out of the car on the highway in King Williams Town, nature was calling.
As there was no toilet on the highway, I left my travelling bag on the
highway and went into the bush to do what needed to be done. When returning
to the highway, a van was already waiting for me. The driver gave me
a ride to East London.
East London does neither deserved to be called beautiful nor a tourist
attraction, it is quite a nice city. What makes it quite nice is probably
that it is rather low key. I spent a few days there. Because I had managed
already to hitchhike from Cape Town in the Western Cape to East London
in the Eastern Cape, I was being filled with a little buzz. It is moreover
quite enjoyable to stagger along the Esplanade in East London, where one
can watch the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing onto the beach. If my
memory does not completely fail me, Donald Woods is originally from East
London. Donald Woods was in the Apartheid era a well respected journalist
in East London. After getting to know Steve Biko - a black opponent to
the Apartheid regime - Donald Woods was gradually transformed into an opponent
to the old regime. As a result, he wrote and published the book “Cry
Freedom”, which did not amuse the then ruling National Party. However,
that was then, and now is now.
Quite a few
people in East London talked me into taking a huge detour via Bloemfontein
through the Orange Free State. The alternative was to go through the Transkei,
then an independent homeland, out of which APLA operated, the military
wing of the PAC. The PAC was a smaller and a bunch more radical black liberation
movement than the ANC. While trying to get a ride to Bloemfontein on
a Saturday morning, the owner of a sausage factory picked me up. He was
on the way to Queenstown, about two hours north of East London. When I
told him what I was in the process of doing, he took me a little by surprise.
One of his sales representatives was going to Pietermaritzburg - the capital
of Kwazulu Natal - the following Monday morning. He was sure that
his sales representative was more than happy about some company while going
through the Transkei. For that reason, I spent the weekend with the owner
of the sausage factory and his cronies in Queenstown and met the sales
representative the folowing Monday morning. He turned out to be a former
settler from Rhodesia and was indeed more than happy about my company during
our trip through APLA territory. Whether I would have been of any use in
a clash with the military wing of the PAC is an entirely different story.
Fortunately, it was never necessary to find out. After getting dropped
off in Pietermaritzburg, a couple of hours later on I safely arrived in
Durban. What looked initially almost like mission impossible was all of
a sudden mission accomplished.
Town is like a baby - it is either wet or full of wind - , Durban is tropical.
is located on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is hot and humid throughout
the year. It is the stronghold of the Indian population in South Africa.
Food in Durban is therefore often very spicey. If you are not used to it,
you will need a fire extinguisher.
Thoughts On South Africa
is breathtakingly beautiful. Besides New Zealand, it is the most beautiful
country I have ever been to. But it is rougher and less tamed than the
country of the long white cloud, which is one of New Zealand’s nicknames.
South Africans are very friendly and hospitable. It is definitely worth
visiting the country and spending some time there. It is a one of a kind
experience, which you will never forget. Do not be detered by headlines
about crime there. Just practice some common sense.
writer Ben Okri said in his collection of essays “A Way of Being Free”:
“If the poet speaks only of narrow things….then what hope is there for
any of us in the world?Those of us who want this are cowards, in flesh
and in spirit. We fear heroic heights”.
concept to life in general. Do not be a coward. Do not chicken out. Get
out of your comfort zone. It is worth giving it a go. You will never be
on Auckland and New Zealand
knows at least a little about German soccer agrees on who the most outstanding
character in German soccer is - Franz Beckenbauer. As a player, he won
the German championship and the German Cup competition, the European championship
and the World Cup. As a coach, he won the World Cup as well. He won the
World Cup twice, as a player and a coach. But I won the soccer tournament
at ITESM, campus Colima!
after finishing his career as a player in Germany, he spent about five
years in New York. Later on, after returning to Germany, he made the remark
that these five years in “gringolandia” had been tremendously important
to his personal growth. He pointed out that five years is the minimum period
of time for a stay in a foreign country to truly benefit from it. Based
on my own experience, I could hardly agree more with him. You may be tempted
to ask now: “Good, but what is the point of all this”? Quite simple.
The only country so far outside my home country where I have spent more
than five years is New Zealand. Most of my time there, I lived and worked
in Auckland. Let us have a look at Auckland and New Zealand.
Now And Then
is no longer what it used to be. Until 1984, it virtually deserved to be
called the “Poland of the Pacific”. It was one of the most regulated economies
in the developed world. The country suffered from enormous budget- and
current account deficits. Inflation was prevented by price controls. Trade
barriers protected inefficient companies from competition.
All this changed
in 1984 when Roger Douglas became finance minister of the Labour government.
the course of “Rogernomics” financial markets were deregulated, trade tariffs
were slashed, subsidies eliminated and a bunch of government activities
privatized. When the National government took office in 1990, the new finance
minister Ruth Richardson continued with the economic reforms. A significant
feature of “Ruthanasia” was that wage bargaining was decentralized. Employment
contracts were individually negotiated. During these economic reforms,
the Reserve Bank gained independence for monetary policy. Moreover, budgetary
discipline was imposed to make governments more accountable for future
implications of their policies.
a Labour - led government has reversed some of these reforms, Godzone -
which is one of New Zealand’s nicknames - is most unlikely to be ever again
the “Poland of the Pacific”. In the meantime, even the Polish Poland has
I do not have much sympathy for politicians. They are usually fond of playing
big shot with other people’s money. Even worse, many of them lack experience
in the real world. However, as often in life, there are rules, and there
are exceptions to the rules. I do tend to the assumption that Roger Douglas
and Ruth Richardson are two of these exceptions among politicians. As Rupert
Darwall put it in the New Zealand Business Herald: “Both share an idea
of the citizen - politician who solves the problems of their country
as best they can and quits once they haven given of their best”. Roger
Douglas once advised: “Ask yourself why you’re in politics. My view is
that it is better to be in politics for three years and so something, than
to be there for twenty years and do nothing”.
