Category Archives: Culture

15. The Invalidation of Experience with Candice Mama

Candice Mama knows how to make an entrance. 

A humanitarian. An author. And an ambassador for post-conflict reconciliation.

Featured in Vogue Magazine and recognised by the African Union as one of the top inspiring women of our present. And a former face of Mac Cosmetics South Africa.

Candice’s personal story of forgiveness and transformation has become a beacon in supporting post-conflict societies. Her story was featured as one of the 75 stories for the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.

The first guest on her podcast – Coffee with Candice – was the Granddaughter of the late Nelson Mandela. 

Now that is indeed how you make an entrance…

Reconciliation is a theme that resonates with many black and white South Africans. Candice’s association with the emotional impact of Apartheid had proximity to a significant and traumatic event. 

Candice’s father; Glenack Masilo Mama, was a political activist. A revolutionary who was assassinated by the infamous Eugene De Kock. Eugene led the paramilitary hit squad known as The Vlakpaas

Eugene orchestrated and executed the systematic termination of political activists with a brutal and undignified virulence.

The aftermath of not only losing her father but coming to terms with how her father was murdered directed Candice into a depressive cycle. The mental loops constructed by resentment, anger and loss had a consequential mental and physical impact. One that she has now overcome by sharing her story.

This is a conversation about the invalidation of experience and a window into the life of South Africa’s post-apartheid generation. It also highlights the impact on an individual whose paternal bond was mercilessly disrupted. When forces of political oppression have inaccurately narrated a history this can induce a form of racial and social gaslighting. School texts today still represent an alternate history. One that didn’t happen.

Candice reminds us; the further you are removed from an incident, the more diluted it becomes. That the system of Apartheid wasn’t designed for black people to win. It was designed for them to fail. However both ‘black and white’ are victims of the socioeconomic impact of oppression and indoctrination.

Vengeance – as an output of war – destroys the inner sanctum of our soul. When we embrace the ability to forgive those for the pain and trauma they have inflicted. We unlock ourselves from what can be a devastating mental incarceration. 

In 2019 Candice published her version of her story in Forgiveness Refined. An immersive memoir of her childhood experiences that culminate at the moment she met and hugged her fathers’ assassin. A hug being the most visceral of human connections. Such an embrace is an awe-inspiring symbol of forgiveness. 

A modality of forgiveness that Candice has truly redefined.

Candice chose the narrative under which she documented her history. And reminds us that we all encompass the ability to change our story. 

Such a joy to welcome a new friend to the podcast. One whose energy for life, love and appreciation embodies a gravitating force. One you will find difficult to break away from.

Warning: This episode contains explicit language and themes that some listeners may find distressing.

RESOURCES

Candice Mama: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bookography
Book: Forgiveness Redefined
BBC News: I hugged the man who murdered my father
BBC News Archive: Apartheid in South Africa
Book: Heart of Darkness
News24: I used to love Steve Hofmeyr then I found out he was a racist
BBC News: Julius Malema
The Guardian: The odd couple: Why an Apartheid activist joined forces with a murderer
Podcast: Coffee with Candice
Podcast Episode: Ndileka Mandela: More Than The Legacy of Nelson Mandel‪a

RELATED EPISODES

Episode #10: Correcting Reality with Craig Stanlan‪d‬
Episode #14: On Writing, Friendship and The Mangrove with Farrukh Dhond‪y‬

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14. On Writing, Friendship and The Mangrove with Farrukh Dhondy

An iconic writer, author and political activist. A friend to literary figures that have influenced civil rights movements and world leaders. An integral spoke in a wheel of influence – Farrukh Dhondy

Farrukh’s career achievements are self-evident. A diverse body of work that spans decades to a rich set of acquaintances that he holds so dear.

After graduating in Natural Sciences at Cambridge he was presented with a moral dilemma. A default career path would have directed him towards India’s atomic weapons programme. However, this wasn’t aligned with his developing political inclinations and ideologies.

Farrukh course-corrected and found direction in writing. This change in career trajectory came at an inflexion point in the history of the UK civil rights movement. Farrukh was well-positioned, well-educated and ready to nurture a craft that could help balance the scales of social injustice.

His timing – like everything in his life – had him at the right place, at the right time, with the right skills and with the right people.

Farrukh reported on the trial of The Mangrove 9. This watershed moment in the UK civil rights movement thrust institutional police racism into the limelight. Farrukh alongside the Mangrove 9 defendants went on to form the UK Black Panther movement. 

