Category Archives: Politics

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

RELATED EPISODES

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

Visit me at: bobbyjagdev.com

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7. The Times They Are a-Changin’ with John Wallace

In this episode, I unwrap the employee experience with my guest and good friend John Wallace. John and I have worked closely together for several years on global HR change initiatives. Right now, we are both navigating the same commercial challenges of our ever-changing present whilst also attempting to define our future trajectory.

John is a native of – and still resides – in Cardiff, South Wales. A prominent and influential HR leader who has been at the forefront of people transformation programmes in aerospace, steel, telecoms, public sector services and beyond. 

We start John’s story in the depths of the 1980s. During the UK’s most challenging people management crisis of the 20th century. A period that saw the decline of steel and coal mining industries and the knock-on – people and political – impact that tore through South Wales at a velocity not dissimilar to the pandemic. 

It’s leaders like John, with authenticity and pragmatic governance that can balance the scales between external disruption and positive change. Vision is the ability to put the employee experience at the forefront of decision making.

Employee experience is the theme of this conversation.

We explore the impact of automation, artificial intelligence and when infused with John’s candid personality our conversation paints a picture of a future Britain that may not be too dissimilar to the ghost towns of the 1980s.

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE?

  • How technology should augment the workforce and not just be a vehicle for downsizing
  • How authenticity is the cornerstone to a good employee experience and the downstream impact on the customer experience
  • How the socioeconomic impact of artificial intelligence is already written in the history books; we can learn a great deal from previous industrial revolutions
  • Why organisations haven’t kept up with the velocity of technological change and how this has adversely impacted people management
  • Why conformance and performance are the two key factors to good corporate governance
  • How organisational values often fail to translate to the employee experience and how this can create a subculture of departmental value silo’s
  • How words written – in the 1980’s – by UB40 and The Specials, relate to this eerie snapshot of our present socioeconomic status

QUOTES

“Sometimes things might not do you any good but might not do you any harm. Being involved and trying is a worthwhile enterprise within itself.“ – John

“When it comes to the cold hard economics of change, who’s going to blink first?” – John

“Every employee is an advocate, but they may not be an advocate of what you want them to be.” – John

“Organisations want to exploit technology without a single thought for the employee experience – apart from… we just need fewer of them.” – John

“Don’t defend the indefensible…” – John

RESOURCES

LinkedIn Profile: John Wallace
Blog Post: The “New Normal”?
Blog Post: Employees Are Customers Too
Ted Talk: Daniel Sussking on the 3 Myths About the Future of Work and Why They Are Not True
Web Link: Lattitude Global Volunteering

RELATED EPISODES

Episode #5: The Sustainable Enterprise with Mike Mcilroy

EBOOK RELEASE

My next eBook is scheduled for release on 1st Dec 2020. PRE-ORDER your FREE copy of the Top 5 Cloud Migration Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.

All of my eBooks are available at bobbyjagdev.com/ebooks

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

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FEEDBACK AND FOLLOW

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

5. The Sustainable Enterprise with Mike Mcilroy

In this episode, my guest Mike Mcilory takes you on a journey from 1970’s Liverpool to the modern world at this present time. Mike spent his formative years growing up in the recession-hit city of Liverpool. We explore how his environment in the 70’s not only shaped Mike but became the underpinning principles to why he co-founded Liberas Solutions.

Mike’s team are now using their experience in the field of ERP to help organisations forecast, execute and monitor their net-zero carbon emission targets. Carbon accounting is a digital process that will enable organisations to become socially responsible. 

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE?

  • Why the sustainable enterprise that focuses on people and planet will win in this new economy
  • How the combination of people, fear and vulnerability can catalyse positive economic and climatic change
  • The value of associates and your responsibility towards your professional network, your friends and your neighbours
  • How organisations and competitors are working together to reduce their carbon footprint
  • How young people and not government or business are influencing change to attitudes in the market
  • How we can sustain this velocity of environmental change, which has been accelerated by the pandemic
  • How carbon net-zero will drive a global contracting workforce and the benefits

QUOTES

“This pandemic feels like a reset, a greater power has turned the world on its side, found the factory reset button and stuck a pin in it.” – Mike

“Countries such as India have been recycling for centuries, out of necessity. Setting a standard that the globe has largely been ignoring.” – Bobby

“Young people have a better idea when it comes to politics, they are not cynical like us old hacks!” – Mike

“If you do argue around climate change you look a little bit deranged, you look like the crank now.” – Mike

“Our ways of working have to change, we have tactically changed how we work, but not the way in which we work.” – Bobby

RESOURCES

LinkedIn Profile: Mike Mcilroy
Blog Post: The Value of Sustainability to Your Enterprise
Blog Post: Corporate Social Responsibility – Buzzwords or Strategic Value
Web Link: Transform to Net Zero
Web Link: Emitwise
Web Link: Vodafone’s sustainability story
Web Link: 500 plus B Corps Commit to Net Zero by 2030

EBOOK RELEASE

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to PRE-ORDER a FREE copy of my new eBook Top 5 Contracting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.