In the course
of these reforms, the land of the long white cloud - another nickname for
New Zealand - has been truly transformed. Auckland makes a striking example
of this transformation. While Auckland is the biggest city as well as the
financial and commercial hub of the country, the much smaller Wellington
is the capital. Some residential areas and the hilly streets in Wellington
remind me a little of San Francisco. Auckland, on the other hand, reminds
me a little of Portland, Oregon. Some streets in the city center - as in
Portland - are a little hilly but by far not as steep as in San Francisco
virtually surrounded by the South Pacific and is covered in volcanic hills.
first nickname of Auckland is the “City of Sails”. Just have a look
at its spectacular harbour with all the yachts there and you know why.
Auckland’s second nickname is the “capital of Polynesia”. It attracts
loads of people from the islands in the South Pacific. There is the largest
concentration of Polynesians in the world.
Auckland is very spread out in terms of geographical size, the city center
is rather compact. Many of the high rise buildings there have been created
in the last twenty years. During the day, the city center is vibrant and
buzzing. There is a bunch more buzz than in comparable German cities.
The significant Asian and Polynesian populations as well as quite a bunch
of ethnic restaurants contribute to the vibrancy. In a nutshell, Auckland
in summer is great. Because of the sometimes unbelievable rain there
in winter, I hesitate to repeat the statement. Spend a week in Auckland
in winter and you understand why umbrellas in New Zealand are a lot bigger
than anywhere else.
place in the whole of New Zealand is virtually “round the corner” from
Auckland. It is Waiheke Island and it takes about half an hour by ferry
from Auckland to get there. Waiheke Island is located almost right in the
middle between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula. When you live and
work in Auckland and feel like leaving the big city life behind you for
an extended weekend or a week, Waiheke Island is the place to be.
could hardly be more different to life in the City of Sails. The island
is peaceful and quiet, clean and unspoiled. More or less seven thousand
people live there. Many of them commute every day. They live on Waiheke
Island. But they work in Auckland. Depending on where you live in Auckland,
getting from your home to your office by car may take you up to an hour.
you live on Waiheke Island, the ferry ride takes you about half an hour.
You do not get stuck in traffic jams. Instead, you thoroughly enjoy the
estate prices on Waiheke Island have been skyrocketing during the last
ten or fifteen years. It does not matter. Wise people buy real estate
when “there is blood running in the street”. Be a contrarian. Do not
follow the crowd. Even if you cannot afford to buy property on the island,
you can afford to recharge your batteries there. In case you feel like
recharging your batteries on Waiheke Island, if possible do yourself a
favour. Wait until the main tourist onslaught in New Zealand - both nationally
and internationally - is over. The main tourist season in the land
of the long white cloud starts at the beginning of December and ends at
the end of January. God instead at the end of February or March. The weather
is still quite good. But “every Dick and Harry” is gone.
In New Zealand
of the little outline above is primarily to give the reader an idea about
the turf where I lived and worked in the second half of the 1990’s until
2001. Let us continue now with my employment in Auckland and my notions
on this sort of thing.
in Auckland, I had worked as a law clerk, assistant and junior associate
for law and consulting firms in Dusseldorf, Miami and Johannesburg. My
supervisors told me what to do. There had not been a bunch of scope
to deviate and to think on my feet. However, as a result of “Rogernomics”
and “Ruthanasia” the business environment including the employment market
in New Zealand is quite deregulated. Fixed term contracts, contract work
and executive leasing has become there in the course of time rather the
rule than the exception. That sort of environment would lead to quite
a cultural shock among German civil servants.
development role there revolved around generating new business from small
and medium sized companies. It was a vertical learning curve. I just had
to learn to fly. When I can learn it, so can others. That experience
has completely changed my perspective on employment. In a nutshell, a lot
more important than the money that you make are the skills that you can
develop. While developing sales and marketing skills - especially in a
business to business environment - your communication skills are getting
very honed. When you are originally rather timid and shy, you are gradually
transformed into someone with backbone. You learn to stand your ground.
It is rather amazing how I can use now in the classroom with students the
communication skills that I could develop in a completely different setting.
After all this,
we get back to where we started. Franz Beckenbauer went through his most
significant growth period in New York. In my humble case, it was in Auckland.
Afterwards, you no longer take yourself too seriously. You get a little
more relaxed. You try to do things effortlessly. Trying to do things effortlessly
is better for your nonchalance.
Latin American writer is Mario Vargas Llosa. The writers who most influenced
him were Faulkner and Satre. In his collection of essays “Making Waves”
Mario Vargas Llosa says about Satre: “Satre is a man who has aged well.
Now he is younger, freer and more agreeable than he was at forty or fifty”.
Perhaps people are younger, freer and more agreeable when they no longer
take themselves too seriously and try to do things effortlessly.
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