Chinese Revolution

Tai Chi Master Jet LiTo my surprise I have been invited by Selwyn Klaas from the Preview Theatre, to participate in the celebration of the Chinese Revolution on 10 October 2003 at Sandton Sun Hotel. You can read this article from the South African Communist Party’s website about the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution. This is very exciting as I have long held an interest in Chinese culture and history.

While I was growing up I was teased for looking Chinese. Back then I hated it but I’ve learned to turn it to my advantage! Two years ago I started doing Tai Chi classes. My first exposure to this ancient internal martial art was from a Jet Li in the movie called The Tai Chi Master. Then in Cape Town during 1999 I learned more about the health benefits of Tai Chi that makes it the perfect exercise.


Get Ahead in your Career, Work and Job Update

My friend Yusuf Mahomedy invited me to join his next seminar: WORKSUCKS, MAKE WORK WORK EXPRESS 2007.

Get Ahead in your Career, Work & Job like never before.

Do you really want to take charge of your career before 2007 ends?Are you ready to create your work success with stuff that is not available to 99.99% of South African employees? Do you want to break free of a dissatisfying job? Are you job hunting? If you are serious about getting ahead in your working life and wondering what more can you do, this experience could be a turning point in your life. For over 3 years, Worksucks has been covering the SA Market through a unique lens and assisting individuals create their work success.

This one of a kind presentation for career seekers, employees and students, will cover

  1. The Realities of Working in SA
  2. Work Success – Fulfilment, Fame, Fortune
  3. The Job Hunting Game
  4. From Employee to Entrepreneur
  5. Real Life Opportunities
  6. Finding your next job using online Social Networking (Ramon Thomas)

The experience includes hard hitting strategies, examples from SA companies, playing the recruitment game (gain the upperhand over agencies), analysis of employment documentation (packages, contracts) and stuff that you can apply immediately in your career. No B.S. No motivational drivel. No Hype.


  • Yusuf Mahomedy – In the past decade, Yusuf Mahomedy (CA(SA), CPA(SA), AdvTax)) has accumulated a wealth of expertise around the new work economy. His professional background combined with experience in a small practice, tax consulting in a ‘Big 4’ firm and heading the remuneration department at a telecoms group; provides a multidisciplinary lens on the business of work. He founded WORKSUCKS in 2004, a unique venture to assist corporates, small business and employees, ‘Make Work, Work’ in rather unconventional ways. A self professed ‘Work Radical’, he wears several hats – reward consultant, employees tax specialist, coach, futurist and sometimes, undefined ones.
  • Ramon Thomas – At the forefront of a new breed of professional speakers emerging from South Africa, my unique ability is always communicating the big picture to help my clients solve problems and make better decisions. My speciality is in the Psychology of Technology.

Date: Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Time: 18h00-20h00
Venue: Sandton Library (Tel 011 881 6440)

Fee: Career Seekers/Employees – R80 (including VAT) or Full Time Students – R30 (including VAT)

Guarantee: If this Express Event does not demonstrate value in your working life, claim a full refund. Register: e-mail Yusuf Mohemedy with your name, address, contact number and student number (if applicable)


Reflections on 2007 Digital Citizens Indaba

It’s been a week after the 2nd annual DCI event in Grahamstown. This event is a sidekick to the much larger and more established conference Highway Africa. As with all these types of events it’s layered with good intentions. However, the practical side of it sometimes leaves much room for improvement. The highlights were certainly the keynote by Ndesanjo Macha and my friend Daudie Were. During the later sessions Vincent Maher delivered the geekiest presentation I’ve ever seen at a conference. And he’s well on his way to becoming everyone’s favourite geek in South Africa.

There was some miscommunication between DCI organisers and Highway Africa as they initially asked me to conduct some workshop with DCI delegates. I could not track down anyone from Highway Africa to confirm it but based on the programme I realised it was not worth the effort. I had so much more to share with the delegates. My own talk was more aimed at inspiring bloggers to think beyond just writing and specifically how blogging can bolster their careers. Much of the investment is upfront and the pay-off is over the longer term. There are excellent online role models emerging in South Africa with the likes of Laurian Clemence, who spoke with me on the Moneytising and Marketing panel, launching her Wibble project recently.

What I would like to see more of in the future:

  1. Better planning of the sessions – there were some hiccups later in the day and the timing was consistent between breaks. Maybe the lunch venue can be in the same place as the conference venue because there was time lost walking to the lunch venue.
  2. Quality control on presentation – while most speakers were awesome there was not sufficient glue tying things together. I’ve noticed this is symptomatic of conferences i.e. the program directors are not checking the contents of the presentations or taking a few minutes to discuss with the speakers what exactly they will talk about. Just doing this one thing can take the quality of what delegates get out of this to the next level.
  3. Interaction between speakers – it would help if the speakers are able to have a dinner the evening before the event to discuss their topics and create more synergy.

