The finish line…….Goodbye South Africa & Thank you for your kindness & hospitality!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Day 26

Today our team presented the first phase of our project with many government and university officials present.  The proposal was well-received and we are quickly finishing the remainder of our project proposals.  This evening the IBM team hosted a farewell dinner with our University team members and students.  We all enjoyed an authentic South African meal at the Hotel School restaurant.  This restaurant is operated in a hotel that houses students who are enrolled in Hospitality & Culinary training courses and the restaurant is where they have the ability to cook and present their creations to the public.  Everything was outstanding!

 

Goodbye Kebiditswe!  This is our team, Katy, Chandra, Effie and the student assigned to us from North West University to assist us with our project & final proposal.  Thank you for all your work Kebiditswe!

Goodbye Kebiditswe! This is our team, Katy, Chandra, Effie and the student assigned to us from North West University to assist us with our project & final proposal. Thank you for all your work Kebiditswe!

 

Team photo at farewell dinner

Team photo at farewell dinner

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Day 27

Today is our travel day back from Mafikeng to where we began our journey, Jo-burg.  Enroute the team stopped at the Cradle of Humankind to enjoy crawling & climbing through caves to see evidence of the first human fossils.  It was a wonderful sight and a great challenge to complete the cave adventure.  The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999, about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. 

Fun in the caves

Fun in the caves

Within the caves, scientists have discovered many hominid and other animal fossils, dating back more than 4-million years, to the birth of humanity. The most important and most famous of these fossils are “Mrs Ples”, a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus skull, and “Little Foot”, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton that is more than 3-million years old. These fossils, both found in the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind, tell us much about the precursors of modern humans, Homo sapiens. Archaeological finds within the Cradle of Humankind also include 2-million-year-old stone tools. The oldest recorded, at Swartkrans, near the Sterkfontein Caves, is a collection of 270 burnt bones that reveals how our ancestors learned to master fire more than 1-million years ago – a significant development and an early technological innovation. The ability to do this has taken us from the basic skills needed to keep ourselves warm and to cook our food, to being able to control and harness the power of fire to the extent that we can now create and burn rocket fuel to reach space and beyond.

 Cradle

Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Day 28

Today we presented to our Client, iNeSI.  It was well received and the IBM South Africa Team 12 did stand a proud moment with all 14 member accomplishing a fine project deliverable.

#ibmcsc 

 

Our last weekend in Mafikeng as our journey comes to a close…

Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Day 23

Sunrise on our way the Elephant Sanctuary

Sunrise on our way the Elephant Sanctuary

Saturday morning at 6 am we were bound for  Hartbeespoort where the Elephant Sanctuary and Chameleon African Craft Village is located.  We arrived early so we had the opportunity to see the Hartbeespoort dam.  It was beautiful!

                                                                                                                  Tunneling through the mountain to see Hartbeespoort dam                                                                                                              July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 035July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 031

Up and close with the "Ele's"

Up and close with the “Ele’s”

Ele's

Our friend Paola was slapped with an "Ele" kiss and this is what she ended up with!

Our friend Paola was slapped with an “Ele” kiss and this is what she ended up with!

We then proceeded to the African open market and enjoyed some fine Indian food.  The top centre dish is Bunny chicken, bottom centre is butter chicken and 2 rice dishes spiced up very differently.

July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 298

July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 303

July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 308 July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 311 July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 307 July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 306 July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 305

 

And if you are wondering if we shopped, indeed we did!  Our driver Styles was impressed with what we accomplished over the course of 2 hour shopping spree!

Styles was our driver for the day.  The trip from Mafikeng to  Hartbeespoort Dam where we visited the Elephant Sanctuary and the Chameleon Village Craft Market was just under a 3 hour drive.  Styles preferred to chill & relax while we shopped.  During the drive Styles taught us some Zulu and we can all now say 'Yes' YEBO and "Hello" SAWUBONA!

Styles was our driver for the day. The trip from Mafikeng to Hartbeespoort Dam where we visited the Elephant Sanctuary and the Chameleon Village Craft Market was just under a 3 hour drive. Styles preferred to chill & relax while we shopped. During the drive Styles taught us some Zulu and we can all now say ‘Yes’ YEBO and “Hello” SAWUBONA!

Sunday, July 6, 2014 – Day 24

Sunday morning the team decided to enter the Mafikeng Golf Tournament Fundraiser for Kids with Cancer.  Fun was had by all especially those of us who were first time golfers.  There were many Waterbuck roaming across the golf course throughout the day and that was interesting sight to see while trying to stay focused on the ball.  Waterbuck are a very large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa.

Here is the Waterbuck that we ran into continuously while golfing.

