Avalon again 2005

Avalon again 2005

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What does it really mean? "Proudly South African"?

Dear Themba, you raise a very interesting issue-what it means to be a "proudly South African". Despite the fact that you do not elaborate a lot on that, it is interesting that one is aware of the controversial meaning of that term. I will tell you what I think very briefly.
For me, the term "South African identity" is problematic, because not everybody in this country fully understands or appreciates the vaue of the so-called "South African identity". As anyone can see, some people still live in big nice houses, some people are still left on the streets. In fact, there is no room for all these various populations of South Africa to integrate socially, culturally and even professionally. People tend to close themselves in their small social circle and identify themselves in the context of this small community that they have become part of. Even at Wits one can see a gear degree of disintegration among the students from various backgrounds. I will not go so far as to discuss the reasons for that. I think that everybody knows what they are.
However, if South Africans are looking with optimism at the World Cup in 2010 and they believe that the whole world will see that the "rainbow nation" in fact exists, they need to open to each other and show more willingness to understand the different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities of South Africa. If not, the whole idea of the so-called "rainbow nation" will be just one utopian idea. Besides, anybody who claims that he (she) is a "proudly South African" needs to speak more than just one language, such as English. As we already know, South Africa has eleven official spoken languages. And how many people speak at least half of those? This is what we should start thinking about.
Please, Themba or anybody else, let me know if you believe that I should elaborate more on that issue!

"Conflict Resolution" and the Workplace

Berenice De la Croix's presentation on "conflict resolution" was an extremely valuable lesson for me to understand how to deal with a conflict in inter-personal relationships and at the work-place. In fact, over the long weekend, I was involved in a serious conflict with some friends of mine. In fact, the issue that we argued about was actually a minor issue, but I guess that everybody was trying to push his agenda as always and convince the others that he was right.
Honestly speaking, when arguing I am not very keen on accepting other peoples' points and ideas and I can keep on arguing for quite a long time. However, Berenice De la Croix's presentation taught me that one of the ways to deal with a conflict is to compromise or accommodate your opponent.
I remember that she mentioned that being "assertive" means that you should be both tolerant to other peoples' opinions and at the same time express your vision on a particular issue in an opened and sincere manner. Therefore, "assertiveness" does not mean that one should be a "stubborn" and neglect automatically other peoples' opinions, but listen carefully and acknowledge whenever the other person could be right in his (her) own view. Personally, this was a valuable lesson that I learnt from Berenice De la Croix's presentation and I can see that it already helps largely in inter-personal relationships as much it helps at the workplace.
Thanks, Berenice!

The Cultural Gap and the "Bulgarian Stallion"

This post aims to throw reveal the controversy around the blog name "the Bulgarian Stallion". In fact, this name was chosen with no deliberate thoughts in mind and obviously I was not aware of some connotations attached to this name. The night before I was about to choose a blog name, I watched the movie "Rocky" with Silvester Stallown, quite an old movie about a famous boxer from Philadelphia. In the movie he was referred to as the "Italian Stallion", I do not know why.
I liked this name and when I had to create a name for my blog, I decided to refer it somehow to Bulgaria. And because it had to be my own blog, I decided to name the blog "the Bulgarian Stallion". Only later I found out that this blog name had some sexual connotations attached to it, not familiar to me. For that reason I would like to say at this point that the choice for this blog name had nothing to do with any of those meanings. Obviously, I have not been aware of this meaning from a cultural point of view.
However, now that I know what it refers to, I am glad that by accident this blog name brought some movement and discussion among people. And believe it or not, I will not change it as long as it makes people think and question themselves why there is such a blog name. As Roy Blumenthal suggested, we have to be original and unique in the way we represent ourselves. Thus, with regards to the blog name, let it be!