Blog your way to Being an Expert

This is a summary of the talk and presentation that I delivered at the 2nd annual Digital Citizens Indaba on the Marketing and Monetising panel. My fellow presenters were Laurian Clemence and Matthew Buckland.

I started out telling the story of how I attended the 1st DCI conference last year, met Emeka Okafor, and ended up being awarded a TED Global Fellowship. It’s very difficult to place a monetary value on the experience gained from this event. Simply put the money for my travel, accommodation and conference fees are approximately US$10,000 or more.

Next I showcased my personal development blog, some of the structural elements like the Aweber email subscription form, the TAG cloud, the notable plugin that allows readers to submit my blog postings to Digg, Reddit and other social bookmarking websites. Inside the WordPress Dashboard I pointed out the growing list of incoming links from Blogrolls as the quality of articles has increased over time. There is a direct correlation between this narrowing of my focus, writing more original content, and the increase in traffic I’ve experienced since January 2007.

Next I showed how easy it is to include your blog’s RSS feed into your Facebook profile. There is a regular amount of traffic coming from Facebook users and I’m looking into merging my feeds using Yahoo! Pipes so that I can get even more exposure through Facebook. My LinkedIn profile brings high quality traffic to my this blog.

Next I displayed a awesome graph and quoted some research on a blog entry about how to become an expert. The essence of this is that you need to have persistence and specifically look to continuously improve what you do to set you apart from the drop-outs and the amateurs in your industry. The best example of this Steve Pavlina’s blog and I highly recommend the two articles: Confessions of an A-list blogger and How to make money from your blog, as well as all his podcasts.

5 Steps to becoming an Expert

  • Choose Your Topic (Niche) – it’s very important to differentiate your blog from others in your industry. So spend time using Google Blogsearch or Technorati to checkout your competition.?
  • Read Books – According to Dr John Demartini if you read 72-85 books on one topic it’s the equivalent of completing a Ph.D on that topic.
  • Interview Experts/People – By interviewing experts you can learn from them and also get to know them personally as people.
  • Participate > Online Discussions – It’s very important to go and find where your people are having online discussions and contribute to those. Start with forums, they have been around since before blogs became the rage and some are exceptionally influential.
  • Write Articles Not Blogs – What can I say. This is a must read by Jakob Nielsen.
      Download the presentation from here:

Ansbert Ngurumo on blogging in Kiswahili

Ansbert Ngurumo spoke about blogging in Kiswahili in the Fractured Identities session of the Digital Citizens Indaba 2007. This was in some respects one of the most inspiring talks for me because it is in sync with my own views that one of the best solutions to reducing the digital divide is translation of software and websites into indigenous languages like Kiswahili.

Here’s my podcast interview with Ansbert using my Sony Ericsson w880i:


Daudi Were on Blogging and Democracy

My friend Daudi Were spoke in the Fractured Identities session of the 2007 Digital Citizens Indaba. We first met last year at the DCI and also at TED Global in Tanzania. Daudi is currently organising a African Bloggers conference to be held in Kenya in April/June 2007.


Ndesanjo Macha keynote at Digital Citizens Indaba 2007

Ndejanjo MachaProfessor Fackson Banda opened the 2007 Digital Citizen Indaba. This is turning out to be an annual blogging conference. He welcomed everyone and introduced the keynote speaker, Ndesanjo Macha. Ndesanjo is a blogger, journalist, lawyer and digital activist. He is the sub-Saharan Africa editor of Global Voices. He runs Jikomboe, a kiSwahili blog, and Digital Africa. He is a newspaper columnist for the Tanzanian newspaper MwananchiHe’s opening was so powerful: you can’t tell stories if you can’t explain things to your mother or your grandmother. And there is a great quote from Steve Biko, “I write what I like” in honour of the anniversary of his death next week.


Digital Citizens Indaba 2007 opens this Sunday

Tomorrow I will be flying to Port Elizabeth for the 2nd time in just under a month. This flight has been booked by the gracious hosts from the Journalism and Media studies department at Rhodes University, who are the organisers of this conference as well as the annual Highway Africa conference. Sadly I will not have time to visit family and friends in Uitenhage because we’re all going directly to Grahamstown for the opening drinks on Saturday evening.

This is the updated programme for DCI 07. Please note that it is subject to change.

The main conference will be held at the Barratt Complex in Prince Alfred Street on Rhodes University campus.Registration will take place in the foyer of the African Media Matrix building on Rhodes University campus. Click here for a map.


Registration opens in the African Media Matrix building, Rhodes Campus.
6pm: Please join us for welcoming drinks at Olde 65 in New Street, Grahamstown.


