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  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
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Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
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Entries in Cape Town (26)

Thursday
Jun042015

World Economic Forum 2015 - day 2

Today is the 2nd day of the World Economic Forum regional meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

I only got into the CTICC just after 9am because I had to do a short radio interview at 8.15. Thankfully the rain has let up! So driving in was a little better on my motorcycle. As an aside, it must be one of the best ways to travel! I managed to park just across the road from the CTICC, whereas the drivers of cars first had to have their cars screened and cleared by a security team before they could enter the parking lot. In large measure this has to do with the number of foreign dignitaries, who are attending the forum, as well as the fact that Mr Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, spoke this morning. I attended the Panel discussion at which Mr Zuma spoke. Just a few minutes before that session he and the security entourage passed right past me. I was asked to stand still for a few moments as they passed. Then, as I was about to enter the venue of the presentation I saw my friend Archbishop Thabo Makgoba waiting to enter the venue. We talked for a while and then sat together in the hall. It was wonderful to see him being greeted by so many of the important and significant dignitaries, especially Mrs Graca Machel (see the attached photograph).

I was also grateful to have an opportunity to meet Mrs Machel and tell her about the research that I am doing on her for the American Academy of Religion. She was very kind! I even managed to get a photograph with her when I attended the panel discussion on bridging the gap between male and female economic inequality.

She is doing such amazing work to bring gender equality in society. It is a sad fact that women are most often the primary carers in the home and in society, they earn less than their male counterparts and get less access to the formal economy. On the whole women work harder and get less than men! While many countries and companies work for 'political' equality (representation in policy and decision-making positions). However this is not matched in wages, division of labour and human rights. The issue that should drive this agenda is justice and equality, not tokenism. The ethics of care is a reminder that care is not linked to only one gender. Women often get trapped in unpaid care that locks them to the home. Men work and so get economic independence, status and even the stimulus and recognition for their efforts. So simply put, let's distribute care and the division of labour in the home more equitably, and let's educate, lobby, and work for equal rights, opportunities and economic opportunities for both women and men.

One of the most interesting parts of the day was in the earlier panel discussion on Africa (the plenary session) when Anton du Plessis (from the Institute for Security Studies asked a question about security, good governance and corruption - I managed to record the response of Mr Zuma, it is in Apple voice recorder format (.m4a) and about 2MP.

You can download it from here.

He was clearly in the hot seat! His response was vague and tried to avoid the local context and his own challenges in South Africa. As I listened to conversations after that session it was clear that person's from all over the world were aware of this embarrassement!

In the broader discourse of the day, a great deal of the discussion on the morning has been about the development of Africa's youthful population. A few interesting statistics are that by 2040, 50% of the world's Youth will be African, and that there is a need to create 80 million jobs a year for African school leavers (for all of us to be employed). There was an emphasis on the fact that we need to train young Africans to be much more entrepreneurial, and also that education in Africa, while being widespread (about 90% of Africans get access to some form or level of education), is often not preparing young people for work or work creation.

I also attended a session on water security - it was shocking to be reminded that the World Economic Forum lists water security as the single largest challenge we face in the world today! Statistically the WEF shows that demand will be 40% higher than what the earth is able to supply by 2050! We are heading for a serious water crisis. What is needed is for us to change the way in which we use water, demand and supply are a huge problem. Wastage is another problem - it was reported that just 8 municipalities in South Africa account for 90% of wasted water, costing us 7 Billion Rand per annum! That is shocking! Lastly, we need technology and partnerships to manage water use policy and water supply and delivery.

As a Christian I am thinking how can we use this precious resource more justly? The reality is that people like myself can afford clean and reliable water, but the poor cannot! They suffer most when water is scarce. I will be attending a few more sessions during the day and will upload more reflections and thoughts as the day progresses.

Thursday
Jun042015

World Economic Forum - day 2

 

Please follow this link for an updated post with reflection on further sessions on gender equality, water security and the development challenges.

Today is the 2nd day of the World Economic Forum regional meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. I only got into the CTICC just after 9am because I had to do a short radio interview at 8.15. Thankfully the rain has let up! So driving in was a little better on my motorcycle. As an aside, it must be one of the best ways to travel! I managed to park just across the road from the CTICC, whereas the drivers of cars first had to have their cars screened and cleared by a security team before they could enter the parking lot. In large measure this has to do with the number of foreign dignitaries, who are attending the forum, as well as the fact that Mr Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, spoke this morning. I attended the Panel discussion at which Mr Zuma spoke. Just a few minutes before that session he and the security entourage passed right past me. I was asked to stand still for a few moments as they passed. Then, as I was about to enter the venue of the presentation I saw my friend Archbishop Thabo Makgoba waiting to enter the venue. We talked for a while and then sat together in the hall. It was wonderful to see him being greeted by so many of the important and significant dignitaries, especially Mrs Graca Machel.

