Wednesday, February 26, 2020
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Ian Walton

You are a Photographer

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Famous National Geographic Photographer, Steve McCurry shows off some of his very special shots in this inspiring short clip about his career. But he also touches on something important that applies to all of us, no matter what keeps us busy day to day.

At 1:19 Steve says “I can’t imagine a better way to spend your life than travelling, and photographing, and just seeing this incredible world that we live in.” A lot of us are jealous of this guy’s life, right? But I want to zoom on this statement for a moment.

travelling” The truth is… we are all travelling (even if you are geographically situated in one place most of the time, you are still travelling through time every day, right?).

photographing” Are you taking photos most days? Why not? Each day is a once-off and something about will be worth freezing in time if you are looking for it. Photography is definitely not just for photographers like Steve. It is for anyone with a camera, a phone or a friend who is happy to share!   Keep one close to your side all the time, Traveller.

seeing this incredible world that we live in”   Do we really try to see it? Do we recognize how fascinating and beautiful this life is? See the world as a photographer and you’ll see more of the world…

So pick up that camera. Get out that phone.   In fact, why not do it now?  You are a Photographer.

#iamseeing

There. I just did! The world. Through my eyes. Right now. I’m calling it #iamseeing. Not an exciting shot, admittedly. But it is authentic, it is mine, and it has just helped me to stop and take a good look before jumping back into this crazy-paced race of life.

Why not send us your own #iamseeing shot here at 1Africa now?   I dare you.

You are a Photographer.

 

Do you see?

He might well be a “good man” in many ways.  He might be your good friend or brother.  Your dedicated work colleague.   A great guy in your soccer team or running club.   He is the Violent Man, though he would never accept this label.   And his wife or girlfriend might want to stay with him – she really loves him, despite what he sometimes does. Or she doesn’t want to break up the family.  Maybe she feels too afraid to leave.  Or maybe she actually can’t because of financial dependence.

But do you see, Violent Man? Do you see what you do? Do you see what hurt and damage you have caused? And do you see the very real danger there is of causing far greater destruction?

When the outer veneer and shows of strength are stripped away, the Violent Man is ultimately a man who is afraid. Fear of failure, fear of disrespect, fear of losing something, fear of shame, fear of loss, fear of not being in control, and so on.  At a very basic level, his destructive words and behaviour are his attempt at dealing with or getting rid of the fear.

As much as we can find psychological and sociological reasons for its occurrence, violence against women and children is always an individual choice. It is never excusable. But all of us men need to stop enabling the Violent Man by being ignorant and indifferent.  We all need to contribute true strength and loving leadership within a culture that too often tolerates and even celebrates violence.   We need to man up.  And inspire and help our brothers around us to do so too.

Will you be counted as one among us?

Where did all the good men go?

A recent book by  Guy Garcia, emotively titled The Decline Of Men states ‘At the dawn of the 21st century, men are not just the weaker sex, they are also fast on their way to becoming poorer, dumber, sicker, lonelier. More marginal, more unnecessary, less loved.’  Wow.  Really?

I don’t agree with this assessment at all.  In fact, I kind of feel like punching the Guy (I’m a man, you see).  And yet, none of us can deny that scores of men around the world (dare I say, especially in Africa?) are  shameful excuses for the leader, protector, provider and father that men are born to be.

True masculinity is NOT more testosterone, more beer, more loud arrogant behaviour, more sports-watching.  There’s plenty of that to go around.   There’s also no shortage of aggression, selfishness and angry displays of so-called strength.

I think we all know how easy it is to find show-offs, tyrants,  followers, addicts, couch potatoes and abusers among us.  Maybe even within ourselves.  And perhaps most destructive of all – the silent, more hidden destroyers:   secret lust,  lazy compromise, lack of responsibility.   It’s the default behaviour for descendants of Adam, unfortunately. It’s the norm for ordinary men.  Unless we wage war against it in ourselves, it’s what we become.

