|   Let integrity lead.

Letter: Covid, Climate and Community

What a wonderful year this has been!

We wonder why, when solutions are at hand, we allow global heating to run rampant, fail to change our behavior in the face of the pandemic and tribalise into fractured communities when we know now more than ever, that issues of race, tribe and creed are social constructs that artificially divide.

And this is just the global position. In SA we can add failure to limit the moral and financial corruption that has left municipalities bankrupt and in darkness. The reverse of the old slogan “Think global, act local” is firmly in play. With more than half our population un- or underemployed we face a psychosocial and humanitarian crisis with all the attention of frogs in slowly warming water.

Even with all this there are silver linings everywhere.

*The global production and delivery of vaccines based on shared science, at scale and at speed is unprecedented. (Even though Pfizer and co. might have behaved badly).

*CoP 26 actually happened. We now know more about the damage to the ecosystems – not simply by CO2 – we are part of than ever before. The limiting fact that fossil fuel companies had more representatives present than Africa combined, remains intriguing

*Victorian Europe (though it did not exist as an identity then) obsessively measured the world leaving many very damaging global tropes in place: race, hierarchies of power, the maps we know by. Much of this challenged by more research during the last decades. More and more these are being challenged in popular consciousness opening the space for rethinking our world. Read The dawn of everything by Graeber and Wengrow and Born in Blackness by Howard French. Our Class 12 spent a lot of energy on the consequences and experience of racism in SA and is now reading The lies that bind by Kwame Appiah for discussion in March.

From time to time we need to remind ourselves just what it is that ALI sets out to do.

We take people already in positions of power and influence, add to their understanding of themselves and the world’s institutions, then network them across sectors and geographies.  This improves their understanding of our society’s complexity and the value of diversity, enabling them to more effectively engage with the institutional turbulence we face on the continent and in the world. Then improve on it all.

One could argue convincingly that ALI Fellows are amongst those uniquely qualified, networked and resourced to impact positively and practically on the world we are busy reshaping. Class 12 is active, Class 13 selected and raring to go. Class 14 needs two million rand to launch – any offers?

This last year has left many things to ponder as we recharge for the next. In no order of importance and amongst many others:

  1. The July insurrection
  2. Triage is complete. The patient faces a crisis. Let us perform the surgery.
  3. Too few and too junior miscreants in jail.
  4. The consulting and auditing world. Bain and KPMG. Our Auditor General office was one of two out of 118 assessed globally to achieve a perfect score when by the World Bank. Tsakani, keep up the good work.
  5. An ex-President went to jail (however briefly)
  6. The moral degradation of the powerful involved in the procurement of PPE’s has to be measured against the incredible successes of the Solidarity Fund, various NGO’s and individuals without whom we would have been in a deeper cesspool.

During next year, in each of our 10 newsletters we will showcase an intervention involving at least one of our Fellows. These are the silver  linings that bring hope that a much more equitable is possible. Our Fellows interventions in energy, governance, education, agriculture, climate, business,  government and the psycho-social are heartening. The first step in connecting these to the power to act at scale is spreading the word.

We will do so.

Have a wonderful holiday and all the best for 2022!

Thanks to our valued partners and to all the Fellows who continue to contribute in many ways.

  • Aspen Global Leadership Network
  • Yellowwoods
  • Barloworld
  • Tshikululu