Regulators and Chief Executive Officers of water operators in Bolivia. Looking back, I wouldn’t have written this book, let alone embarked on a study tour to Bolivia, had it not been the support of Richard and Mr Sergio Guzman of USAID.

 Both countries, Bolivia and South Africa share something in common. Tradition. Culture and Natural Resources. The one extreme though is that Bolivia is one of the poorest countries, with the lowest per capita per income, in the world. It’s common knowledge that poverty retards and undermines people’s capacity to think, to learn and to grow. The scourge of poverty works against the rights of the poor and their dignity.

Bolivia straddles the centre of South American countries of Peru and Chile. The capital of Bolivia, La Paz, is located within towering, barren and magnificent mountains that takes your breath away. This is a welcoming sign of a home of the oldest Spanish capital, a city with mesmerising and fabulous landscapes. The high mountain passes and bumpy roads are characterised by sheer slopes with blind hairpin bends, notoriously called roads of death.

Tradition and culture is an important landmark for Bolivia. The city is embellished by the most colourful and friendly-looking Andes people. During any normal day, the indigenous Andean women wear multi-layered skirts and petticoats, with plaited strands of hair. The more affluent, in their normal western-style attires. Their street corner businesses are dominated by shoe shiners, weavers of ponchos and textiles. The majority rural peasants of Bolivia are dispersed along the mountain ranges and survive by breeding and herding llamas, which give them a sense of pride, wealth, transport and wool. Like coca leaves, llamas provide a great value to Andes peasants, particularly those living along the Altiplanos. Coca leaves play an important cultural, physiological and economic role for the indigenous people.

Compared to other South American countries such as Argentina, Peru and Brazil, Bolivia is a little known country. Yet, this is a country which can be credited for its role in the branding of a soft drink, Coca Cola, which bought the rights from Bolivia in 1886 for the use of coca leaf. Buying these rights was a turning point of departure in shaping the social, economic and political discourse of the Bolivian society.

Bolivia, like South Africa, shares a lot in common because exploitation of natural resources in South Africa is also premised on privilege and economic power. The question is; what can South Africa learn from these experiences, in protecting the rights and interests of the indigenous rural communities where mining activities are becoming rife? Is there still some platinum fever left in the provinces of North West and Limpopo? Are the vulnerable rural communities well-organised to challenge the status quo created by the most powerful mining groups? What lessons can we learn from the 16th century Potosi silver mining in Bolivia and the experiences of the Bafokeng tribe, in Phokeng (Rustenburg) and how best do we position local communities, develop and strengthen their local leadership, through youth, tribal authorities and women empowerment?

The manner in which natural resources and commodities are regulated, exploited and distributed, should serve as a concern for the South African government, especially when the livelihoods of local communities are simply left out at the mercy of the mining magnates. It should be stated that those who exploit natural resources at the expense of the indigenous communities are actually committing human rights abuses. The challenge to the Department of Minerals and Energy is to transcend the current regulatory regime and introduce stricter mining ethics which ensure ongoing economic impact analysis of these mining activities, in terms of sustainable jobs, rural income, through royalties and share ownership. The Department should regularly monitor and determine how rural communities benefit and measure how the mining activities impact on their lives. Historically, marginalised peoples have relied on the endowed natural resources and biodiversity, in terms of subsistence usage. Creating a culture of empowerment requires a conscious effort to understand the dichotomous relationship between indigenous people and their natural environment. The latter has an intrinsic value to them, such as their cultural and historical heritage. It is therefore not unreasonable for communities in Bolivia, South Africa and elsewhere, to ask for a share of the natural commodities.






Mental health is the wealth of our nation

Mental health should become every nation’s wealth. South Africa is no different from any other country or nation whose people experience debilitating mental illnesses caused (directly or indirectly) by myriad factors. That is to say, mental ill-health is a global phenomenon. A journey to recovery.

Gauteng, specifically Johannesburg, is the economic heart-beat and powerhouse of South Africa’s economy. Johannesburg is driven by the sophisticated financial sector, top retail, commercial and manufacturing services. This city can pull you into success or push you out into oblivion. It is a place where only the fittest can survive. Having worked in the corporate sector myself, I’ve seen how people’s dreams are made and lives shattered. People struggle to survive emotionally, economically and socially. Those who don’t survive, end up abusing variety of substances, as a coping mechanism. Others, end up in doctors’ consultation rooms with diverse mental health related disorders. In most cases, due to the stigma attached to mental illness, these individuals ‘hide away’ and suffer in silence. Here’s how:

  • Highly competitive, high performance, cut throat private sector organisations drive people into stress, often depression
  • High cost of living drive people into debt, stress, often depression
  • Peer and social pressure drive people into debt, stress, often depression
  • Broken relationships/marriages drive people into depression, often suicide


Any combination of the above factors does not bode well for the mental health of people. Professionals in particular, find it hard to ask for assistance or support. When confronted with a mental illness, they withdraw, lose interest, ending up with a diminished sense of purpose.