 

I was also grateful to have an opportunity to meet Mrs Machel and tell her about the research that I am doing on her for the American Academy of Religion. She was very kind! One of the most interesting parts of the panel discussion was when Anton du Plessis (from the Institute for Security Studies asked a question about security, good governance and corruption - I managed to record the response of Mr Zuma, it is in Apple voice recorder format (.m4a) and about 2MP.

You can download it from here.

A great deal of the discussion on the morning has been about the development of Africa's youthful population. A few interesting statistics are that by 2040, 50% of the world's Youth will be African, and that there is a need to create 80 million jobs a year for African school leavers (for all of us to be employed). There was an emphasis on the fact that we need to train young Africans to be much more entrepreneurial, and also that education in Africa, while being widespread (about 90% of Africans get access to some form or level of education), is often not preparing young people for work or work creation.

 

I will be attending a few more sessions during the day and will upload more reflections and thoughts as the day progresses.  Please follow this link for an updated post with reflection on further sessions on gender equality, water security and the development challenges.

Wednesday
Jun032015

World Economic Forum 2015 - day 1

I have just registered for the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting that is taking place in Cape Town.

I am honoured and excited to have been selected to be one of the 150 or so persons from civil society to participate.

I am looking forward to 3 days of learning and participating in the various sessions.

I have joined sessions on ethics and governance, economic stability and poverty, and the role of civil society as my primary points of participation. It is very exciting!

Security is super tight! I had to park about 2km from the CTICC and walk down. Registration was very efficient and simple.

I will tweet on @digitaldion and post some comments and reflections here throughout the next three days. So please do check back from time to time if you are interested.

Sunday
May102015

Wow! So I will be attending the World Economic Forum on Africa next month!

I am not quite sure what 'qualified' me to be invited to participate in the World Economic Forum on Africa that is to be held in Cape Town next month (3-5 June 2015)? However, I am grateful and a little nervous to attend!

I was sent an invitation once before (about a year ago), but was not able to take up the invitation at that time. I felt then, as I do now, that there were others who could serve better in that realm and so I suggested that they invite some other South African academics and business leaders that I have worked with. Sadly the invitation is not transferable. So I thought that was it!

But recently I received another invitation to next months meetings. After checking with my HOD and our Dean if I could be released to go (which they enthusiastically agreed upon!) I completed my registration and received a confirmation of attendance on the same day!

I am not entirely sure what the 3 day meeting will entail. However, I am excited to participate and look forward to learning and bringing a perspective on economics that is shaped by the common good, informed from the ethics of my Christian faith. I have done some work in recent years on economics and justice, written a book and a number of articles on issues such as poverty, inequality, corruption and suffering, but also on faith and work and the responsible purpose of wealth.

I would appreciate your prayers.

You can read about the meetings here:

http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-africa-2015

I will post information and details here as I receive them.

Sunday
Mar082015

Cape Town Cycle Tour 2015 Argus

Off to school! My darling Megan and I are heading out for a shorter Argus Cape Town Cycle tour this year. Because of fires that have devastated the Cape peninsula the race has been shortened from 109km to just 47km. So we are planning a fun little spin off to Muizenberg and back. I am riding my Alex Moulton small wheel bike this year. Normally I ride my Brompton, but this year I decided to do something different.

We are looking forward to a fun ride!

Sunday
Jun162013

A wonderful Father's Day!

I have travelled a little less this year than last year. It is just awesome to be home for Father's Day!

I got breakfast in bed. At Church they had a special focus on dads - Liam said he loves me because I take him to school on my Vespa sometimes! Ha ha!

After Church we came to the Strand beach for some lunch and enjoyed a rare day of perfect winter weather!

A perfect day! I am so thankful for my wonderful children. They are an immeasurable gift. I am equally thankful for my wonderful wife, Megan.

Thursday
Mar212013

A beautiful day in Cape Town!

Today is Human Rights day in South Africa - a bank holiday! After the pressure, long days, early mornings, late nights, back to back flights, and many meetings, we took the day to do some sight seeing around our city. It is awesome to live here! I feel so blessed!

The day started by taking a friend to the airport, then a lovely Mountainbike ride (I did a radio interview for EXPOSED from up in the mountains), and then around to Cape Point, Camps Bay, Hout Bay and finally home.

Monday
Mar112013

The 2013 Cape Argus Cycle Tour (with Megan and my Brompton M6L)!

