This afternoon, I think around 3 PM New York Time, Mark Drewell, an executive with Barlowworld from Johannesburg, is making a presentation at the Clinton Global Initiative/2006 Annual meeting. His topic is within the Bridging Differences in Embattled Societies stream. You might be able to listen to him live on the Internet. Mark was a friend and colleague in South Africa during the transformational process, and played a major role in Middelburg (with Middelburg Steel & Alloys) in dealing with a major conflict in the town involving the conservative Town Council and "radical" Comrades from the township. This was a signal event in the history of South Africa since it was probably the very first such "forum" that brought elements together across the apartheid divide. Several people had been killed in the township. Tension was high. There were threats of a general boycott in the town. There were rumours that the army would be called out. But something quite unique and unexpected happened.
I had worked with MS&A for several years, saturating the entire company with an understanding of value systems. The executive team was trained in the use of Value Engineering/Value Management processes. When the crisis hit, the young lads responded in a courageous, visionary, and caring fashion to move into the conflict, defuse it, establish a tradition of joint problem solving, and transformed the entire community out of a danger zone and into one of the first "integral" experiences. I did a full day workshop bringing together the "radical" Comrades and the South African Police in the same session at the same time. And that was unheard of during the heyday of apartheid. Conditions came together for an extraordinary success, even to the point that Desmond Tutu came by just to sit in on one of the sessions, and starting crying, saying: "I never in my life believed this sort of thing would happen in South Africa."
Nelson Mandela and other national leaders deserve all of the credit they have received for the transformation, but the real work was done at the coal face with people like Mark Drewell. And, the business sector was instrumental in the shifts yet, alas, has not received the acclaim they earned. I'm so pleased Mark received the invitation to speak at such an event and there many other South Africans who have a lot to say. One of our purposes will be to bring them into the present context around cultural integration and confluence since we appear to lack an understanding of models and processes that actually work. Those same Comrades, an one was named Doctor Selala because he had "stitched" several people ie cut their throats. He and his Comrade mates were also transformed by people like Mark and the steel company into a profit center where the company used the excess chrome from the production lines to make Pots for Africa...owned by the Comrades who became salesmen up into Africa, but supported by MS&A. The talk was translated into a positive walk.
You can watch the entire presentation, starting at 1:30 EDT, with Drewell scheduled to go on at around 3:05.