Farrukh is often engaged in consultation for major TV and film productions. Guerrilla – by John Ridley – and the recently aired BBC series Small Axe – by Steve McQueen. Both have Farrukh’s fingerprints all over them. Stories, historical insight and characters that are integral to these productions were sourced from Farrukh’s own experience as a founder member of the panthers.

This movement would introduce Farrukh to formidable characters such as Darcus Howe, CLR James, Barbara Beese, Althea Jones and the Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipul.

Farrukh’s activism and writing would eventually diverge into the realm of theatre and TV. The Black Theatre Co-Operative was a gateway into creative roles as editor and writer for Channel 4, the BBC and numerous independent productions. Whilst at the same time crafting an immense body of literary works.

This conversation navigates Farrukh’s career via a collection of stories based around friendship. He shares intimate conversations about – his house guest – CLR James and his encounter with Trotsky. Memories of his friendship with Darcus Howe. And the influence of Althea Jones and Mala Sen – his first wife and author of the book that became the Bandit Queen.

  • Mangrove 9 Trial - Newspaper Clipping

We also explore how a turbulent set of encounters with the Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipul turned into a lifelong, close personal friendship. And how he was the only reporter in the room when The Beatles met the Maharishi in 1967. Oh Farrukh also hangs around with Pink Floyd at some point during the conversation too.

For me, this a personal interest story. In 1952, my grandfather emigrated to the UK from Punjab, India. I never paid attention to his stories about fermenting racism. And the labour movement that was pivotal in shaping immigrant rights. I didn’t have the insight or inclination to ask questions. Now, I wish I had.

New years eve of 2020 – when this dialogue took place – was my opportunity, to start to appreciate the political atmosphere. To understand the actors who were the architects that shaped my life of privilege. For which I now appreciate the debt of gratitude I hold towards the activists and socialists that rose against systematic oppression.

This is a conversation about social justice, friendship, nurturing relationships and being present in the moment. Upon reflection, I later realised that Farrukh doesn’t care much for legacy. We are often consumed in strategising to create a legacy as opposed to being present in what we do. But Farrukh reminds us that we simply get on with life. Embrace moments and be present in those moments. Support those around us and give our time and attention to others. 

I was in complete adoration of Farrukh’s achievement. A man of incredible accomplishment. Farrukh made me reflect on my own relationships and the purposefulness of my own body of work.

I do this to improve myself. To learn, to widen my lens and hope somewhere a message or conversation has some sort of social or personal impact. To me, that is Farrukh Dhondy. Truly an honour and privilege to have spent time with a legend. A moment in my life that I will truly treasure and a newfound friendship that I hope to nurture.

A special thanks to Naina Redhu for contributing to the artwork for this episode. A hyper-talented photographer and artist out of Gurgaon – India. Link to Naina’s various social media profiles in the links below.

Warning: This episode contains explicit language.

QUOTES

I was a peacemaker, a communist and whatnot, so I told them I don’t want to help make Indira’s Atomic bomb. – Farrukh

Scientific exploration is the way forward for humanity.” – Farrukh

The kind of poverty I grew up around, convinced me that there was a connection between irrationality, superstition, even religion and that degradation of humanity” – Farrukh

The poverty was crushing, you saw people starving in the street.” – Farrukh

The audience for multi-cultural writing exists, but multi-cultural writing doesn’t exist.” – Farrukh on meeting his first publisher.

I don’t like that Dhondy fellow, he doesn’t believe in anything.” – Farrukh on V. S. Naipul’s first impression of him.

Things are not just relative and subjective. There is an objective truth. There is an objective way of looking at books and poems. I believed all that.” – Farrukh

CLR James used to say that America is a country closest to communism. Which is a very strange thing to say. But the democratic qualities of America will eventually lead to some form of equality.” – Farrukh

Darcus was full of insight into a situation. He could gauge an audience and address their concerns without resorting to what he read or cliché. He could address an audience exactly how they wanted to be addressed. It was a great gift. Some of it was rabble-rousing, but with a tight harness.” – Farrukh

“I learnt more about India’s economic policy by looking at an auto-rickshaw. More than anything I could read in a book.” – Farrukh quoting Darcus’s observation on the economic governmental monopolies of India.

