• Friday, April 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

The last mile syndrome (4)

The last mile syndrome (4)

The essence of the “Last Mile Syndrome” [“L M S”] is that whatever would go wrong would occur in the last mile of whatever endeavour or journey we embark upon – be it political, economic, spiritual or otherwise.

However, matters have been compounded by the realisation that this is the age of uncertainty while we are grappling with the demands of democracy along with elections which are imminent.

The new mantra is VUCA – “V” (Vulnerable); “U” (Uncertain); “C” (Complex); and “A” (Ambiguous).

This has not in any way diminished the intensity of the intellectual curiosity and academic zeal of the regular participants at “Africa Week” at Oxford University or Cambridge University.

It is not by pure happenstance that Professor Louise Richardson, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University is an authority on terrorism in her own right:

She has authored the following books:

· Democracy and Counter terrorism: Lessons from the Past (2007)

· What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (2006)

· The Roots of Terrorism (2006)

· When Allies Differ (1996).

As regards “The Last Mile Syndrome”, the protagonists from Oxford University deployed overwhelming historical facts and data alongside algorithms combined with nuggets from classical Greek and Latin.

Separately, I must commend Professor Paul Collier who caused a huge stir (actually a volcano) when he deposed that:

‘What belongs to the Black People of This Country’: South Africans Demand the Return of ‘The Great Star of Africa’ Worth $400M, and Other Treasures ‘Stolen’ By British Monarch.

After 70 years of reigning as the United Kingdom’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest on Sept. 19, 2022 but just minutes after her death was announced on Sept. 8, there were calls for her to return some of the royal family jewels from South Africa.

Two pieces of the largest diamond ever discovered are affixed in the British Sovereign’s Royal Sceptre and the Imperial State Crown.

The Star of Africa, or Cullinan, is a 530-carat fine-quality colourless diamond, the largest cut of its kind in the world. It is mounted in the sceptre and worth an estimated $400 million. The Star of Africa II, or Cullinan II, is 317-carat diamond in the crown. It is unclear how much the second diamond is worth.

Hours before her death, the Twitter account “African Archives” shared a picture of the queen in the Imperial State Crown referencing the bigger diamond also known as “The Great Star of Africa” as “stolen” from South Africa. The tweet went viral and picked up speed after news of Elizabeth II’s death broke.

“We need what’s ours,” wrote Twitter user, @Lxngelo, who lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

The two gems were cut from a 3,106-carat diamond that was found in Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905. It is the largest diamond discovered, weighing 1.33 pounds, according to “History.com”. It was reportedly presented to the reigning British monarch, King Edward VII, Elizabeth II’s great-grandfather, for his birthday in 1907.

The government of a former South African province, Transvaal, reportedly gifted the diamond to Edward VII a year after Britain restored its internal self-government.

Many believed that the full diamond, worth $2 billion by some estimates, was stolen from indigenous South Africans. Transvaal was overwhelmingly Boer, South Africans of Dutch, German, or Huguenot descent. The diamond was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine, a white man who was born in the British colony Cape Colony.

“She wore this a century later in a time when the descendants of those mineworkers live the legacy of that plunder, still earn a pittance and get slaughtered at Marikana for demanding human standards of working and living,” wrote Mikaela Nhondo Erskog, an African educator and researcher.

Two Boer provinces, including Transvaal, fought for their freedom from Britain from 1899 to 1902. The British government says the gift symbolized the healing relationship between the two countries after the wars.

“The British claim that it was given to them as a symbol of friendship and peace yet it was during colonialism. The British then replaced the name ‘The Great Star of Africa’ with the name of Chairman of the Mine ‘Thomas Cullinan,’” Africa Archives wrote.

The royal family has used the scepter in every coronation since 1661. The Imperial State Crown was made for King George VI in 1937 and is worn by the monarch when leaving Westminster Abbey after each coronation and on special occasions, including the opening of parliament. Luis Botha who would become the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, petitioned in 1907 that the diamond be purchased for £150,000, or nearly $173,000, and presented to the British.

The whole diamond was cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones, according to Britannica. The queen also reportedly owned the next two biggest stones in her brooch, known as “Granny Chips.”

During a 1995 visit to South Africa, Black township leaders called on Elizabeth II to return the Great Star of Africa. The Azanian People’s Organization claimed the diamond was “stolen from the treasures of the Azanian (African) soil.”

“She must be reminded that the diamond belongs to the Black people of this country, and to them alone,” said Azapo spokesperson Zithulele Nxawe.

Buckingham Palace replied with a reminder that the diamond was a “gift.”

Although, the U.K. and some parts of the Commonwealth have declared a period of mourning leading up to Elizabeth II’s funeral, many said they could not feel sorrow for the queen’s death in light of her indulgence in the plethora of wealth the royal family accumulated from colonization and never acknowledging the atrocities behind them. Some South Africans are urging King Charles III, Elizabeth II’s successor, to return the jewels.

“We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth, because to us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa’s history. Britain, under the leadership of the royal family, took over control of this territory that would become South Africa in 1795 from Batavian control, and took permanent control of the territory in 1806,” said Economic Freedom Fighters, a pan-Africanist political party in South Africa, in a statement.

“From that moment onwards, native people of this land have never known peace, nor have they ever enjoyed the fruits of the riches of this land, riches which were and still are utilized for the enrichment of the British royal family and those who look like them.”

What was most remarkable was that the contribution of the scholars from Cambridge University was largely anchored on the work of late Professor Edward De Bono and his innovative theories on “Lateral Thinking”. It’s impact on Behavioural Science is truly profound :

“You and your team members can learn how to separate thinking into six clear functions and roles. Each thinking role is identified with a colored symbolic “thinking hat.” By mentally wearing and switching “hats,” you can easily focus or redirect thoughts, the conversation, or the meeting.

Table here

Perhaps I should mention the benevolence of Dr. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury who later became the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge University.

Read also: The last mile syndrome (3)

Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, PC, FBA, FRSL, FLSW (born 14 June 1950) is a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet.

He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012. Previously the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales, Williams was the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to be appointed from within the Church of England.

Williams’s primacy was marked by speculation that the Anglican Communion (in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the leading figure) was on the verge of fragmentation over disagreements on contemporary issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Williams worked to keep all sides talking to one another.[1] Notable events during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury include the rejection by a majority of dioceses of his proposed Anglican Covenant and, in the final general synod of his tenure, his unsuccessful attempt to secure a sufficient majority for a measure to allow the appointment of women as bishops in the Church of England.

Having spent much of his earlier career as an academic at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford successively, Williams speaks three languages and reads at least nine.

After standing down as archbishop, Williams took up the position of chancellor of the University of South Wales in 2014 and served as master of Magdalene College, Cambridge between 2013 and 2020. He also delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013.

Justin Welby succeeded Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury on 9 November 2012, being enthroned in March 2013. On 26 December 2012, 10 Downing Street announced Williams’s elevation to the peerage as a life peer, so that he could continue to speak in the House of Lords.

Following the creation of his title on 8 January and its gazetting on 11 January 2013, he was introduced to the temporal benches of the House of Lords as Baron Williams of Oystermouth on 15 January 2013, sitting as a crossbencher.

He retired from the House on 31 August 2020 and from Magdalene College that Autumn, returning to Abergavenny, in his former diocese (Monmouthshire).

What was most remarkable was that even within the Cambridge scholars were the contrarians who insisted that the focus should be on the First Mile rather than the Last Mile.

They repeatedly quoted T. S. Eliot (1888 to 1965)

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. As one phase ends today and another begins, may there be many more beginning.”