A Springbok on the wilderness

2008-09-07 00:00

What could a former Springbok fullback possibly offer an all-sorts audience of greenies, tree-huggers, businesspeople, professionals and others?

Quite a lot, judging by the warm reception to Dr Ian McCallum’s presentation on ecological intelligence at Chamber House recently.

The reason is that the good doctor, actually a psychiatrist, is much more than just a former rugby player, and is perhaps better known for his work on Jungian philosophy, leadership and the wilderness.

His 30-minute presentation under the auspices of the Pietermaritzburg branch of the SA Institute for International Affairs may have ranged far and wide, but also made some telling points.

Key among these was an observation about the appalling quality of political leadership and poor decision making in South Africa, something everyone with half a brain identifies with.

Less predictable was his next point, that this interregnum is to be welcomed, because this shortcoming placed the onus on individuals to take responsibility for their own sphere, and make things happen.

Put differently, the absence of a controlling Big Brother allows us to step up to the plate and decide for ourselves what to make of things.

It also means that we, collectively, have the choice to accept things as they are, or make a difference. Now this is a theme similar to what is rapidly emerging on a national scale, involving people and their organisations who are gatvol of the negativity South Africans so like to wallow in.

McCallum’s sentiments also speak of a more holistic understanding, the so-called bigger picture, that we all too often overlook in our daily tribulations.

He takes his inspiration from the natural order of things that is perhaps best embodied by the integrity of the wilderness.

This is no ethereal nirvana, but very much rooted in a reality right on our doorstep – nature – including the Bisley Nature Reserve.

Allied to this point is the fact that we’re living in an Africa that, in relative terms, is still untouched by the numbskull impacts of civilisation. So determined are we in pursuing the perceived benefits of development that we no longer understand the value of life in its natural state.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves why we are so good at putting distance between ourselves and the natural world, and so bad at recognising the alienation?

Like McCallum said, it’s time to place ourselves in the greater picture, and not on top of the food chain.

Making tracks

If ever there was an opportunity for the city to build cycle tracks, now is the time.

Pietermaritzburg is well on its way to becoming Africa’s premier cycling city, and is gearing up to host a series of World Cup and World Championship events.

Setting the scene is the road racing, Intaka Tech-sponsored World’s View Challenge in February next year, followed by events in the MTB and BMX disciplines.

As irony would have it, the cycling initiative came to the city, rather than the city having gone out to look for it.

But, as organiser Alec Lenferna of the Treble Group pointed out, the Msunduzi Municipality recognised the potential immediately and gave its all-important blessing.

The success of the event now passes into the hands of the city though, and it’s up to individuals and companies to ensure that the window of opportunity is cemented.

The need for collective action was addressed by David Gengan and Brian Zuma of the Msunduzi Municipality. A much as we concur, the rehabilitation of the city’s cycling tracks would take the culture of cycling to new heights.

Catch a wake-up

The cycling jamboree promises rolling mass action of unprecedented scope with the city’s accommodation sector set for the greatest benefit.

Estimates suggest, at the height of the action, the need for between 20 000 and 25 000 beds a night that must be sourced as close as possible to the city.

In here lies the rub in that several local establishments just don’t cut it, and that the organisers are already looking further afield.

The complaints range from a lack of credit card facilities to pathetic money-grabbing efforts by greedy operators.

The bottom line is that the organisers, through the offices of Pietermaritzburg Tourism, are compiling a portfolio of accredited establishments. This is the list one wants to be on, not the list of non-accredited establishments that is a euphemism for places to avoid. There’s still time …

All about energy

The latest in alternative energy technologies will come under the spotlight when a conference dedicated to renewable energy is staged in Johannesburg next month.

The promo material promises a “focused business forum” and an ambitious agenda to discuss global energy security, future scenarios, energy politics, infrastructure, finance, green energy and climate change, alternative energy resources, diversification, and case studies of small-scale and renewable projects in Africa.

For more information contact liz@siyenza.za.com

Andrew Layman

We wish to extend our condolences to Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Andrew Layman on the death of his wife, Val.

She passed away early on Friday morning after a lengthy illness and our thoughts are with Andrew. and his family during this time of grief.

Last word

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. — Roger Miller.

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