"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
As I seek to learn as much as I can about the countries in the continent in which I will be working for the rest of my naval career, I am always eager to learn what the people in the different African nations are reading. No doubt, this is due to my roots as an English major and also my granite belief that an appreciation for the poetry and literature of a nation are essential to understanding it.
So I was pleased to come across this link to the “short list” for South Africa’s annual Alan Paton Award (best non-fiction). Alan Paton is the author of Cry, Beloved Country, a book that I haven’t read yet but one that I am adding to my Amazon.com wishlist.
One of the authors on the ‘shortlist’ is Jay Naidoo who wrote: Fighting for Justice
He wrote a short article in South Africa’s Times Live (that I’ve provided below) entitled:
What I'm Reading: Jay Naidoo
Jay Naidoo is chairperson of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and founder of the social development arm of J&JGroup. He has recently published his autobiography Fighting for Justice and publishes a blog at www.thejustcause.org.
I'm re-reading Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom - an excellent reminder of the values that we fought for, fearlessly inspired by the dream of a nonracial, nonsexist and democratic South Africa. Today we struggle to live up to the values espoused by our founding leaders - ethics such as selfless service, humility, integrity, honesty and social solidarity.
I recently finished Birth by Peter Harris, a gripping account of the turbulent days preceding the first democratic elections in 1994. What a knife edge we were on, and how wise was the leadership that was able to unify a vision of the future and draw discordant parties into the democratic process that prevented the unleashing of civil war in the country.
It's Our Turn to Eat by Michaela Wrong recounts the story of John Githongo, who as part of the anti-corruption agency of the Kenyan government, uncovered widespread corruption. This is a must-read for South Africans.
The company recently bought me an iPad as one way to reduce my carbon footprint. Now I look forward to having the books of the world at my fingertips.