And so this is where our aggression, our fighting spirit, our anger should be directed.   Your community, your country and your continent needs the leadership of a few good men who are willing to fight against the default, fight against the norm.  Your masculinity, strong and true, speaking to our generation and living out truth, selfless love, and integrity.  Your masculinity, challenging the status quo of society. Standing, with quiet strength, against all that is arrogant and destructive and weak.  Your masculinity, speaking to women with love and understanding, children with affirmation, neighbors with concern and the needy with real solutions.  Your masculinity, challenging the wrong-doing in your own life with authority and determination.

We need men, strong men of conviction, steeped in the Truth, who will wake up and say something profound instead of profane.  Men who do something significant instead of something expected.

We need to man up.  And inspire and help our brothers to do so too.

Will you be counted as one among us?

 

The World Cup Final is Here!

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Four years has passed since Spain won the last World Cup Final in sunny South Africa. Who can forget it?

And now… the world begins counting down the hours again towards what is undoubtedly the biggest spectacle of this beautiful game.   We are about to watch Rio de Janeiro’s Estadio do Maracana pulse with the focussed energy of 22 players and millions of fans as two nations battle for the ultimate prize in world sport.

And every single one of the players on that field will have a story that brought them to this unforgettable point.

This video by Athletes in Action tells the story of how six football heroes of the present and past followed the ball to the ultimate prize – and new life. It features the personal journeys of Kaka of Brazil, Enoh of Cameroon, Mulenga of Zambia, Brad Guzan of the United States, and Cacua of Germany.

 

#thegameoflife2014

So you think you know Africa?

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So you think you know Africa?  Every morning we breathe its air.  We walk around on its strong rugged back.  We fall asleep to its unique sounds and rhythms.  We claim to be its sons and daughters.  But how well do we really know our beautiful, crazy, complicated continent?

Let’s put you through a few tests.

TEST A

Start by going on to this coaxingly titled page: www.youdontknowafrica.com  Here you will get timed to correctly name 20 of Africa’s countries on an interactive map.

This made me feel pretty stupid, actually –  I won’t say how long it took me eventually!   Go ahead – see what time you get…

 

TEST B

Next.  As an African, you’ll be proudly aware that Africa boasts the superlative form of many different things.  A classic easy one, for example, is that Africa has the LONGEST river in the world (The Nile).  Now try these randomly selected ones:

**answers at bottom of page**

  1. Africa has the LARGEST  ____ in the world.
  2. Africa has the HOTTEST ____ in the world.
  3. Africa has the SHORTEST ____  group in the world.
  4. Africa has the TALLEST ____ in the world.
  5. Africa has the SMALLEST  ____ of any continent in the world.
  6. Africa has the SHORTEST _____ of any continent in the world
  7. Africa has the FASTEST ____ in the world.

TEST C

OK, last test to prove your Africanness…  What is your answer to these five Geography trivia questions:

**answers at bottom of page**

  1. How many countries are there in Africa?
  2. Which 2 nations of Africa have never been under a European colonial power?
  3. Why is Africa usually depicted in the center of the world map?
  4. By which decade is the African population expected to reach 2 billion?
  5. Approximately how many languages are used across Africa?

So how did you do?  Perhaps, like me, these pretty basic questions left you feeling like you don’t know as much about this continent as you thought.

The exercise also got me thinking that the same is true for many of us who claim to be children of God.    We believe in Him, pray to Him and ask for His blessing and favour, but we hardly know Him.   He has revealed Himself through the Bible and the life of Jesus and continues to reveal Himself through creation, by His Spirit. Yet, we hardly know Him.

But this was never how He intended it to be!  The Bible says that if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you (James 4:8). Fact is, God wants to be known by us!  The Bible even speaks of how He created us to have relationship with Him and that if we seek Him with all of our heart and soul, we will find Him.

As with so many things in life (including getting to know cool facts about our continent!), if we want to know, we have to really want to know.   It usually involves making a choice to actually seek out and discover the answers we so desire in our lives.  The same applies with knowing God.  By resolving to seek Him you will find Him.  And in finding Him you can start to get to know Him and have the relationship with Him that He always intended for you.