RESOURCES

Farrukh Dhondy: LinkedIn | Bookography
Naina Redhu: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube | Facebook
New York Times: Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.
New Yorker The Shattering Double Vision of V. S. Naipaul
NPR: Remembering Nobel Laureate And Author V.S. Naipaul
The Guardian: 12 Years a Slave: the book behind the film
The Guardian: Landmarks in law: when the Mangrove Nine beat the British state
BBC: The Mangrove Nine – BBC Feature
Prospect Magazine: For all his flaws, VS Naipaul was a pioneering genius
New York Times: Obama, the Best-Selling Author, on Reading, Writing and Radical Empathy
The Guardian: Leila Hassan Howe: ‘My life was made hell. You’d just hear a tirade against immigrants
Royal Gazette: The New Cross Fire (January 18, 1981)
New Yorker: The Strangeness of Grief – Augustus the Cat
New Republic: V.S. Naipaul on the Arab Spring, Authors He Loathes, and the Books He Will Never Write
Brixton Blog: Brixton figures in BBC Black history course
Refinery29: The Untold Story Of The Women Who Led Britain’s Black Panther Movement
Our Migration Story: Communities in action: the Indian Workers’ Association
Rolling Stone: ‘It’s About a Certain Kind of Blackness’: Steve McQueen on the Making of ‘Small Axe’
BFI: “These are the untold stories that make up our nation”: Steve McQueen on Small Axe
Bustle: Where Are The Mangrove 9 Now?
Stylist: Remembering Altheia Jones-LeCointe, the UK’s forgotten civil rights activist
Vulture: Guerrilla’s Critics Say John Ridley’s New Show Erases Black Women Activists
Indie Wire: ‘Guerrilla’ Review: John Ridley’s ’70s London Black Power Drama Tries to Show All Sides of a Revolution
Open Culture: V. S. Naipul on Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List
Beatles Bible: The Beatles meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Unfinished Histories: The Black Theatre Co-Operative
Left Voice: C.L.R. James and Leon Trotsky: A Negro Organization
BlackHistoryMonth.Org: West Indies Federation
British Library: Intelligence report on the Indian Workers’ Association
Warwick University – Research Paper: Towards a History of the Indian Workers’ Association
Edinburgh University Research Explorer: The Ethnic Roots of Class Universalism
Nobel Prize: The Nobel Prize in Literature 2001 – V. S. Naipul
Andrew Whittuck: Pink Floyd Photograph Portfolio
Film: Bandit Queen
YouTube: Mala Sen speaks about her book Bandit Queen
TV Series: Small Axe on BBC One
TV Series: No Problem
TV Series: Tandoori Nights
TV Series: King of the Ghetto
Book: Darcus Howe: A Political Biography
Book: East End At Your Feet by Farrukh Dhondy
Book: India: A Million Mutinies Now by V. S. Naipul
Book: India’s Bandit Queen
Bookography: V. S. Naipul
Bookography: Sukhwant Singh
Bookography: CLR James

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Episode #5: The Sustainable Enterprise with Mike Mcilroy

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

The best way to support the podcast is to share this episode and have this conversation.

I also have an affiliate programme with organisations that I either work closely with or I’m aligned to their mission. For a complete list of my partners, affiliates and even any discount codes, please visit my partners page at bobbyjagdev.com/partners

CHECK IN WITH BOBBY

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13. Sparking Connection Through Storytelling with Marsha Shandur

When we are attracted to those who are successful or inspire us. It’s their innate ability to tell a story. That’s the attribute that charms us and creates a spark.

A spark is likely to catalyse a physical or emotional connection. And it’s from this connection that the storyteller can truly showcase their message, their brand and their goal.

This is a conversation on how we best illuminate ourselves in the presence of others. From making new friends or business acquaintances, to delivering a sales pitch, performing at a job interview or speaking at a keynote. We are somehow telling a story in every aspects of our lives. As children, we even learn through stories.

A well-told story illuminates not only the message but the qualities of the storyteller. Tangential stories have this immense ability in drawing connection. Sharing a random thing that happened at the coffee shop in the morning, to the DIY disaster that happened over the weekend. We open ourselves up to being vulnerable. This drives an innately human attraction. From which, relationships and trust are established.

Vulnerability is currency. And is the opening gambit to my conversation with Marsha Shandur. We begin today’s conversation by asking each other to introduce ourselves. As expected, we fumbled. Our anxiety over such a simple question got the best of us. It not only provides a comical opener to what was an immensely fun conversation but also provides a foundation for shaping an entertaining and value-filled dialogue.

Marsha Shandur is a storytelling coach. In her own words, she helps people fall into platonic business love with you. Marsha’s past-life covers a diversity of accolades. From being a DJ on Xfm to producing the music for – the E4 hit show – The Inbetweeners and Made in Chelsea! She also co-authored the book Off The Mic: The World’s Best Stand Up Comedians Get Serious About Comedy.

