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Republic of South Africa

The Animals


Twenty five hundred kilometres, fifteen hundred miles, south of Nairobi, at the southern western end of the African continent is Cape Town, Republic of South Africa. It reminds me of San Francisco. It’s sunny, breezy climate promotes good feeling and prompts you to get outside and have fun.

I arrived in the RSA as the result of a visit by a man from this country. One day in 1987 I picked up the phone and heard a man with a Dutch type accent, I learned later it was Afrikaans. It had evolved from the Dutch language of South Holland spoken by the Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa. The man introduced himself and asked if he could come by and talk about my working in his southern Africa. I’m embarrassed to admit I forget his name. That was about twenty-five years ago. His first name is Jan, pronounced Yan, I think. His last name is Dutch and I just don’t remember it. Shame on me.

Subsequently, he arrived and I found myself facing a neatly dressed, tall, handsome, young man with a pleasant simile. He was a well-built, 6’1” about 180 lbs., with an earnest and energetic air about him. His approach was quite respectful and sincere. I liked him immediately. We talked at length and agreed in principle to my working in RSA. Jan returned the next day and we made a deal for me to spend a couple weeks in the country. He would set up a series in venues around South Africa and I would introduce metrics and analytics to its business and government organizations. A schedule was worked out and plans were made for me to be in Cape Town in 1988.

This was the period when Apartheid was in full power in the country. Nelson Mandela was still in prison. He had been arrested in 1962, and in 1964 was convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. As late as 1987, there were sporadic violent battles in the country as pressure built demanding Mandela’s release. I was wary of traveling there during this time. Nevertheless, it was an opportunity I could not miss.