Yesterday my darling Megan and I rode the Cape Argus Cycle tour.  The weather was just perfect (perhaps a little hot, but beautiful!) the secenery was awesome, and it was just fantastic to spend the time with her!

My seeded start time was 6.48 (K group), however, I started with her and a friend from Church in PA group at 9.28.  We got lots of comments on the Brompton as we rode - it was an absolute star.  Not a single hickup, small wheels around the coast! 110km of pure bicycling fun.  

Here's a picture of us at the start of the race.

The hills were not too bad - although I do realise that I am a little fitter than many other riders. The lowest gear was not quite low enough for an easy spin up Edinburgh Drive or Smitswinkel, and since I was giving my darling wife a 'little push' it took a little more energy.  By the time I reached Suikerbossie I was having to dig a little deeper!  Ha ha! But, we passed lots of riders with BIG wheels and LOTS of gears!

Here's a picture of me with the folded Brompton standing on the side wall about 3/4 way up Chapmans Peak. I had been poking fun at the other riders for 'cheating' with too many gears and wheels that were too large!

I am so proud of my darling wife! She rode very well.  This is her second Argus (she last rode almost a decade ago).  It was my 11th ride. Megan was strong and didn't complain at all. It was so special to share this time with her, both the training and the actual race itself.

We both commented that we just don't spend enough time enjoying the beauty around Cape Town! We live here! But, we tend to get busy with everything else.

You can check out the race route and a few other details on my Endomondo data below.

Saturday
Jul142012

Looking towards home! Malaysia to Cape Town

This week in Malaysia with the good people of Malaysian Care has been another one of those blessed 'God encounters' for me.

Malaysia holds a very special place in my heart. I have visited this country more than any other. Each time that I come here I discover a new level of blessing, and of course some added layers of complexity in the Malaysian social, political and religious context. This week was no different.

Because of some scrutiny by the security police on a previous visit I have been somewhat cautious about sharing the names of people and places that I visited this week. I can say, however, that I met with old friends, made a myriad of news friends, and heard some absolutely amazing stories of hope and courage.

I was privileged to share this trip with my colleague, Amanda Jackson, from Micah Challenge International. Amanda is an experienced campaigner, activist, and a wise and trusted friend. Her gifts of discernment and gentle grace were a God send in the meetings we had with senior Church leaders, sometimes jaded activists and campaigners for justice and freedom, and particularly as we met with some very senior political figures. I have learned a lot from her!

One of our speaking events took place at DUMC (Dream Centre, a Methodist Church). This was the Church that was raided by the security police last year, and a number of the staff and workers were arrested on charges of sedition [Update 18 July 2012 - I was contacted by DUMC to indicate that in fact none of their staff had been arrested during the DUMC event, and it was not the sedition act that was enforced.  To find out more information about this event please see the official statements on the DUMC website at http://www.dumc.com.my ]. I'm pleased to say that the sedition act, which was the act under which we and our hosts faced police 'interest' in 2011, has been repealed. These are some concerns that the act which has replaced it is not much better. Still, I am comforted by the courage of these sisters and brothers who are willing to be imprisoned simply for feeding the hungry, educating and clothing the poor, and advocating for the rights of the disenfranchised.

I was asked, by a friend last night (who was arrested last year for advocating for the rights of fellow citizens) what my impression is of Malaysia. I have considered that question a great deal. I am encouraged that the Church is so active, understanding that our relationship with Jesus supersedes national laws. I am encouraged by the fact that members of Churches and their leaders understand that serving Jesus requires taking responsibility for the freedom and rights of all of the nations citizens. I am encouraged that the Church is not so narrow-minded that it ignores sisters and brothers from different denominations and faith traditions. Churches and religious groupings are standing together to see God's justice established.

I am particularly encouraged that the Christians that I met with this week love Jesus passionately, and from that love flows a myriad of responses to the question what does the Gospel look like in society? and what should the good news of Jesus' love feel like for the poor, the stranger, the weak, the oppressed?

We made significant headway for the 'EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption campaign'! There will be a good witness, a strong light, showing just how much God loves Malaysia.

So, I will be praying for all of my unnamed friends. I am encouraged to act, with passion and commitment, once again for the land in which I live - South Africa. We have some significant challenges when it comes to corruption. A lack of transparency, the abuse of political power, racism, and moral decay. It is time for me to once again become an advocate and an activist in my own land!

Thank you for reminding me of that calling my Malaysian friends!

Monday
Mar052012

Tips for the Cape Argus Pick n Pay cycle tour

This Sunday I will be riding my 10th Argus (I think it is 10). I have been looking forward to it for ages! I love this race, it is one of the highlights of my cycling year, one of only 3 road rides that I do each year.

