Saturday, September 20, 2008

Social Entrepeneurship, Life, and Zuma

Jo Hunter Adams

I recently read a book called "How to Change the World" by David Bernstein. It was a collection of life histories of influential people that the author had interviewed. I wanted to share two things.

Many of the stories were linked to an organization called Ashoka. I was struck by the idea that you can't hire people when it comes to social change. He argued that you can't create a social entrepeneur. This idea really helped me to make sense of my discomfort with many international aid agencies. I'm critical in a limited (and often ignorant) way. On the one hand, "what do I know?!" On the other hand, "something's wrong with this picture!" (particularly, when outside, terribly well-paid professionals are brought in from the outside). There's a positive to be gleaned from this picture. That, in every community there are social entrepeneurs, traders in social change, who international aid agencies can join and share a vision with. I am really excited about that idea, of generating income or support with the understanding that the vision is something bigger that you may not be able to totally get your head around.

The second message I found powerful was that there is no end to what can be achieved by an individual who doesn't care who gets credit. Enough said.

In other news, Zuma.
As many of you know, Mbeki has been given three days to leave government. It's virtually impossible to overestimate the way that this news alters South African politics.

Although I'm not implying that the world will end or that South African life will change day to day, I just think it's a massive turn, because it is a move that is completely based in a vendetta, which is being placed above the good of the nation. My personal opinion is that if an individual (and the ANC as a party) can place personal good this far above collective good, and ignore the political process that has been so essential in holding the country together, there's a lot for us to be worried about. I'm obviously not in South Africa, so if those of you who are would like to speak to this, I invite you to do so.

Thanks everyone.

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