On 8 November 2012, Professor Jonathan Jansen generously joined us in celebrating the launch of a new site in Kimberley.
He highlighted the plight of education in SA, and the Northern Cape specifically, and he looked us in the eye and said: Keep the standard high.
He delivered a really good message:
One of the most important messages for us in the education business was to note that we should expect greater things from South African students. We shouldn’t underestimate them. The professor related a sad story which he shared in his column in the Times that day, about a girl who had the most tragic childhood background, yet – when offered a quality education, truly revealed the extent to which one can transcend poverty, crime, abuse, and the many hardships faced by so many South Africans.
We noticed something valuable about this man
Professor Jonathan Jansen can work a room – by standing in one place. And, when he’s not conversing with one of the many people drawn to him, he’s interacting on Twitter with others commenting on his article published that day.
He is abuzz with people interested in him and his opinions.
So, what is is about this man?
Is it his ability to deliver a good talk well? I think that’s got something to do with it…. but that doesn’t scratch the surface.
Is it his clothes? No – everybody looked very good that night.
Was it his car? No – nobody saw what car he arrived in, nobody followed him out to see either.
Does he play to the crowd? He reads a crowd… but he doesn’t play to them… He had honest criticism for banks, Statistics SA, politicians, government, the private sector, schools & teachers, white people, black people, Christians, and more. – that’s just about the whole room. Yet – while “offending” everybody – he was actually representing everybody’s greater interest, and they knew it.
This is what it is: His Brazen Honesty
We live in a politically, racially charged space in time. Yet, this man – will speak his honest mind, openly, regardless of who’s in the room, with no apparent concern that people would want to challenge on his opinions later.
He has a solid education, so he’s not just rambling out loud about anything for the sake of attention. He has firm values and beliefs that are grounded – and people are drawn to watching him boldly declare them. Further, he declares his views for the sake of other people: South Africans – the downtrodden (and they come from from all backgrounds), and those who feel downtrodden, but simply need to stand up, and start living and stop being victims.
His message is honest and bold. It humbles the power hungry, and empowers the humble and hungry. It awakens the sense that we’re capable of far more, and that we should act accordingly.
What can we learn from the Professor?
If you have solid values and beliefs backed by educated opinion, and you genuinely stand for the greater benefit (not narrow personal pursuits)… share your views and rebukes boldly and make your voice heard.
Will you offend people? Of course, many!
Yet, people will respect that, and come back for more! Not because it’s controversial, or entertaining, but because people love somebody who stands for the truth.