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July 2018

Finish the dish

before the roast is spoilt


he kitchen remains a pretty hot place, regardless whether

it is a


studio or a meeting in the Grain Building.

We always refer to Africa not being a place for sissies. Simi­

larly, South Africa is not really for people who cannot work

in the hot kitchens of our world.

Heat has the ability to warm you: Hot under the collar or warm

when one gets cold and indifferent. However, heat also has the qual­

ity to change the form of an object if the heat is focused on one

spot long enough. Items can melt into one another and form

something new. Maybe that is what we are busy doing: Forming

something new in agriculture?

My Grade 9 teacher also strongly believed in this. My history marks

were not to her taste, so with her excellent tennis forearm, she put

so much heat on my behind that I immediately changed my attitude

towards the subject. Such a process brings changes, but goes hand

in hand with pain.

As I move about the boardrooms of our sector, I sense a great deal

of pain. To a large extent the main topic is the pain of the past.

There are a large variety of plans to treat these pains, but unfor­

tunately, they cause new pains. Once again, I became aware of the

restoration process in our country. Restoration is actions focused

on making something better than it was. Better for whom? one

might ask.

Our focus must be on executing the restoration in such a manner

that we do not have to start all over when one party considers the

matter closed. This way we do not win.

The secret in the kitchen is to finish the dish before the roast is

spoilt. Burnt offerings leave a bad taste in the mouth. It also destroys

the nutritional value of food. The food becomes worthless. I trust

that the leaders on either side of the kitchen discussions will know

when the dish is ready and usable and that they will stop before the

roast is spoilt.

I am also perceiving another thing in our society. There are quite

a lot of people who get tired. Tired as in sick: Physically, but also

psychologically. There is a hunger for good news; something that

works and something that can take the country forward. Good news

that lasts longer than just the next news bulletin about some kind of

disaster or setback that is related with such relish to ensure that you

do not feel too positive.

Those with a support network usually get over it and recover soon,

but where single mothers have to continue alone and/or family are

not close by, it is hard to cope. We all need a support network. I

do not see the temperature in South Africa’s kitchens cooling down

soon and therefore my advice is that you thank those who support

you properly and take good care of them.

During a recent leadership training session, one of the lecturers of

the Grain Academy, Dr René Uys, pointed out that most likely the

single biggest shortcoming in the make-up of producers who partici­

pate in debates and negotiations at national level was the ability to

listen and control personal emotions during meetings.

Our inability to understand the emotions and needs of other

parties, prevents us from influencing the direction of the debate and

to steer it to common ground so that we may find solutions that can

take us forward. Everyone in the country needs the parties partici­

pating in, especially the land debate, to meet one another – to the

benefit of food security and a better future for all.