My eBook is scheduled for release on 1st Sept 2020. All PRE-ORDER’S before this date will receive a series of BONUS material, where I will share two decades of hard learnt contract negotiation techniques and strategy.

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.

Mastery of craft

We rarely, if ever – use the term “craft” to reference any form of discipline in the field of IT. 

The term is largely associated with a carpenter, an artist, a musician or even a brewer of fine ales. By defintion – a craft is a skill mastered by creating something by hand, obtained by a high degree of both practical and theoretical knowledge of a trade.

As professionals – technology or otherwise, from senior leadership to programmers, aren’t we inevitably trying to master our own craft? 

Bobby at 7

I started my craft at the age of 7. Seriously – I did! 

Programming BASIC on a Commodore Vic-20, all 8 bits and 1Mhz of compute. I suspect my parents’ motivations at that time, were the games to keep me entertained with their high bitrate graphics. But the real magic was buried inside the user manual.

Chapter 7 to be precise – “Introduction to Programming”.

At the time, I don’t think my parents fully appreciated the magnitude of their investment. I suspect not many parents did.

I had no clue what I was really doing, what the syntax meant or even what a program was. But it was the fact that I, with my own hands crafted syntax, which made the computer come alive and respond to my commands. I influenced and created an outcome.

Naturally, this fascination only grew, and it wasn’t long before I was upgraded to the breadbin Commodore-C64. An extra 59KB of RAM to support my coding endeavours.

Though I must admit, 10 PRINT “HELLO WORLD” didn’t demand much compute.

Bobby the elder

We don’t always need an arena to master or nurture our craft. When we don’t have that – we have training courses, books, webinars and personal coding projects. But there is one crucial component that influences our ability to execute and deploy our craft. The 7-year-old me or even the 21-year-old me, fresh out of university, would never have appreciated its influence… the art of workplace politics.

When black and white becomes grey

There is an irony here. Coding is about logic, a 1 or 0. Children see things in black and white, right or wrong – clear as day. But the world of business is far from logical, it’s quite the opposite, it can be very grey.

Our success in the workplace can be largely driven by our ability to navigate the political spectrum. As with all youngsters, I was idealistic and for years I fought what at times felt illogical. However once I learnt to accept this and nurtured it alongside my craft, this opened up a wealth of opportunity.

Politics, is not something you can learn in books or be taught on a training course. Many people, just like I did – could never really contemplate how influential this skill is in the mastery of our craft. Some may argue that it’s on the periphery, but as I said, for me it’s integral.

Politics in the workplace is seldomly viewed as a positive vehicle. This is largely down to motives. But if the intentions are good – to drive a successful outcome for an activity or a project – then mastering the art of politics; is an immensely powerful tool.

An outcome of a project or your credibility can be highly dependent, on not only how well you respond to political moves but how you shape your own field of play.

Interestingly, it’s the one aspect of our craft that is ancient in its origin. The advent of agriculture in 7000-8000 BC saw human societies transition into tribal forms of organisation. Politics went beyond survival; it provided a framework for the growth of humankind. Enabling tribes to work together to compromise, negotiate and make decisions. 

This extends into every aspect of our lives; 

  • At some point, our children stop listening to us and we soon learn how to navigate that political spectrum. We provide them with tools, means and support to empower them. Hoping they will making their own informed decisions and learn from their mistakes. 
  • In the workplace, we may have the answer to a problem. But sometimes people aren’t receptive to our answers, so we lead, steer and provide insight to enable them to carve out the right answer. 

There is a fine line between teamwork and politics. Sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish. However, in both examples, managing personality conflicts and personal agendas can not only provide a better-quality outcome but is more likely to promote ownership. For which it’s ownership that drives real change.

In contrast, it’s also true that underlying political motives can also drive a sub-optimal output.

If I could go back in time

Look at your job or role through the lens of mastering a craft. Being the best at what you do, mastering the practical and educating yourself on the theoretical. All the traditional aspects of growth – be that climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder, or the size of your remuneration package would naturally come together themselves.

If I could go back in time, and advise 7-year-old Bobby on anything – it would be…

Master your craft, for which you don’t need to be gifted or talented. Pay attention to the process and invest time in improvement. Small gains every day have a compound impact – just like interest on a savings account. If you invest in experiences that in themselves can pay dividends. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s ok to deviate off your path to explore new avenues – no experience is ever wasted. 

In the next episode of my podcast I let you into a secret, something not many people know about me. For the last 20 years I looked upon a particular experience as a lost year. But when viewed through a lens that is now transforming my life, it’s enabled me to create something new.

I suspect many of you in the field of technology have a similar story. When that first computer landed on your desk or dinner table – all those parents would never have imagined the influence of that moment. Is this unique to technology?

How many other professionals were given the tools to start mastering their craft from an early age?

A writer inspired by a book; a painter inspired by their crayons…

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