Blog Action Day: Human Rights in 2013

In the past I’ve written about Blog Action Day here and here. I feel guilty for not contributing from 2009 to 2012 in this very worth while cause. As a pioneer in teaching Blogging for Business seminars to both companies and private schools in South Africa, it’s my duty to promote blogging as a tool for change.


Nisha Varghese East London bloggerPerhaps the best example of blogging about human rights is my friend Nisha Varghese. She has written over 1,170 articles on her blog, mostly about children’s rights and rights for people with disability. She herself suffers from cerebral palsy but this has not stopped her from being very active online in promote chartable causes once a year. He most recent cause was to stop slavery and raised over US$ 1,000 simply through blogging and Twitter.


Human Rights are enshrined both in the South African constitution and the United Nations declaration. But what does this really mean in the Internet age? So many people still suffer for various reasons, the gap between the rich and poor continue to widen.  Prof Hans Rosling in one of his numerous TED Talks, clearly showed the correlation between population, access to the Internet, and increases in income. So I believe the right to accessing the Internet is worthy of an addition to the United Nations declaration and all constitutions which promote freedom of the individual.


In September 2013 I moved to China, and feel slightly awkward writing about human rights in this country. There is undertone of don’t look and don’t tell. Chinese Government has made the Internet widely available, and at the same time imposed tremendous filtering and control measures known as the Great Firewall of China.


In conclusion, one thing I am most sure about is that human rights do not depend on governments. If we simply act like like human beings, there will no need to enforce these rights. So I leave you with one of my favourite passages from the Tao Te Ching, the Chinese book of the Way and it’s Power – from Chapter 19 (Ron Hogan’s translation of Tao Te Ching):

[templatic_contentbox type=”normal” title=”Tao Te Ching”]

Get rid of sanctity. People will understand the truth and be happier.

Get rid of morality. People will respect each other and do what’s right.

Get rid of value and profit. People will not steal if they do not desire. [/templatic_contentbox]


China Toastmasters and My First Speech Competition

Toastmasters International logoIn September I moved to China to do my MBA degree at Ningbo University. Before I left South Africa I wanted to make sure there is an active China Toastmasters community. I was not disappointed after participating in my first Speech competition last Sunday.


Toastmasters International is a worldwide organisations that teaches communication and leadership in weekly group meetings. The environment allows people to become comfortable with public speaking as well as leading group activities. You can find a Toastmasters club in most big cities in the world by searching online.

Anyway after being a member of two clubs in South Africa, CIS Toastmasters in Houghton, Johannesburg and uSpeak Toastmasters in Port Elizabeth, I found only one club in Ningbo: Ningbo Nr. 1 Toastmasters, which holds it’s meetings at Nottingham University in Ningbo.


After attending only one club meeting I was invited to the Area Speech Competition in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. I was in for a big surprise on the morning of the competition when I discovered it was the humours speech competition. My speech title was “Passport to Mars” and I prepared a persuasive speech, to inspire and convince the audience, we should go to Mars in the 21st century.

After some quick thinking and thanks to Evernote, I adapted my speech into a tirade on Hollywood Alien-invasion movies, and how they mostly designed to scare people. Whenever you watch a movie about aliens, or going to another planet, unless it was E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, you would walk away with a sense of trepidation.

My second challenge was how to adapt my South African humour for a Chinese audience. In the end, this was the most difficult. My only cancellation was the warm reception from some individual Chinese people before and especially after my speech. In one day I met two Chinese people who visited South Africa, so I was very optimistic about the next two years on mainland China.