Here is the Waterbuck that we ran into continuously while golfing.

Effie taking her first swing at it while getting some coaching from Chandra

Effie taking her first swing at it while getting some coaching from Chandra

Monday, July 7, 2014 – Day 25

Back to work at North West University as we approach our final presentation day on Thursday with our client, iNeSI.

Back to work

Back to work

July 5th CSC ele golf photo weekend 151

#ibmcsc southafrica

Effie In South Africa …the last weekend upon us in Mafikeng

Friday, July 4, 2014 –  HAPPY JULY 4th USA!  – Day 22

We have 5 team members from the USA celebrating the July 4th holiday:  Julie, Tarik, Aruna, Katy and Valentina.  Here they are:

Team USA Celebrating Today!

Team USA Celebrating Today!

 

Now, let me introduce you to all 14 team members that are part of South Africa Team 12 (we are the 12th IBM team to run a project in South Africa) since the Corporate Services Corp. program began in 2008.

 

South Africa Team 12 ladies

South Africa Team 12 ladies

More of the girls team!

More of the girls team!

The Gentlemen of the CSC South Africa Team 12 Team

The Gentlemen of the CSC South Africa Team 12 Team

Suro is our mystery man from India

Suro is our mystery man from India

CSC Gentlemen#ibmcsc

Effie in South Africa….the journey is approaching the finish line

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today part of our team hosted a workshop with Government officials and University Faculty heads to test drive some of the options that they are considering as they build the new e-Literacy Collaborative Laboratory (Co-Lab).  There were interesting discussions on some possible “thematic areas”  that this Co-Lab will be responsible for.  The final thematic area that will be determined will be based on what the province’s priorities and the impacts on business and civil society.  The 3 critical issues in South Africa that must be addressed are: Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality.  Some current examples of  ‘thematic areas’ being considered are things like ‘rural’, ‘tourism’, ‘mining’, etc.  The final Co-Lab thematic area will be selected by the team next week and will be based on the ongoing research and analysis work.  This new Co-Lab will be based in Mafikeng, South Africa at the  “North West University” where we are currently based.  There are 6 other Provincial Co-Lab’s currently operating in South Africa today–this will be the lucky #7 that the IBM team has developed.

This is the conference room that we have been working in at North University.  This is the workshop in progress with Government Officials & University Faculty Heads.

This is the conference room that we have been working in at North University. This is the workshop in progress with Government Officials & University Faculty Heads.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Project progress is rapid however we will be breaking for lunch and enjoying local Mafikeng food.  To close out the day, we will be returning to our hotel.  Here is a view from my room overlooking the pools and lounging grounds.

Room 133 - This is where I hang my hat each day.

Room 133 – This is where I hang my hat each day.

The view from Room 133 Mmabatho Palms Casino Resort Hotel, Mafikeng, South Africa

The view from Room 133 Mmabatho Palms Casino Resort Hotel, Mafikeng, South Africa

There are some pretty mature Palm trees on the grounds.

There are some pretty mature Palm trees on the grounds.

Make it a happy day everyone!  Talk soon!

#ibmcsc south africa

 

Effie in Africa…Once upon a time

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Day 19

Happy Birthday Canada!  Will miss being with family & friends celebrating Canada Day!  Today we are busy with more meetings @ North West University with Faculty members.

 

Another great Mafikeng lunch today

Another great Mafikeng lunch today

Here is some safari footage to enjoy: http://youtu.be/Fux2RUA9-AY

Winter Flowers

Winter Flowers

July 1 CSC photos Wouter 028 July 1 CSC photos Wouter 026Today one of our team members is taking it easy–winter flu season in South Africa.

#ibmcsc south africa

Effie in South Africa…The Journey Continues….

IBM South Africa Project team with North West University officials in Mafikeng, South Africa

IBM South Africa Project team with North West University officials in Mafikeng, South Africa

Katy, Chandra, Effie-this is our sub-team and we are responsible for delivering the e-Literacy Monitoring & Evaluation dashboard and Aggregation Framework for our client iNesi

Katy, Chandra, Effie-this is our sub-team and we are responsible for delivering the e-Literacy Monitoring & Evaluation dashboard and Aggregation Framework for our client iNesi

Thursday June 19 – Day 7

Today is our last work session with our client, iNesi, before they return to their HQ operations office in Pretoria. We will be meeting with them in July to present our final project deliverables.  For lunch we enjoyed local Mafeking cuisine arranged by our University host Professor Modise at SABC (South Africa Broadcasting Corporation).

Inside the radio studio & Valentina's live radio interview

Inside the radio studio & Valentina’s live radio interview

After lunch we were given a tour of the Radio station and our very own Valentina Salapura was interviewed airing live.  Can’t forget the food….it was the best hot lunch ever!

