By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Random South Africa impressions

I met with a young consultant from McKinsey, a South African whose parents emigrated many years ago to the United Sates. After going to school in the U.S., he decided to return to South Africa. I asked him why. "If I worked for McKinsey in the States, I could help a company raise its margins by 1 or 2 percent. Here I can help a country significantly increase its growth rate and bring people out of poverty."

According to an international survey published in the local newspaper Business Day, Capetown is the most-desirable conference destination in the world, up from fourth last year and beating New York.
Getting ready to leave a men's room in the National Treasury, I saw what I thought was a pile of towlettes in plastic packings. On opening one to clean my hands, I discovered it was a condom -- part of the country's anti-AIDS effort.

An amazing feature of TV here is how it moves back and forth across the country's l5-odd languages. On English-language television, ads in Afrikaans are interspersed with ones in English. On soap-opera type shows in English, characters suddenly and mysteriously break out into Afrikaans, Zulu, or Khosa, and then just as suddenly back into English again.

Much of the top political and agency leadership members are veterans of the country's freedom struggle that culminated in the end of apartheid in 1994. It turns out that Trevor Manuel, the country's internationally highly regarded finance minister, spent years and years in jail before 1994.

Yesterday was Nelson Mandela's 89th birthday.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Jul 19, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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