As a coach, she empowers her clients to tell their stories. But it’s not necessarily about the story. It’s all in the delivery. This is where Marsha shines. 

In 2012 Marsha was scheduled to run the New York City Marathon. Hurricane Sandy was forecast. The NYC marathon was cancelled. But after months of preparation, Marsha wasn’t quite ready to abandon the run. So she embarked on an unplanned solo marathon around London.

Aptly named the Marshathon!

This was an impromptu event. Marsha tied the laces on her running shoes and headed out for her solo marathon. There was no thought around the physical logistics. The media coverage or charity fundraising. It’s amazing what one can achieve once you’ve not only committed but started the race. Planning and executing in real-time.

It was this story that sparked a connection between myself and Marsha. How Marsha and I connected is a prime example of how stories can influence. A well-told story ignites a spark. It catalyses a chain reaction of events that not only connect people but can also leave a lasting impact. 

This conversation covers just as much terrain as Marsha’s run across London. We share anecdotal stories that have us in fits of laughter. The energy in this conversation is all-consuming. Marsha is the embodiment of her message. An immensely fun individual – with not only a wealth of diverse experience – but with a gift to captivate an audience. One which Marsha is keen to share. 

Marsha reminds us of how every aspect of our existence is underpinned by storytelling. An insight into her Russian heritage provides a lens that allow us to explore how stories shape cultural identities. Historically stories have not only provided a means of passing down information – thus preserving an identity – but also shaping the style of a narrative.

We have limited bandwidth from which we can experience the world. We live through stories and we allow others to live through ours.

That’s the real spark of human attraction.

QUOTES

When we tell stories, we show people who we are. Emotion is the most important part in telling a story. – Marsha

We crave belonging more than anything else. Even more than happiness.” – Marsha

Often we don’t apologise, because we feel so much shame around admitting we are wrong.” – Marsha

Everybody has my trust from the outset. You don’t have to earn it. You just have to maintain it.” – Bobby

I’m gonna hate you first. And if you judge me and find me not good enough. It doesn’t matter, because I already hate you.” – Marsha

That’s the thing about vulnerability. Feeling vulnerable; if you can be cynical and judgy about everyone else. It’s like an armour between you and them.” – Marsha

If I ask a really good question, and somebody responds with – Bobby that’s a really good question – my mind goes into self-congratulatory mode and I stop listening to the answer.” – Bobby

RESOURCES

Be sure to check out Marsha’s Secret Web Page for a whole raft of resources referenced in this conversation. Supplementary links to other resources, and how to follow or connect with Marsha are below.

Marsha Shandur: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube | Email
Secret Web Page: Bobby’s Secret Web Page of Resources
News Article: Woman Completes London Marathon Solo Run
Website: World Domination Summit in Portland
Video Talk: The Anatomy of Trust by Brene Brown
Book: Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown

RELATED EPISODES

Episode #11: Deconstructing a Difficult Conversation with Nicole Posner

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

The best way to support the podcast is to share this episode and have this conversation.

I also have an affiliate programme with organisations that I either work closely with or I’m aligned to their mission. For a complete list of my partners, affiliates and even any discount codes, please visit my partners page at bobbyjagdev.com/partners

CHECK IN WITH BOBBY

Visit me at: bobbyjagdev.com

Follow me on social media: LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

JOIN MY MAILING LIST

Sign up to my mailing list and receive detailed show notes, the latest episodes and new articles direct to your inbox.

FEEDBACK AND FOLLOW

Thanks so much for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and rate and review on your favourite podcasting platform.

12. Bravery in the Face of Ethical Uncertainty with Olivia Gambelin

The human condition is a complex and unpredictable amalgamation of multiple intelligence characteristics. 

Our ability to make effective decisions requires us to make linguistic, spatial, emotional and ethical judgements. Artificial Intelligence doesn’t yet cover everything we perceive to be intelligence. 

Computer-based data models, assumptions, algorithms and even ethical frameworks are provided by humans. Containing the same intentional and unintentional bias as their creators.

Humanity is accelerating into an age of AI. Increasing our dependency on decision-making machines across the entire spectrum of societal functions, from science to education. Social media on the other hand is indirectly influencing our personal decision-making process. From shaping our political views to the people we like, to the products/services we buy.

How suitable are ethical models in governing platforms, code and architectures to ensure we maintain societal balance?

AI is changing the shape of society. A society made up of a multiverse of cultures. All with their own distinct moral codes and ethical constructs. So how do we apply ethical models to technology when one size surely can’t fit all?

