Friday, June 13th – Day 1
Just checked into the Courtyard Rosebank Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. Tarik, Suro & I were the first 3 team members to arrive and greeted by one of our hosts, John. It was a nice surprise to be greeted at the by these 3 dolls in my room once we arrived at the Courtyard Rosebank hotel.. The adventures begin! Saturday June 14th – Day 2
On Saturday morning we headed to the IBM South Africa office based in Johannesburg (Jo-burg) and had an opportunity to take a team photo with our IBM South Africa team and hosts. Our in-country leader is from the Digital Opportunity Trust organization, Muriuki Mureithi. Muriuki is responsible for engaging and managing the overall Client relationship with local South Africa team members, iNesi (our client), IBM South Africa and the North West University where we will be working for the duration of our assignment. We met our IBM South Africa team which included Corporate Citizens Manager, Sydney Hadebe, Abraham Thomas, Country General Mgr. Angie Raseroka, Marketing & Communications Leader, and Yolanda Wilke, Sec Leader to discuss the strategy of IBM South Africa and understanding Clients at an overall local level.
From IBM we headed back to the Courtyard Rosebank hotel to re-group and then dedicated the balance of our day to understanding the history and culture of South Africa. We started with a tour of the Museum of Apartheid which was dedicated to illustrating apartheid and the 20th century history of South Africa. Photography was prohibited in the museum but where permitted, here are some photos:
From there we proceeded to city of Soweto (a suburb of Johannesburg) to visit the “MEMORIAL Acre”, housing the June 16th Memorial and Youth Institute where the The Soweto Uprising (also known as “16 June”) occurred where a series of protests led by high school students in South Africa began on the morning of 16 June 1976. Commemorated over 30 years later as Youth Day, an official National holiday, it is the day that honours the deaths of hundreds of Soweto schoolchildren, a day that changed the course of the South Africa’s history.
From here we visited Nelson Mandela’s home. The Nelson Mandela National Museum, commonly referred to as Mandela House, is the house on Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela lived from 1946 to 1962. It is located at number 8115, at the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets, a short distance up the road from Tutu House, the home of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. After Nelson Mandela was released from prison he returned to his home.
For dinner the team joined our client, iNesi, at Nelson Mandela Square to enjoy wonderful India food at Bukhara restaurant.
Sunday June 15th – Day 3
On Sunday morning we conducted our first meeting with our client, iNesi, followed by a team work session for the balance of the day. Our team is comprised of 14 IBMers from 9 different countries who are focused on a project that will drive e-literacy to 10 million South African people in the next 5 years meeting an overal 2030 target to improve life of all South Africans. We created our Client presentation in preparation for our first official client presentation at North West University in Mafikeng on Tuesday. For dinner the team ate locally at the Rosebank mall located directly across the street from the Rosebank Courtyard hotel where we were staying. The majority of the team enjoyed South African meat dishes which is the best in the continent.
Monday June 16th – Day 4
Good bye Jo-burg! Hello Mafeking, South Africa! Today we travelled 300 km from Jo-burg to Mafeking where our IBM team of 14 will be based for the next 4 weeks on assignment at North West University. We spotted giraffe’s roaming fields and many cows and sheep. We stopped in a small town along the way for a quick rest and then continued to our final destination in Mafeking. We gathered and met Professor Modise Maaga who will be our leader from North West University and our Digital Opportunity Trust leader, Muriuki Mureithi.
Tuesday June 17th – Day 5
Our CSC group of 14 has been divided into 4 teams and today we presented our Statement of Work to our client iNesi, Professor “‘Mymoena Sharif'”, “‘Harold Wesso'” our client and the University Council members. After a day of presentations we concluded with a surprise birthday party dinner for one of our team members, Valentina Salapura. Valentina is an IBM Research Scientist and Inventor based out of the IBM Watson Research Lab based in Yorktown Heights, New York and is recognized for achieving 130+ IBM patents. I am honoured to be working with Valentina and to have her part of our South Africa team. Back to the birthday party—yes, a great time was enjoyed by all and Valentina said this was one of her best birthday parties ever! We have a few more birthdays coming up on the team so stay tuned for more surprises and fun!
Wednesday June 18 – Day 6
We reconvened 9 am at North West University and met our newest team member who is a Masters Sociology student at North West University, Kebiditswe Mampe (Kebiditswe means “ I am cold” in Setswana). Kebiditswe will be a key team member and work with us to begin defining the solution of our project. In the evening we were hosted by the incoming Head of Tourism and Provincial Government officials and had the opportunity to dine with them. The Head of Tourism provided very interesting “Did You Know” factoids opening ceremony which was enjoyed by all as we learned a lot about Mafeking. In addition, we had the opportunity to meet Lebohang Morake known as “Lebo M” and what is interesting about him is that his voice is the first voice heard in Disney’s film, Lion King in which he is singing the now-famous “Nants Ingonyama” chant in Zulu (often considered synonymous with the film’s image in popular culture) over the opening sequence. http://lionking.wikia.com/wiki/Lebo_M
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