Experience elsewhere, shows that community based rehabilitation facilities do play a crucial role in creating opportunities for people living with mental illnesses to become re-integrated back into society and work places. One such example of a community based rehabilitation facility is Fountain House, based in Observatory, Cape Town. This centre plays a vital role in the lives of people living with psychiatric disabilities. It creates opportunities for them to begin the journey of recovery, find meaning in life and actively contribute to the social and economic wellbeing of each other and their families. This is achieved through participation and training in four work units at the centre: administration, catering, a paper making workshop, and the employment/communications unit (Fountain House, South Africa).

A Fountain House model or clubhouse was first developed in New York in 1948. Cape Mental Health pioneered the establishment of the Cape Fountain House. I am privileged to have worked under Cape Mental Health and interacted with persons affiliated to Fountain House, between 1991 and 1994. When I heard about the recent deaths of more than 100 patients in Johannesburg, I thought about the caring and diligence of staff, the well-being of patients and the overall effectiveness of Fountain House. South Africa’s mentally ill community can benefit from such facilities.

The severity of psychiatric disability will dictate the required level of care. Majority of patients who attend Fountain House are individuals who are independent, productive and can easily be integrated into society. Indication is that there are very few places which create opportunities for the economic and social well-being of patients. South Africa’s reforms of the mental health systems should introduce programmes that seek to address the stigma, recreation, training and vocation, nutrition, supported employment opportunities and many more. Rehabilitation should take into consideration the vitality needs, welfare, intellectual stimulation, lifestyle and caring of people living with mental illness or disabilities. The current deaths of patients due to alleged negligence points to a need for a complete overhaul of the mental health care system in South Africa. However, the responsible authorities need to tread carefully between institutionalization and de-institutionalization. The veracity of any policy choice need to be thoroughly investigated and tested, before major policy decisions are made.






Life is a pendulum. Do you know your pivotal point?

In recent times we’ve experienced unprecedented pendulum swings in global politics, trade relations, human rights, wars and conflicts, etc. In particular, American politics have taught us that you can never take anything for granted. Populism is having an upper hand over democracy. Individualism over collectivism. The unintended consequences of some of these unfolding events and human psychology will ultimately bear long term negative effect on the lives of other people elsewhere in the globe. This chain reaction (cause-effect) will be felt at global level, continental, local (country), family, and ultimately, at an individual. This shows that global issues are complex and structural in nature and in the long term, do impact somehow on the lives of ordinary people, especially the poorest of the poor.

This blog places an individual at the centre of the above-mentioned global issues. Our lives are in a state of flux and danger. We constantly react to pressures placed upon us; at home, work place, community and society as a whole. This begs the question; are we emotionally ready to absorb the daily beatings we encounter? Have we found coping mechanisms to deal with these pressures? Do we know what makes us happy? Are we aware of our daily emotional roller-coaster rides and the effect these have on our mental and physical health?

We need to understand our situations and find a balance. A pivot. Life without problems or challenges is boring. What we need is a coping mechanism to identify, understand and manage our situations. We need to know life dichotomies or doubles. Pendula. Swings.

The most fascinating doubles/opposites can be found in economics (boom and slump), finance (greed and philanthropy) and mental health (sorrow and joy). These swings reveal what we are and where we are likely to be in future. They manifest a human behaviour not always easily understood. The one reinforces the other, and vice versa. For example, government policies (economic, finance, trade, etc.) reflect the very feature of how politics influences our lives. Policies governments design and implement influence our well-being, positively or negatively. That is to say, there is an abundance of swings in the pendula. Everything is in a state of flux.

Life is indeed a pendulum. If you have watched an old wall clock pendulum swing back and forth, left and right, then you’ll understand the logic that things swing between two opposite ends. For example, from one end (birth) to the other (death). The following Bible scripture (Ecclesiastes 3.1-8) provides a clearer analogy, that there is

 “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”

 Nothing is constant. Hence it’s very important to know one’s pivot(al) point. Know yourself. Know people around you. Be aware of the law of the pendulum because it regulates everything in this universe; politics, health, economics, finance, relationships, weather patterns, trade, etc.

We can see the law of pendulum in nature, for example, in the change of time from day to night, change of season from winter to summer. We can see it also in the world of human phenomena. For example, the swings from calm to anger through community protests, war to peace, from prosperity to recession. We can also see the law of pendulum in ourselves as we swing from feeling cold to feeling hot, feeling hopeless to feeling hopeful, loving to hating. In time some pendula hit their opposites more frequently than others, i.e. they are moving faster in time than other pendula. Becoming angry and becoming calm, or calm and becoming angry. For example, driving to work, in a joyous mood when suddenly you become involved in a road rage.

