Clem Sunter, information and articles from the web:
Portrait of a winning nation:
By Clem Sunter
There I was sitting in my office in December 1989 when the
phone rang. "Hello, this is Sergeant Marais of the South
African Police." "Yes, Sergeant Marais, what can I do for
you?" "There's a prisoner who would like to talk to you." "I
don't know any prisoners." "You know this one." "Really?"
"Nelson Mandela." "You're kidding." "No I'm not." "When
would he like to see me?" "Anytime."
So off I went to Victor Verster in early January 1990. After
entering the prison grounds, I was led to a cottage and,
there on the doorstep, was the great man with a big smile on
his face. He was much slimmer than I imagined from an old
boxing photograph. He ushered me in and we spent the morning
talking about the global economy and the prospects for South
After that, he kindly asked me to stay to lunch and I was on
my way in the early afternoon. He gave me no indication that
he was going to be released in the following month.
Nevertheless, what really interested me was that he wanted
to talk about the future and not in any way about the past.
Specifically, how could South Africa become a winning nation
in a global game that was becoming increasingly competitive?
He even quoted Deng to me: "I don't care if a cat is black
or white as long as it catches mice."
Clem Sunter article continued:
I was reminded of the visit when I recently saw the movie
Invictus about his release and subsequent support for the
Springbok rugby team, culminating in their famous victory in
the World Cup. While some of the rugby scenes were fairly
rudimentary, Clint Eastwood who directed the movie hit the
nail on the head with his theme of reconciliation. You don't
win critical rugby matches without a positive team dynamic
and you don't move up the Premier League of nations without
social harmony among the citizens of the country.
Winning nations and winning rugby teams share a lot in
common. Besides the patriotism and camaraderie, the
individuals making up the team must be chosen for the skills
set that is appropriate for each position in the side.
Education and training are critical for victory as well as
hard work. Knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses, and
the strategy, of your competitors is a prime requirement
too. Moreover, the stadium and other infrastructure need to
be in excellent condition. Above all, the leadership must
understand that if any action undermines the competitiveness
of the team, then the fortunes of the entire team are put at
a disadvantage as well.
Spelt out in simple terms, a better life for all in South
Africa presupposes that we improve our national economic
ranking in the world at large. The bickering and
finger-pointing have to stop and we must focus on raising
the overall quality of our game. We have plenty of pockets
of excellence in all sectors of South African society to
provide inspirational examples. The last thing we should do
is dumb them down. Celebrate excellence. Don't tolerate
mediocrity. That is if you want to catch a lot of mice.
By Clem Sunter