Mastering the Art of transforming Knowledge into
Action and Action into Compassionate Service
Friends, sisters and brothers of Africa, I greet you in the name of peace and goodwill. Distinguished guests, inspired Alumni ambassadors and our honorable hosts, I extend a warm welcome to a prestigious Networking Reception. Most importantly, let me thank the organisers of this event for creating a platform that calls us to introspect on the worth of our knowledge in relation to the needs of South Africa, of Africa and of the world.
It is my sincere hope the discourse we are having tonight, will inspire Greatness in all of us to become Change Makers, who participate not only in the preservation of humanity, but in what many mystics of all traditions believe to be the ultimate destiny of mankind, which is acknowledging we are all One.
Having displayed commitment, resilience, patience and a passion to serve by investing time, emotion, money and effort reading and researching, we indeed deserve the title ‘Masters’. Masters of achievement are those who plan and focus on every finer detail; they can see their desired outcome in their minds’ eye in perfect detail, long before they begin to take action, thus they are more likely to achieve their goals. If we do not have a cause GREATER than our immediate needs, we are likely to become challenged when rising beyond ourselves, so let us all be grateful we all live today because we have a cause and a Master plan. Remembering, those who fail to plan, plan to fail and those that take time to set out details of what it takes to realise their dreams are the ones destined to succeed.
We were blessed to have been given this wisdom by our beloved University, Stellenbosch, and WE ARE GREAT. Whilst this is a milestone achievement for us, it should however be a fresh start for millions of, discouraged, despondent and lonely South Africans. These are our fellow citizens who live in poverty, are unemployed, sick, fearful and angry. The structures of our society have for generations excluded millions of South Africans from platforms of self expression, self realization and an education that enables them to make a difference. So – eighteen years of freedom and democracy?
What is the Call of Time at this juncture?
Freedom of the psyche, freedom of the spirit and freedom of the mind; time calls for selfless service and unity. When we serve it is our own character that gets refined just like a carpenter chisels away wood to create a Masterpiece, we too chisel away all negative qualities and through acts of kindness, allow the Masterpiece, the Divine within to radiate Greatness.
Now is the time to transform the knowledge we have into action; action which has an impact and positive outcome in addressing the challenges of today’s society. The universe applauds action, not thought.
I am one of the privileged few who, like others, obtained my masters in 1996 in the Arts Faculty at Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch was then known as the epitome of excellence and therefore accepted blue-chip learners. Being accepted amongst the prestigious few was a seal of approval on my journey to GREATNESS. At the time, the hype was more about me, my achievements and making my family proud. It was about what doors this prestigious qualification could open for me. And, what benefit it was for my children’s growth and development. Being a teacher, later an editor and then a publisher at MacMillan Publishers South Africa, I thought; what other GREATER platforms can I explore, in order to provide much needed education to South Africans who are not as privileged as I am? Sacred service to Education is what I value the most, and I am convinced it is aligned to my true calling as a teacher. Do you want to know why?
In 1988, inspired by the role of the national public broadcaster, which speaks to more than 23 million people daily and is a conduit to connecting a multiplicity of South Africans, the SABC became a logical platform for me to manifest my dream using the skills I acquired from my education at the University of Stellenbosch and many other institutions.
My journey thus took me naturally to SABC Education – my calling to GREATNESS, where I launched various award winning programmes such as Takalani Sesame and subsequently created the SABC’s Content Hub for local TV content.
I received a variety of awards for the excellence and innovation I displayed in programming. One such award was, ‘Transforming the Public Space Award’ this was in recognition and appreciation for the work that extends a new vision of a better world. I had thought I had arrived, when I realized, as a General Manager Content Hub at the SABC, I was much more than what I had become.
The SABC having carved its new vision in 2004 for its content, required me to have a different mindset. In achieving this, I was introduced to my Teacher and mentor, a medical doctor, surgeon and psychologist, Dr Baruch Banai, Insight Training Centre, who enabled me to align my values and education to the GREATER need of humanity, thus finding and living my purpose. When we take time to determine what we truly value in life, and structure our lives accordingly, then life flows with synchronicity and meaning; we become fulfilled, inspired and, success comes effortlessly on purpose because we are doing what we love and we love what we do well. Having gone through all that and thinking I am at the peak of my performance; I got hit by a double stroke on the 14th of June 2007. Doctors discovered my stroke was caused by a rare tumor in my left brain. I was sent home to die, as the doctors claimed I was terminal and it was just a matter of time…
This was the turning point in my life and a moment of choice that inspired me to see a Vision beyond time and space. A few colleagues, friends and various people from spiritual groups who came to see me, sat with me in meditation and prayer and encouraged me to see a higher Vision, thus to actualize my power of Intention. My Greatest learning was my ability to receive Grace unconditionally and know whatever we stand for, in the name of enlightening the lives of others, radiates Greatness, in ways we can never imagine…
This actually calls to mind the famous quotation of Madiba who quoted Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
What lies behind, beneath and deeper than that mask? Let’s unveil the mask!
