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Mandela Day 2020: Is There A Magical Future On The Horizon?

By July 17, 2020No Comments
nelson mandela

Can we as Africans create a magical future where our continent achieves its full potential in difficult circumstances? 

We are all creating our own future by our actions and decisions every day. We are also collectively co-creating the future of our country and our continent. What is our mindset about the future  – are we creating this story in hope or in despair?

quote by robert breaault

Source: Quote Fancy

 Remembering Nelson Mandela, we remind ourselves that:

nelson mandela quote

Reflecting Back

Thinking of our previous blogs on scenarios for South Africa, we are reminded of three possible futures[1]:


Mandela Magic: A story of a country with a clear economic and developmental vision, which it pursues across all sectors of society in the face of stiff competition and high barriers to success.

Bafana Bafana: A story of a perennial underachiever, always playing in the second league when the potential for international championship success and flashes of brilliance are evident for all to see.

A Nation Divided:  A story of a South Africa that steadily gathers speed downhill as factional politics and policy zigzagging open the door to populist policies.

These scenarios may have been turned upside down with COVID-19 exploding all over the world!

COVID-19 virus

Source: MIT: Reopening Too Soon Could Cause “Explosion” of Coronavirus

Disruptive Change

Our understanding of disruptive change was rudely enhanced by our first-hand experience of the mother of all disruptions. Being on the receiving end of disruption is a big shock to most.

It may appear that COVID-19 will chew us up and spit us out. That sounds like a bad thing, right? But some things are better when crushed and transformed. Like coffee beans. Hard and bitter in their original format, but delightfully addictive when roasted, ground up and brewed in hot water.

meme about coffee

Doe Zantamata – Home

Considering that coffee is something that is so much better when roasted, crushed, and boiled, they are not fragile.  In fact, for coffee to become the best it can possibly be, it needs some pretty rough treatment – it can only become something special if it is exposed to adverse circumstances which enables it to reach its full potential. So, if coffee beans are not fragile, what are they then?

fragile and robust

Coffee beans are antifragile. And antifragile is what we need right now. It is more than robustness – it does not only withstand shock, it benefits from it. In his book, “ Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder”, Nassim Taleb defines antifragile as follows:


Is Africa Antifragile?

Thinking about Africa, the big question is whether Africa is antifragile? Will COVID-19 be what spurs Africa on to realise its full potential?  In his latest book, “Africa First. Igniting a Growth Revolution”, the Africa analyst, Jakkie Cilliers[3] contemplates the question: “What prevents Africa, with its bountiful natural resources, from translating that potential into prosperity?”

Through 11 scenarios he shows how the African continent can ignite a growth revolution that will change the lives of millions who were experiencing poverty and into employment. The book identifies key levers for sparking the growth revolution.

These are opportunities that technology offers to leapfrog into the future, fundamental transitions needed in agriculture, education, demographics, manufacturing, and governance. Considering the projected devastating impact of COVID-19 on poverty and unemployment, this roadmap for how Africa can “capitalise on its boundless potential” to “catch up with the rest of the world” could be worth considering.

The way in which we respond to the challenges posed during and after COVID-19 will determine if we choose to create our future via a path of despair or via a path of hope. Now, more than ever, it is in our hands, as Africans, to create the world we want to live in.

quote about fragility

Source: Quotefancy

By Fia van Rensburg

[1] South African Futures 2035, South Africa in ‘sweet spot’ for growth, South African Futures 2030: How Bafana Bafana Made Mandela Magic by Jakkie Cilliers

[2] Antifragility Definition

[3] Three possible futures for South Africa | Jakkie Cilliers | TEDxJohannesburg

[4] Africa First! Igniting a Growth Revolution