8-9am: Registration in the AMM building, Rhodes campus

9-10am: Opening and keynote address
– Opening by Prof Fackson Banda (Acting Head School of Journalism and Media Studies, RU)
– Keynote address: Emergence of the Digital Citizen – Ndesanjo Macha (Blogger and writer, Tanzania)

10-11.30am: Fractured Identities — the African Blogosphere
Nixon Nyikadzino (Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe)
Daudi Were (Kenyan Blogs Webring, Kenya)
Ansbert Ngurumo (Kiswahili blogger, Tanzania)

11.30-11.45am Tea at Barratt Complex

12-1pm Why I Blog (and Things that Happen Because I Do)
Bob Sankofa (Photoblogger, Tanzania)
Remmy Nweke (Blogger, Nigeria)
Khaya Dlanga (YouTube Vlogger, South Africa)

1-2pm Lunch at Nelson Mandela Dining Hall, Rhodes campus

2-3pm Challenges of Content: The South African Experience
Riaan Wolmarans (Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa)
Renee Moodie (Independent Online, South Africa)
Carly Ritz (The Times, South Africa)
DeWaal Steyn (Die Burger, South Africa)

2-3pm Challenges of Content: The African Perspective
Ore Somolu (APC, Nigeria)
Elles van Gelder (AfricaNews & Voices of Africa, The Netherlands)
Anna Badimo (LinuxChix, South Africa)

3-3.15pm Tea at Barratt Complex

3.15-4.30pm Money and Marketing
Laurian Clemence (Wibble, South Africa)
Matthew Buckland (M&G Online, Online Publishers Association, South Africa)
Ramon Thomas (NETucation, South Africa)

3.15-4.30pm Cyberactivism & Legal Lessons
Guy Berger (School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa)
– Habtamu Dugo (Ethiopia/ Blogger)
Brenda Burrell (Kubatana, Zimbabwe)

4.30-5.30pm Web 2.0 and the Media
Vincent Maher (Amatomu, M&G Online, South Africa)
Mohamed Nanabhay (Al Jazeera, Qatar)

The Digital Citizens Indaba blog has been dead since the last conference and I’m hoping that they will follow in the footsteps of the TED blog which has been posting updates on the progress of the speakers and TED Fellows since TEDGlobal 2007.


WWW2007 – Keynote – Dr Chris Kotze FNB Online Banking in South Africa

Dr Chris Kotze, CEO of FNB Online, opened the 2nd day of the World Wide Web Applications Conference.

He described online banking as the baby of the channels, mobile banking an even younger. More than 150, 000 “banking” users daily. 12-15K new users every month. 35 million transactions monthly. So the Internet is moving R90 billion per month. 150,000 new products sales per annum. Almost 1 million visits per week. When Internet banking falls over, the rest of the bank cannot cope.

Number of positive drivers of online banking usage is starting to outweigh the negatives. For corporates the #1 most important feature is security, followed by availability and performance. Rural areas have more bandwidth constraints than metropolitan areas.

The Internet starting to take a bigger percentage of the channel mix. By 2025 online banking could account for 80% of transactions. Corporates already at higher level. There is expectation by 2025 about 75% of service will be available online.

The Impact on First National Bank (FNB):

  • Has to become a global 24/7/365 business
  • Very demanding self-service clients
  • Lower-cost channel options
  • Legacy systems, security and data issues
  • Fraud challenges (phishing)
  • 3rd party dependencies and joint-ventures
  • New competitors
  • “Different” workforce and competencies

Chris ended off with a quote from Charles Schwab on how the Internet has changed it’s business. And for Charles Schwab it has not changed business but enhanced it. For FNB it has changed their business fundamentally. In the Q&A a question was asked about mobile banking users. Turns out FNB has more than 500,000 mobile baking users. There’s a big overlap between them and the online banking users i.e. they tend to be the same people or as Chris Kotze said they co-exist. So there is still a long way to go in getting the unbanked into the banking system.
For more on Chris Kotze read this interview on Personal Finance website.


Keynote – Dr Pravin Gordhan: SARS and the Web

Dr Pravin GordhanDr Pravin Gordhan, commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) opened the WWW2007 conference with a keynote on SARS and the Web. More generally how government is using technology to alleviate poverty, create jobs. He asked many questions like:

  • What the impact of technology is on poverty?
  • Does it empower ordinary people?

We have huge asymmetry in the population who have very good access and the lower income groups who have poor access to technology. Even just access for to Government information is out of reach of large chunks of the population. The digital divide is not spoken about much any more but it is still there.

Another important question he asked continuously is how SARS can use technology to lower the cost of compliance and increase the incentive. Back in 1998 SARS collected about R188 billion and this year is on track to collect about R558 Billion. This will be a surplus for the first time ever in the history of post-Apartheid South Africa.

So the goal of SARS when rolling out technologies like their e-Filing solution is first to continuously improve the service proposition. Second is to educate South Africans about their obligations. The 3rd is to have a very decernable enforcement policy. This was a wonderful insight into the workings of one of the most efficient government agencies.

You may also be interested in this detailed interview of Commissioner Pravin Gordhan with Business Report from 2004 after the elections.