Von South Africa

My speech at the "press event" on our last day.

immi doing the speech at the press event

Molo. Igamalam ndingu Immi. Ndivela e Stuttgart eJamani.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share a few brief thoughts with you.

You might ask why I wanted to join IBM’s Corporate Service Corps and come here to South Africa. It’s because I wanted to get a greater understanding and a different view of the world. I am a photographer and I like to take photos from different angles and I can see that when you have a different angle it provides you with a surprising and sometimes completely different picture. So I was very lucky to now get the perspective to see things from here in the Eastern Cape.

When I learned about my team I got very excited because I realized that each of us brings in very different skills. It’s the diverse skills which helped me see very different perspectives. So Thank you Melissa, I pray each night, to be as sophisticated in language as you. Thank you Anna, you have shared a wealth of different project tools and I can totally see why you are an expert in process simplification. Thank you Anil, you have a gift for conceptual understanding and applying technology.

Our assignment with Ruliv was to develop a communications strategy. On our first day, Professor Mazibuko reviewed our assignment and said “here is what I think we need from you but please tell us what you think you need from us.” So he was very open minded and Professor Mazibuko and Kizito Nsanzya (the Information and Knowledge Management director of Ruliv) and his team were very helpful and provided us with all the information we needed and gave us many opportunities to get insight into their work in facilitating economic development in the Eastern Cape.

We agreed that we first needed a greater understanding because that would yield solutions that matter to Ruliv and Ruliv’s clients. We have been in Machubeni, we have been in Bisho for a tour of the provincial capital, we have met with the Ubuntu Ma-Afrika organization who delivers home-based care for HIV & AIDS patients and others in need, and we have been taught some Xhosa words and the Ruliv team openly shared their business world with us.

Now if I compare their world with my world at home in Germany I realize that everything in Germany is all set up. Everything is standardized, a strong infrastructure is available, business processes, communication processes are clearly defined, and education is quite easily available for everyone. While here in South Africa the Ruliv team builds their bridge as they walk on it. Professor Mazibuko, Kizito Nsanzya and his team understand the value of having a strong IT system and strong communication process in place.

The four weeks was an exchange of information on an even level. We have learned that Ruliv is growing fast and organically and we helped them by structuring a communications and management system. Our recommendations provide concrete and practical advise and a solid foundation for Ruliv’s growth.

Last weekend I took the time to share a 10 page letter to my lovely 9 and 10 year old daughters at home in Germany. I told them about the major challenges that people have in Machubeni, such as getting water to their garden, education for their children, and enough to eat. When I go back home to Germany I want to share those different perspectives with my IBM colleagues, with my friends and family and many others.

I want to thank Ruliv and IBM. Thanks to Professor Mazibuko and Kizito Nsanzya for giving me this very exceptional experience. The pictures which I have physically and the experiences which I have made truly gave me completely different and new perspectives.

So to summarize in Xhosa
Sifumene abahlobo [We have found friends]
Ndifunde lukhulu. [I have learned a lot]
Ndiyayithanda i South Africa [I love South Africa]
Enkosi [Thank you]