The Year of the Horse

When I started work on a professional website with a personal touch in 2014, it was one of many significant steps I knew needed to be taken to pull myself out of what felt at the time like a self-defeating trajectory of seeking ‘formal employment’ in ‘traditional contexts’ while doubting that there was any specific job that would benefit from and put my particular work experiences to good use.  I realise with hindsight that this website showcases work that is testimony to two indisputable characteristics about the way I work. Mostly I need to fly solo in the thinking through and execution of a project. That is simply how I work best. I march to the tune of a very particular drummer. And, I thrive when I can trust a supportive and constructively critical guiding presence overseeing the overall project. I have sometimes been able to work effectively with a ‘right hand’ – most notably Botlhale Nong, Vanessa Maren, Stephanie Bosch Santana and Rita Rai and amongst their many wonderful talents was a shared ability to build on and expand the steps we determined would lead to the realization of the dream.

As soon as my website went live in June, I was asked to help out on a part time basis to convene a conference that would inspire donor organisations to reconsider the myriad struggles people in Higher Education Institutions confront to actualize ‘transformation’ in SA. This was my second break (the first being with Common Purpose in 2013) and I imagined that more consultancy work would now start to flow in and I would re-establish Beulah Thumbadoo & Associates in the Western Cape and flourish as I had in Johannesburg.

I did not expect to be approached to consider the role of Project Manager of Education Innovations – the Southern African hub of the Centre for Education Innovations situated at the Bertha Centre in August and even though I went through the motions in earnest, I was caught off guard to be offered the position. My gut reaction was not to jump ship on the social justice philanthropy symposium but to attempt to do both pieces of work if I was allowed.  And I was.

This is one explanation for why I never returned to my website to write another blog or update the songs or virtues pages, or say anything on FB or in short why I have fallen off the radar for a while. I have been galloping like the Horse that 2014 was with no time to tell the tale and just as I had made peace with two completely different jobs on two different campuses of UCT reporting to two different ‘bosses’, one of them decided the Year of the Horse needed to throw up an extra thrill as it approached the finishing line. Very much like when you’ve accepted that the race will be won by either of two contenders only to see the third which you might have had on your radar for future bets, pulling in from the rear to reduce the others to highly respectful runners up.

I hope this captures something of how I have come to feel about being appointed Philippi Animator – (Animateur in French – to give shape or life to) within the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It reminds me of a piece of advice Ashoka Fellow Charles Maisel once offered me when he described his fascination and satisfaction with being a surfer. It’s not any wave that will get you the ride you’re looking for; it’s the right one.  And this one might be right for me for some of the reasons already captured a year ago on this site.

So this is a long overdue check in to explain my absence. I hope to write more frequently this year but I wanted visitors to this website to know that for now my hands are full and I am certain that the skills I pick up working to establish a Campus of the University of Cape Town in Philippi will be invaluable to the work I undertake in the future.