It was at this point when I got introduced to Guruji, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and the founder of The Art of Living Foundation, that miraculous healing and awakening happened. He inspired me to embark on a journey that allowed me to master the art of living!! Along with the world class medical care team lead by Dr Rogan Pillay and the brain surgeon Dr Gian Marus and the radio surgery oncologist Dr Robbie de Muetenaere. After embracing Guruji’s spiritual teachings, I had a new lease on life. I was given a second chance. From that day on, I knew if I continued to exist just for myself, my immediate family, my bank balance, my safety, my Kayalami home, and all the luxuries around me, entropy would take over and I would become just a mere mortal who existed for the sake of it. So I dared to dream, I dared to make a difference. I came to this realization based on the following:
The value of my education does not stem only from the subject matter and the income it drew. It was rather on the value it provides to society. As someone who holds qualifications in the human sciences, I have come to understand my value as unlocking creativity, honoring the spirit, and inspiring GREATNESS in those I come into contact with, physically or in a virtual space, (oh yes, I have a website, facebook address and you can follow me on twitter as well –(Laugh Out Loud))!!!!
As you leave this space at the end of this intimate conversation, know that, without a personal vision, knowing who you are and what your existence means to your fellow Souls lying in hospital, locked out of economic participation, neglected parents, grandparents and children going to bed hungry, without parents or care, youth wandering in the streets aimlessly, you are failing your soul’s desire.
When we leave here tonight, let us know our challenge is not to encourage consumerism, but to contribute effectively to the development and wellbeing of the world, its creatures and its people. The combined knowledge and skills we have, when harnessed in unity will GREATLY contribute to the growth of our GDP – but more than that, to the growth of the African child – who is looking up to you with innocent eyes, all of you in this room tonight, asking to make a difference!
Take a moment and ask, can we rise to this challenge?
By the way, the Arts are the engine of the world to which faculties such as Engineering, Economics and other Sciences play a supporting role. For instance, the entertainment industry counts significantly in the GDP’s of countries such as the UK and the US. So let us go and be of value to the world…
Our unique and diverse knowledge, talents and values as we sit here today is not a mistake. It is a miracle not for us, but for South Africa and the world. Our society looks to us to unlock the barriers that continue to promote racism, poverty, unemployment, violence, illness, sexism, crime and other social ills.
How do we then together master the art of co-creating the change needed to give effective GREATNESS to Mother AFRICA? Is it living in harmony, is it Africa healing within, is it Africa’s awakening, is it celebrating diversity or is it integrating the knowledge and power we all have for Africa’s renaissance?
Dr John Demartini in his teachings raises an interesting question, “Can a setback or obstacle be a blessing?”…Think about this!
These are some of the few individuals who turned their adversities into GREATNESS.
The challenge in South Africa is not how many executives we can create and how many entrepreneurs we can develop. The answer does not only lie in the country’s GDP as we know profits go to the pockets of executives or to overseas investors. The answer is not more taxes, as in past years we have experienced excessive wastage, corruption and mismanagement of funds.
The big question is how do we create a significant change in just one person’s life in a manner that generates a ripple effect in order to reach a critical mass? How do we enable just that one person to move out of the gutter and achieve their GREATNESS, so they can in turn change another’s life?
If we take our vision, (which we see and know about ourselves), merge it with our values (our governing principles), and align it with our soul’s desire (the need to make a difference and achieve GREATNESS), that would translate into us all selflessly serving humanity. We would then begin to live the principle of our deepest compassion and our commitment to inspire Greatness!
Let’s just all take a moment to inspire Greatness in our own lives.
How do other countries that also have a history of challenges like ours break through?
China and India are able to flourish because of the following;
We as Africans must ask ourselves some serious questions:
I AM AFRICAN!!!
What does this mean to each and every one of us individually and collectively?
Being African Includes, but is not limited to people born in Africa, those that are of African descent, those that love, care for and identify with this continent, those that are rooted in this continent, those that are patriotic about this continent and those that have invested in the renaissance and success of this content, Our Mother AFRICA.
Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King had a dream that dispelled limiting stereotypes. A dream of equality and opportunity, of privilege and prosperity; a dream of a land where we will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, a dream of a land where we will not argue that the color of our skin determines the content of our character, a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity, the dream of a country where every soul will respect the dignity and worth of the human spirit.
As Africans, and in particular as South Africans, we recognize this universal shared humanity. When there is pain, there are no words. All pain is the same. Emotions are universal, I rejoice when you rejoice and I hurt when you hurt. This phenomenon is an expression of our UBUNTU philosophy, I am because you are, you are because we are and unless you are we cannot be. Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu.
If we were once one of the greatest civilizations that ever walked on planet earth and built such innovative wonders like the Pyramids of Egypt, why have we lost this greatness? Which button can our Educational institutions press to awaken our GREATNESS?
Africa has a long and illustrious history of inventions and discoveries; do we all know what they are and who made them? What can be learnt and what can we ignite from emulating our Great forefathers.
How do we share our unique natural cultural heritage with the world?
The pride of Africa is in the unity it has between cultures and nature, the unity woven into the tapestry of life’s unspoken wisdom. Arise Africans as one creative Great Nation.