Yes folks, it really is that simple.

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent“.   John 17:3 NIV

THE ANSWERS

TEST B

  1. largest land animal (African elephant) AND largest desert (Sahara)
  2. hottest overall climate of all continents
  3. shortest people group (pygmy)
  4. tallest animal (giraffe)
  5. smallest collective GDP of all continents (2.4% of world total)
  6. shortest coastline of all continents (despite being second largest continent!
  7. fastest land animal (cheetah)

TEST C

  1. There are 54 countries and one “non-self governing territory”, the Western Sahara, in Africa.
  2. Only two African nations have never been under European colonial power: Liberia and Ethiopia.
  3. Africa is the most centrally located of all of the continents with both the prime meridian (0 degrees longitude) and the equator (0 degrees latitude) passing through it.
  4. Africa’s population is estimated to double from approximately one billion people in 2011 to two billion people by 2045.
  5. There are over 1,500 different languages in Africa.

Your Personal Vision for 2014

Like me, some of you reading this hit 2014 running hard.  Short holiday, Christmas chaos, wondering why you bothered staying awake for midnight on the 31st… and suddenly you’re back into normal routine and busyness again.  No time for New Year resolutions, despite the fact that you had vowed to make some last year.  No time for setting some kind of priority list for 2014, even though you do believe in living intentionally.  And you’ll  soon be saying things like “Wow, is it really February already?” as you make a hasty mental note that you really must get the whole goal-setting thing right next year.

But 2015 may not happen for either of us.   Tomorrow is a likelihood, but certainly not guaranteed.  Next year?  A distant hopeful.  There are reminders everywhere that we each have invisible clocks over us ticking towards a very definite end…

But you certainly have TODAY.   And if you’re given enough ‘todays’, you’ll be at the end of another year before you know it.  But when you get there, how will things look?  What is your preferred future?  What is your Personal Vision for 2014?

If you haven’t put one down in writing yet… do it.  Grab a piece of paper, or whatever device you record stuff on, and get something down. It will be something for you  to hold on to and be held to when the days you’re given start getting murky and unfocussed.

Here are 3 important things to try to keep in  mind as we grab a coffee and get started:

  • COMMIT: All my ways and plans seems pure in my eyes, but  the Lord weighs my spirit. OUCH!   Therefore whatever goals and vision I set, as good as they may seem to me… I must commit them to Him constantly (Proverbs 16 v 2 and 3).
  • PROACTIVE: I must set my vision for 2014, and then live it out daily!  Out of CONVICTION rather than CONVENIENCE.  However many days I have entrusted to me  on earth; I want them to be proactive and intentional, rather than haphazard and unfocussed.    I read this recently (not word for word, but it goes something like this):  Proactivity is the ability to subordinate impulse to a value/decision/vision rather than to a circumstance/environment/feeling.
  • ATTITUDE:  “Choosing one’s attitude is the last of the great freedoms” (Victor Frankl wrote and lived this out inside a Nazi concentration camp).  The attitude I choose every day for my work, relationships and circumstances is absolutely KEY to my success and significance  this year.

Helpful?  I hope so.  Challenging?  Very.   Important?  Definitely.

YOUR PERSONAL VISION FOR 2014

‘Fake’ Interpreter or Fake ‘Interpreter’?

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I guess most of you have heard something about what is probably the biggest ‘sideline’ story to the Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg.  Thami Jantjie, the official interpreter on the big day, has become infamous overnight.   His VIP role? Interpreting some of the biggest speeches and speechmakers into sign at one of the most watched events of the decade. Wow! There he was, ‘speaking’ alongside the likes of Ban Ki-moon, Desmond Tutu and President Obama.  Not to mention Mandela’s nearest and dearest.  But what was he saying?  Nobody really seems to know.

