By Howard Feldman
South Africa might have won the Rugby World in 2007, but for some reason, this week feels like 1995. Not because Hilary Clinton is the First Lady of the United States, and not that we are dancing to the Macarena. And certainly not because Kate Moss and Johnny Depp are still together. But rather because there is a feeling of positivity and optimism that is in the air.
1995 was the year that saw Braveheart win Best Picture. Mel Gibson also took home the Oscar for Best actor for his portrayal of freedom fighter William Wallace. Wallace of course was known to have courageously fought the English, without underwear. Wallace that is, not the English. The fact that he ended his life hanged, drawn and quartered by Edward I of England, I am hoping will not impact on this otherwise very optimistic narrative.
Over the past few months, there has been a visible attempt by South Africans to be positive. The #Imstaying movement, although a little irritating at times, is firm proof of our need to appreciate that which we have in the country. Most of the stories are not about the slick infrastructure, magnificent medical or educational system, but rather about the spirit of “Ubuntu” that has come to represent the people of the country.
For years we feared that the dream of the Rainbow nation lay in tatters at the feet of Zuma and his corrupt cronies, and we feared that as the financial crises, caused largely by wholesale theft, would forever destroy the goodwill of the people. Strain does terrible things and there were times when we turned on each other, rather than on those responsible, to vent our anger and our frustration. But within a short time, following Zuma’s exit from office, it is possible to see tangible evidence that the spirit of South Africans has returned and that we once again have the chance to become the nation that Mandela believed that we are capable of being.
Although I am not a rugby fan, I am a fan of South Africa. I am a fan of the team that represents all South Africans and that has shown that “Together we are stronger.” I am fan of our captain Siya Kolisi who has proven that with determination, drive, hard work and talent we can achieve the impossible. And I am a fan of his father who will be traveling abroad for the 1st time in his life, in order to see his son lead the country into battle. I am a fan of President Cyril Ramaphosa who playfully tweeted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
“See you on Saturday BoJo @BorisJohnson when you will be watching Siya, the team and I hoist high Webb Ellis Cup. A STERLING showing once again by the @Springboks. Our national teams have just been doing amazingly on the international stage. #WALvRSA #RWC2019 #StrongerTogether
I am a fan of the fans who wear their green and gold to work, just because they can, and I am a fan of the barista on the SABC’s morning show Espresso who predicted that South Africa will beat the English “2-1.”
Whereas I am not a fan of Total Sports’ decision to remove Eben Etsebeth’s posters from their stores because “they chose not to be controversial” I think that we should give them a break and move on. Just as we should give Panyaza Lesufi a pass for having made a mistake about seeing an apartheid flag in the crowd. He was wrong. He apologised. No more needs to be said.
1995 might have been the year that declared that Brad Pitt was the “Sexiest Man Alive,” but it was also the year when for the first time all South Africans stood together and supported the same outcome. It was a year of hope and year that of infinite possibility.
We need to bottle that and party like it’s 1995.
About Howard Feldman
Howard Feldman is one of South Africa’s leading entrepreneurs. His experience is global and extensive, spanning more than 20 years of working as a business strategist, keynote speaker, published author, both locally and globally, social and political commentator, morning drive show host and philanthropist.
Feldman provides insights into strategic thinking, motivation, facilitating solutions and addressing organisational challenges.
Feldman has used his experience and innate understanding of markets and business to also take his career into the fields of writing and radio. He is the author of two successful books – Carry-on Baggage and Tightrope: Musings of Circus South Africa. His third book; Smile, dammit was released in March 2019.
He is also the Morning Mayhem host on ChaiFM from 6am-9am, Mondays to Fridays.
Part of Howard’s career includes a 15-year stint building a global commodity trading business. He found significant conventional success, but lost himself along the way. His journey is an exploration of authenticity and meaning. Armed with business and academic knowledge as well as a brave and unflinching sense of humour, Howard uses his personal experience to educate and entertain.
Howard Feldman works extensively in executive and corporate training. His delivery draws on real-world experience, recognising the value of people and relationships without compromising the energy of entrepreneurship and career growth, providing audiences with applicable wisdom and the tools needed to thrive within a mercurial and challenging business world. He has a unique, positive outlook and courageously engages in conversations that most would prefer not to have. Through humour, insight, and disruptive thinking, Howard unravels complexities, unlocks talent, and ignites potential.