Last year I did my 'competitive' ride - I was 39 years old and wanted to do a fairly good time. I managed to do the 110km Argus cycle tour in under 3.30 hours. It was fairly tough since I was riding with a cracked rib, having done the Argus Mountainbike the week before. I left in group R, if I am not mistaken. There were a lot of serious cyclists around me! I felt quite inspired and a little competitive. This year I will be setting off at 6.51am in group J. I will be aiming for a comfortable 4 hour ride - no racing this year!

In part it is because I have just returned from a week in England where I did no riding (except for a short jaunt on a 'Boris Bike' from Waterloo along the South Bank of the Thames up past Tower Bridge). In part it is also because I just want to enjoy my 10th Argus and have fun among the riders, enjoying the scenery and the company. Riding a sub 3.30 means chasing the clock, not stopping to get extra water, and certainly not stopping to chat or admire the view.

But, regardless of planning a slower ride here are a few tips for this week leading up to the race:

- Taper down your training: I did a 25 km light ride this morning from 5-6am, just spinning out my legs. I'll do another one of these on Thursday morning and then rest my legs for Sunday.
- Rest well: If you plan to ride this week don't do anything strenuous after Wednesday. But, more than resting your legs also remember to sleep well this week - try for 7-8 hours a night. You'll be amazed how much it helps!
- Watch what you eat or drink: certainly don't drink too much alcohol. In fact, don't have any alcohol this week if you can help it. Also watch what you eat. You don't want to pick up unnecessary weight this week while you're training less.
- Don't try any new supplements: be sure to make use of trusted supplements this week, and also during the race! Avoid the temptation to pick up the newest fad supplement at the the Argus Expo - you may just end up with a sore stomach and no power in your legs!
- Test your bike, then don't mess with it: Make sure everything is OK on your bike by Tuesday. That way if you have a problem you still have time to get it fixed, even if you need to order a spare part. Once it is working don't mess with it!
- Drink lots of water: I would normally drink rehydrate once a day from Thursday to Saturday to make sure I am well hydrated for the race.
- Relax and don't stress about the ride: this is more important than you may realize! I know a few folks who jeopardize their chances for a good, fun, cycle by getting all panicked and stressed out. It is what it is, a fun ride! Go out to enjoy it!
- Pack your kit for race day on Saturday: yup, pack it, check it, then make sure you take it! The last thing you need is to arrive in the City and realize you've left your helmet or your cycling shoes back home.

Those are my basic tips. What do you do in the week leading up to the Argus?

Saturday
Nov192011

The first day of summer in Cape Town!

Today was the first summer's day that we've had in Cape Town! It is amazing that summer has come so late - last weekend the last day of the Wines2Whales ride was cancelled (much to my disappointment) because we had snow in Grabouw and they couldn't get the emergency personnel onto to the route from Grabouw to Hermanus!

However, I woke up at 5.30 this morning to glorious sunshine and joined some friends for an awesome ride on Lourensford farm. As I left my gate and rode up Lourensford road towards Erinvale it was quiet, cool and clear!

We only did about 25km - I'll confess it hardly felt like a worthwhile ride. But it was great to be on the trails, climbing the jeep tracks an whizzing down the single track. I didn't have a single fall in last week's race. Today, I took a gentle little tumble rounding a hairpin bend.

The picture a above was taken with my iPhone as we were climbing towards the first piece of single track (I think it is called Eagles View).

I love this place! I give thanks to God for the beauty, safety and opportunity to ride!

Bring on summer! Let the South Easter begin to blow... And it will!

Tuesday
Mar292011

Back to Cape Town - 27 March 2011

Our time in the US ended on a high note - the two day conference on our book, 'Transform your work Life' and our Unashamedly Ethical campaign went off extremely well. Both Graham and I were well received by the 180 people in attendance, we ended the weekend with the establishment of a UE community in Palos Verdes and another in Hollywood. We also had close to 90 persons commit themselves to the Unashamedly Ethics commitment to ethics in personal and business life.

LA was wonderful! It is such beautiful place, and our hosts, Dave and Kristen Wendorff were just wonderful. I feel that I have made friends in them that will last me a lifetime!

I am truly grateful for your prayers, the Lord blessed us in so many ways. I look forward to being back in the USA in June. But for now I cannot wait to get home! Our flight goes from LA to Washington (5 hours), then Washington to Johannesburg (via Dakar, which is 16.5 hours) and then Johannesburg to Cape Town (which is another 2 hours). Together with the airport lay overs it is almost 2 days in transit, but for the joy of being with the wonderful friends in Jacksonville, San Francisco, San Jose and LA, AND for the joy of getting home it is worth it! I cannot wait to see Megie, Courtney and Liam! They will collect me at just before 10pm.