This telling press statement was released by the National Director of Deaf SA, Mr Bruno Druchen,  the day after the memorial:  “The so called “interpreter” who interpreted at the Official memorial service for late former president Nelson Mandela at FNB stadium has been dubbed the “fake interpreter” and the Deaf community is in outrage.  This man is not in fact a recognised, professional South Sign Language Interpreter. He is not known by the Deaf Community in South Africa nor by the South African Sign Language interpreters working in the field.   To the best of our knowledge he has not undergone any formal training in South African Sign Language or Interpreting offered by any recognised institution which offers these training courses.”   (Source: Deaf SA Facebook page)

Eish. Despite the fact that this is an insult and a shame for the Deaf around the world, as well as an embarrassment to most Africans who wanted everything about this event to be honouring of our Tata Madiba…perhaps the best response is to focus on the lighter side of the situation.

Thami Jantjie

Credit: Mail and Guardian online

I also had to laugh at this (slightly censored!) tweet posted by a South African who clearly also saw the funny side of the situation.

Thami Jantjie

A local radio station decided to give Mr Jantjie the chance to defend himself live on radio.  And rightly so.  Listening to this, I can’t help think that he would have been better off politely declining the offer.   And maybe he should have done the same when the powers that be invited him to be the official interpreter for the historic Madiba Memorial service!  Listen from about 11:20 to the end

Oh dear.   Maybe we shouldn’t be too harsh on the guy, though.  It must have been a hugely pressurised situation (no kidding), and I don’t pretend to know all the facts involved here.

Nevertheless, there is something deeply disturbing about the fact that without the Deaf community blowing the whistle on this guy, none of us would have been any the wiser.  What else are we being deceived about when it comes to ‘interpretation’ by the media, and government, of the stuff in our world?  Especially when it comes to those who have been given (temporary) authority and power over us.  Jesus challenged Pilate about this very thing just before he was executed:

Thami Jantjie

In a world of fakes and deceptions, Jesus stands as the Truth.  I choose to let Him and His Word be the Interpreters for what this world and its powers throw at me – whether funny or frightening.

 

Learner Parenting 101

This week my child turned two.  Since meeting her 730 days ago, she has set about trying to teach me some Big Lessons.  It’s like God sent her to live with us and made ME her main assignment.  She’s taking her role pretty seriously.

 

LEARNER PARENTING

 

And she’s already driving.  OK, not quite, but I know she’d give it a good go if I left the keys in the ignition and her in the driver’s seat.  I mean, doesn’t her face just say, “C”mon dad – let me try”?

But I won’t, not to worry. Because thanks to this Little Tutor I’ve already learnt important stuff like that.

You see, besides trying to stay awake at work during these first two bleary-eyed years, I have also mastered some fairly crucial baby care tips. Like these:

Do's and-Donts of parenting1

I think I’ve got most of that stuff sorted now, and I am about to enter my Third Year in the University of Practical Parenting. And although I have come a long way, the lessons keep coming thick and fast.  Yes, life with kids is hectic, and it seems this is pretty universal.

Have you seen this video?.  A few year’s ago I would have scorned this kind of trite humour.  Now I’m whistling its tune at 3am while changing another toxic nappy and avoiding lethal kicks to my manly bits.

 

 

Nice job, parent rappers.  How’d you find the energy to come up with that?

But, more seriously – perhaps the most valuable lesson that my daughter has taught me so far is that there is plenty of room for error when it comes to raising kids.    There are millions of moms and dads all over the world just like me, guessing and blundering their way through parenting.   And most kids make it through to adulthood!  I did, and I’m pretty sure my good old mom and dad were about as clueless as me.

Somehow in the Amazing Grace offered by God the Perfect Parent… I can be confident that I have what it takes to raise Liya.  That as long as I stay  engaged in and wholly committed to this “Dad Degree” I signed up for 2 years ago,  she is going to become the princess her Father intended her to be.  And her tired but proud parents will keep learning about Grace and Life and Love all along the way.

I plan to graduate with Honours one day.

 

 

Congratulations! You have won …

Imagine you got a message on your phone now saying that you had won close to a hundred thousand dollars in cash, and that it would be delivered to your door first thing tomorrow.