In India today, they are governed by deep universal human values that have shaped their civilization. Naraynamoorthy, the CEO of Silicon Valley, Bangalore, decided his vision was to build a company based on respect in India and he lived that Truth. Today his vision is to grow his company to be the most respected in the world.
Can we release our inner power, rekindle our ancient African value systems and shape a new world order? Our true and infinite divine gift! Search deeper and find out why as South Africans, we are still bogged down by issues of colour, gender exclusion and exclusivity and are not rising up to the challenge of achieving GREATNESS Rising up to the challenge includes asking the Self; how does my knowledge help unlock a world of opportunities for at least one other South African soul? Like a Marathon runner or a great world class golfer, we need to spend time mastering our craft so;
Despite our history of past tragedy, we need to embrace the lessons of the great teachers that have come before us.
The early lives of the Great masters were characterized by much challenge and hardship…this in my view was a fertile ground for unveiling their power to achieve GREATNESS. Because out of adversity comes Greatness.
When our desires are in sync with the knowledge we acquire, our understanding of the world around us, our ability to apply ourselves and our need for achieving GREATNESS, we have the stuff LEGENDS are made of. It is when we are living our truest desire we are able to unleash great potential and endless possibilities.
This is the stuff Great leaders concern themselves with; their ability to take knowledge, merge it with the desire of Being Alive with boundless possibilities and apply it in an innovative manner that transforms society and shifts thought, (this is positive change).
This inspired way of being, makes life exciting and worth living!! It makes us legendary images and Voices of Hope. It is the essence of what the Great son of Stellenbosch, Chris Barnard was made up off. Dr John Demartini says it is our relationship with our mind that determines the level of our GREATNESS. He categorises these mindsets as follows;
What does South Africa Need?
Legendary Mindsets that think in terms of creating a healthy legacy for South Africa is what is needed to transform society in a meaningful manner beyond just compliance with polices such as BEE. Minds that know the millions of South Africans in our townships, rural areas, hospitals, in streets and jails have brilliant potential waiting to be unleashed so that South Africa can take its place amongst the nations of the world in GREATNESS. Selfless service, in unity everywhere, anytime by everyone and all the time to every one!
As a Lighthouse, Stellenbosch University should be the beacon that ignites and engenders Greatness especially in our youth, teens and toddlers.
Unleashing a new generation of legendary minds…
The value of this prestigious state of the art university includes a readiness to serve, tolerance and mutual respect, responsibility and academic freedom. Its function is to offer knowledge and to make sure those that interact with the institution experience these values infinitely as it continues to engage in imparting knowledge for change.
As the Alumni of Stellenbosch, a priceless treasure given to all of us, what do we then bring to the table?
What is our vision, what spaces do we see ourselves transforming? At the end of our lives what type of society and nation will South Africa be?… all because we lived? How are we expressing our gratitude and our GRATEFULNESS for the priceless treasure, wisdom and knowledge we have received from our University? How do we do this in a meaningful and action orientated manner? Yes, the knowledge we acquired is a small puzzle in the total picture of our existence. However, it is a core, diverse and unique enabler for us to manifest our truth using our talents.
Can we paint eternal images of hope for the destitute?
Can we entrench our values in the spirit of Ubuntu in our homes, schools, churches, communities and educational institutions?
Can we bring beauty to Africa’s child?
And can we bring solace to Africa’s women? The incubators of life and the anchors of our courage and wisdom.
Making sure, the Great song we are going to sing harmoniously, the story we are going to tell, as Paul Robinson says, “should show life not just as it is, but as it should be”, the picture we are going to paint, the lives we are going to touch, will be remembered long after we have gone.
It is this kind of Innovation, and conscious way of thinking; a creative way of being that produces new economies in a sustainable and healthy environment.
Thus, together with our institution, we need to review the initial engagement we have with our scholars as they enter the university for the first time. At this point, like Mercedes Benz receiving its raw iron, we need to see these students as a final product, in the show room, ready to offer their value to society. This means the following needs to be taken into consideration when enrolling students and when they finally leave the gates of university to engage with society:
The network would therefore offer all its participants opportunity to expand their individual dreams and desires to universal consciousness, thus co-creating Greatness. There is always that thing we all dream about we all know if we do it, it will change humanity. It might be a childhood dream, it might be a nagging voice, it might be a void we cannot fill or an irritating feeling; but something needs to happen.
“We live at a time where isolation is no longer possible. We Live in a time of inter mingling of peoples. We live in a time of interconnectedness…of shared humanity. We live in a time of an inescapable responsibility for each other and of earth” (United Nations Earth Charter).
Listen to that inner voice, be still enough to hear, to remember, to feel and reconnect. We always know what needs to be done. What is important is the courage to do it. Let’s have the courage to let go of our socialization and past indoctrinations, and start living up to our heart’s desires. So let’s start living our Greatness!!!
And Inspire greater possibilities together to all who we cross paths with and so let us; Dare to be different, Dare to make a difference. Go forth with Love and Light.
“I am an African not because I was born an African, but because it was born in me.”
I Thank You.
Words: Yvonne Kgame