Life is full of opposites. These opposites force us to have a counterbalance in all things. Sometimes we need to go through rough experiences, to be able to appreciate life and other fellow human beings.

We therefore need to be ‘conscious’ of time and space in order to understand how things in life influence each other. This means that everything comes to an end in time, so that one thing is replaced by its opposite. In turn, this means that the end of political stability is political instability (protests), peace is war, the end of winter is spring and if we have a good time today we may have a bad time tomorrow. If you embrace the concept of sustainable development you’ll understand that decisions of today can have desirable or disastrous consequences for future generations.

Pendula swings are about change. We should try to find our strengths and weaknesses. Begin to be conscious of opposites at the same time. Be able to anticipate, adjust and manage of our lives because change is inevitable. We should try to see pendula in ourselves, others and the environment around us.

As you embark on a journey to discover your own pivot, take time to read the following quotations:

Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself” (Og Mandino)

“Happiness is an inner state of well being. A state of well being enables you to profit from your highest: thoughts, wisdom, intelligence, common sense, emotions, health, and spiritual values in your life” (Lionel Ketchian)

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” (Aristotle).



Life is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride

For obvious reasons, I love Cape Town. My career began there in 1988 and l never looked back. Travelling to the Cape of Good Hope has become a pilgrimage. The National road (N1) between Johannesburg and Cape Town is a journey less travelled. Flying has become a norm. I don’t have a problem with flying, but road travel can influence and shape a person’s life.

Many of my friends and colleagues turn red when they discover that I prefer a road trip to Cape Town instead of flying. My usual philosophical excuse and the adage that ‘Life is a Journey’ is usually shunned for two reasons. First, the cost element and the time it takes to get there. This is travel economics. Second, long distance versus safety considerations. Granted, these are valid reasons to dissuade me to drive to the Cape. On average, I drive three times a year, from Johannesburg to Cape Town. I normally rest half-way. A single distance is around 1,450 kilometers. Let’s say on average I do 5,000 km X 3 trips, which equals 15,000 km per annum. Over the past twenty five years I have driven 15,000 X 25, which equals 375, 000 km. Crazy, isn’t it?

Crazy thoughts indeed. But I look at this differently. For me, 375, 000 km represent the number of experiences and moments in my journey. These can range from driver experiences, close calls, our awesome road infrastructure, to the natural and scenic Cape mountain range. Road travel is the best time to catch up with oneself, to reflect. To marvel at the moon, the stars. I like the nothingness of the Karoo. This entire phenomenon is closer to what you’d call ADVENTURE. It doesn’t matter if you have company or not. After all, passengers fall asleep most of the time.

My destination is never a focal point. Once I pass Bloemfontein, the sign ‘Cape Town 1,020 km’ appears on the road side. I become more excited because I know that there are 1,020 experiences ahead of me. Every 200 km I take a rest. Often, I obey the rules of the road. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Hence it’s very important that we all obey the rules to stay alive. The current road accident statistics are a sign of something gone wrong on our national roads. Something to do with our lack of safety consciousness and our general bad attitudes.

My point is not to lecture you on road safety. But bring your attention to the duality between a journey and a destination. In life, we tend to look at things in a linear fashion. To book a flight ticket to Cape Town and arrive there in two hours. We are obsessed with destination. We have been designed to think that way. To arrive and chill. This fits the realm of what is called ‘normal’. We have been socialized and taught that time is money and money is time. To become one-dimensional, economical, materialistic and competitive. To become less conscious of others, our environment and too conscious about things which bring HAPPINESS in our lives. Our mental health and material health have become so intertwined that we tend to lose ourselves. Material wealth is about what most of us strive for. That is ‘happiness’, whilst mental health has become a by-product.

Economics and our mental health have become the core of what we are, who we are and where we are likely to be in the future. Mental health economics reflects the very feature of how economics influences our lives, the way we approach life, live, play, work and relate to others. It is at the core our personality, behaviors and attitudes.

Many of us expect things to always be the same and when things do not correspond to what we wish, we cannot adjust ourselves to what life brings. On a daily basis, we travel to various destinations, over-looking the entire journey. We miss out on many life experiences. Our inability to know of both sides of the pendulum, makes us too one-sided, inflexible and more prone to physical and mental health woes. These woes could be prevented, had we known our pivotal points upfront. First our journey, then destination. Knowing who we are and what is our purpose in life.

Travelling is a journey towards self-discovery. It forces us to step outside our comfort zones. We need to change our attitudes about travel destinations. We need to focus on our life journeys. Our personal development and intellectual growth. Change is indispensable. If we don’t see this balance manifesting itself in our daily living, then we’re losing one of the finest gifts ever conferred by God to human beings. Travel magic. Once we become conscious of this gift, we’re destined to prosperity.

Life is too short. Take your time to appreciate smaller things in life.