Yeah, right.  Like me, you would most probably assume that it was just another one of those scams –  you’d shake your head and delete it.  But then…imagine that while you’re having breakfast tomorrow morning there’s a knock at your door.  Two guys from Fedex greet you with a ‘secure delivery’ for which you have to sign a number of papers and prove your identity. As they drive away in their truck, you stare at a cheque for $86000 – made out to you!  There is a covering letter with it, listing the conditions of your incredible prize:

 1.       You can choose to spend the money however you want.

2.       The money cannot be transferred to anyone else, or put in the bank.

3.       All of the money must be spent TODAY – or forfeited forever.

 

Imagine!  How would you handle that situation?  Where you would go to?  How would you spend all the money?  Sheesh, I don’t know what I would do… so many options!  What I do know is that you wouldn’t catch me home watching TV, or sleeping, or worrying about things in the future.  Like you, I would be charging around making sure that I was maximizing the opportunity that I had for that special day!

Today IS a special day.

When it started you had exactly 86400 seconds to spend as you choose.  And the clock is ticking.  You cannot transfer the time to anyone else, nor can you ‘bank it’ for another occasion.  All of that precious time given to you is for TODAY only – once today becomes yesterday, that time is forfeited forever.

The million dollar question:  Are you maximizing the opportunity?

Blue Planet Blues

I don’t need to tell you that the world is a very uneven, unequal place.

Unfair too.   Take a look at this interesting but disturbing  infographic video if you can:

 

 

What a mess!   And how about these shocking facts about the state of our global home:

  • Today, across the world, 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a day;
  • 3 billion people have no access to sanitation and 2 billion people have no access to electricity.
  •  The average ‘blue collar’ worker today earns about $7,50 per hour. The average multinational corporate CEO or MD earns over $1500 per hour.  Over 200 times more!
  • A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water.
  • The GDP of the poorest 48 countries (quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s 3 richest people.
  • At least 15 people starve to death every minute.   Mostly children.  Meanwhile, obesity is rapidly increasing globally.  Currently, over a billion people are overweight.

Sigh.

If you really stare these statistics in the face or surround yourself with the world news, life on our blue planet is pretty depressing and overwhelming.  I’ve realised, though, that luckily we humans have a built in coping mechanism – for the most part, we don’t see much further than our own days and lives.  I guess it protects us from being totally overcome by some of the miseries and pain of this fallen world.   Built in tunnel vision to keep our eyes from seeing anything more than occasional glimpses of the suffering that God must see and feel every day.

The down side of this human attribute is that over time,  we can so easily forget about the kind of situations highlighted above.   Think about it – until now, did you think about or pray for any of those hungry children who are going to starve to death today?   Did you feel compassion for that homeless beggar you probably went past this morning?  I know I didn’t.   It seems that our self-protecting narrow vision makes us pretty narrow minded and selfish too.   We tend to forget about our neighbor (in the broad sense of the word).   As someone who tries to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ, this really concerns me.  He tells me to love my neighbor as myself, yet a lot of the time I am not thinking beyond myself.

Someone once said:

QUOTE 1

 

I believe He will do both in one go when we intentionally broaden our view, lift our eyes and get out there!   More than distant acts of charity… concrete acts of love.  It is too easy for Christians to admire and benefit from knowing Jesus without doing what He said and what He did. We can adore his cross without taking up ours.  We can easily applaud what he preached and stood for… without actually caring for others like He did.   So we have to get out there.

Taking it even further, he says this weird thing towards the end of his life in the book of Matthew:

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Think about that.  Basically, Jesus is asking me to feed him, clothe Him, visit Him and comfort Him.  Whatever smelly or irritating or ungrateful disguise He may be wearing.   Jesus urges us who claim to follow Him to go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless and imprisoned and to love them as we love ourselves.  As challenging as this is, it inspires me to lift my head and face the blues of this planet head on.

KIND TO THE POOR

Over and over, when I feel overwhelmed and ask God why this world is so full of injustice and hardship and lovelessness, I sense him whisper gently back to me,

“Good question.  YOU tell ME why.   You are my body, my hands, my feet and my voice in the world.  And yet…”

We have to get out there.

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