Living in Europe, with so many languages and cultures on my doorstep and an ancestral connection to the Indian subcontinent. I’ve always been fascinated by the construct of culture, from languages to traditions to ethics. In light of our digital acceleration, my curiosity for how we apply ethics to technology whilst maintaining cultural balance is also accelerating.

So, I enlisted the support of Olivia Gambelin – an AI ethicist – to widen the aperture of my lens and qualify what I did or didn’t understand. Olivia is the founder of Ethical Intelligence.

When I first reached out to Olivia, what I didn’t quite expect was this shared passion for the construct of culture. Especially when viewed through the lens of AI and ethics.

I instantly knew we could shape a truly unique conversation. 

In doing so we start today’s conversation by unpacking Olivia’s Italian-American heritage. We travel through conversation to an Agriturismo in Tuscany. Olivia’s love for Italy and her memories of her Nonno are truly wonderful to listen to. 

Olivia’s story around the Agriturismo isn’t just the opener to our conversation but provides a real insight into her persona. One centred around embracing the fear of the unknown but immersing herself with absolute focus. To do so requires bravery. In a field dominated by the male humanoid, a female mindset – one who speaks about culture with such honesty and adoration – is crucial in influencing the ethical models desperately needed to minimise the disruption on society.

Culture is the bedrock of this conversation. It creates a foundation based around linguistics and language that sets up a deep-dive into the different types of ethical models. Culture also provides us with a lens to help define the relationship between the terms philosophymorals and ethics.

There are various touchpoints to the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma and recent events such as the UK exam fiasco and even personality assessments that provide much-needed context to a complex topic of conversation.

We close the conversation by pondering self-aware fictional characters and robot rights. Olivia’s insight will surely provoke your thoughts in this space. 

I felt honoured to have shared this conversational experience with Olivia. She talks openly about her heritage and the challenges of shaping the role of an AI ethicist. A role that is shaping our ethical landscape. From our social media feeds to machine driven decisions that are directly influencing the construct of our lives.

GLOSSARY

Deanthropomorphisation is the removal of a thing’s anthropomorphic nature; making something less human in form or character.

Deontological ethics is when an action is considered morally good because of some characteristic of the action itself, not because the product of the action is good. 

Consequentialism is results-based ethics. Of all the things a person might do at any given moment, the morally right action is the one with the best overall outcomes.

Virtue ethics deals with the honesty and morality of a person. It states that practising good habits such as honesty, generosity makes a moral and virtuous person. It guides a person without specific rules for resolving the ethical complexity.

QUOTES

How do we create a standard that is structured enough, but adaptable enough so it doesn’t clash with cultural values? – Olivia

Technology is a mirror of humanity back onto itself” – Olivia

I want to be the best version of those multiple versions of myself.“ – Bobby

All of those facets of myself are completely authentic. Different cultures allow me to highlight different aspects of myself. – Olivia

Culture is an output of different morals and different ethics.” – Bobby

We each have our own cultures. We live through those cultures. We have values through those cultures. It’s not a bad thing that there’s a bit of chaos there.” – Olivia

Computer-based personality assessments are people covering their backs on accountability. I didn’t hire this person because computer said no.” – Bobby

We need to embrace and approach technology with bravery.” – Olivia

RESOURCES

Website: Ethical Intelligence
Latest Training Workshop: The Equation
Website: Olivia Gambelin
LinkedIn Profile: Olivia Gambelin
Twitter: Olivia Gambelin
Article: Brave: what it means to be an AI Ethicist by Olivia Gambelin
Article: Everything that went wrong with the botched A-Levels algorithm
Research Paper: Robot Rights? Let’s Talk about Human Welfare Instead – Abeba Birhane and Jelle van Dijk
Book: Quality Land – Marc-Uwe Kling
Film: iRobot
Film: WALL-E
Documentary: The Social Dilemma on Netflix

RELATED EPISODES

Episode #9: Turning Ideas into Positive Impact with Mauro Cozzi

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

The best way to support the podcast is to share this episode and have this conversation.

I also have an affiliate programme with organisations that I either work closely with or I’m aligned to their mission. For a complete list of my partners, affiliates and even any discount codes, please visit my partners page at bobbyjagdev.com/partners

CHECK IN WITH BOBBY

Visit me at: bobbyjagdev.com

Follow me on social media: LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

JOIN MY MAILING LIST

Sign up to my mailing list and receive detailed show notes, the latest episodes and new articles direct to your inbox.

FEEDBACK AND FOLLOW

Thanks so much for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and rate and review on your favourite podcasting platform.