This was a very yummy hot lunch featuring local Mafikeng cuisine.

This was a very yummy hot lunch featuring local Mafikeng cuisine.

Friday, June 20 – Day 8

Happy Friday! Its been a very busy first week and our project work is progressing quickly. We met with the Minister of Communications and a Collaborative Laboratory. As the team ramped up for the weekend we decided to spend some time at Madikwe Game Reserve. We checked into the Tau Lodge with 30 huts and Katy & I were assigned to Room 25. Over the 2 days we sighted 4 of Africa’s “Big 5” .  This weekend was a great way to unwind while giving the team an opportunity to get to know each and enjoy each others company.

Katy & Effie - Roomies for the weekend keeping warm in front of the fireplace.  It was a very cold night.

Katy & Effie – Roomies for the weekend keeping warm in front of the fireplace. It was a very cold night.

Saturday, June 21 – Day 9

Our day began at 8:00 am sharp as we prepared for our first game drive with Dylan, our Game Reserve Ranger. Over the course of a few days we followed Cheetahs hunting Zebras, a brown Hyena, Wildebeest, Springbok, Impalas, Lions enjoying their catch of the day (wildebeest), Eland, Kudu and Zebra.

Lions feasting on a successful kill--the Wildebeest special.

Lions feasting on a successful kill–the Wildebeest special.

Zebras everywhere!

Zebras everywhere!

Elephants, peaceful and graceful

Elephants, peaceful and graceful

Our Safari guide was Dylan and  here is the girls group

Our Safari guide was Dylan and here is the girls group

Our team mid-morning in the Bush taking a coffee & tea break.

Our team mid-morning in the Bush taking a coffee & tea break.

Another guest at the Lodge was celebrating her birthday & a traditional South African birthday song and dance was performed by the Tau lodge staff. (Tau = Lion in Tswana a language spoken in South Africa). Lunch was superb and the Chef kindly shared the recipe.

Tea, Coffee anyone?

Tea, Coffee anyone?

Sunday, June 22nd – Day 10

Time to return to base camp in Mafikeng.  A great weekend was had by all.

Lunching @ Tau Lodge overlooking the Bush

Lunching @ Tau Lodge overlooking the Bush

Monday, June 23 – Day 11

On Monday evening we worked all day at North West University and on the way home we stopped in to grocery shop. We also purchased a few birthday cakes as we had 3 birthday celebrations that week.

Tuesday, June 24 – Day 12

Daniel’s Birthday Party! It was Daniels birthday dinner celebration on Tuesday evening, Chandra’s birthday on Wednesday evening and John’s birthday on Friday.

This is Daniel's birthday dinner celebration.   Daniel takes care of navigating all 14 of us to & from North West University each day!  I can say that Daniel is a very patient man!

This is Daniel’s birthday dinner celebration. Daniel takes care of navigating all 14 of us to & from North West University each day! I can say that Daniel is a very patient man!

Wednesday, June 25 – Day 13

Today we worked with children at the Bophelong Special School which opened on March 18, 2010.  The IBM team split up in teams of 2 and we spent time with our kids.  My team mate was Leigh and we played a game of soccer with older boys.  Later we retreated into the classroom for some fun language lessons & art.

My partner Leigh, what a great soccer player!

My partner Leigh, what a great soccer player!

Professor Modise greeting the children and introducing the IBM team. The children's spirit was sparkling.

Professor Modise greeting the children and introducing the IBM team. The children’s spirit was sparkling.

Katy & Suro organizing the IBM team at the school! Great job!

Katy & Suro organizing the IBM team at the school! Great job!

Later in the evening we celebrated Our “Aussie” good friend Chandra’s birthday & the team hosted a surprise vegetarian birthday dinner at the hotel. Good times were had by all and Chandra most enjoyed wearing the princess birthday hat we purchased for him!

OOOOpppps! unfortunately Chandra did not wish to wear his princess birthday hat so here we caught him on a serious note.  Happy Birthday Chandra!  You are a true Cracker!

OOOOpppps! unfortunately Chandra did not wish to wear his princess birthday hat so here we caught him on a serious note. Happy Birthday Chandra! You are a true Cracker!

After dinner we engaged in a heads down work session for our 1/2 day North West University student IBM Briefing day.  Valentina, Sanjay & I were the keynote speakers and then we held breakout sessions where the entire IBM team conducted topic specific discussions and where students had the opportunity to ask top of mind questions regarding their Careers, Women in Technology, Research & Science.

Thursday, June 26 – Day 14

3 team members were selected to present a ½ day IBM seminar for North West University students briefing them specifically on IBM key strategic technologies, Research and Careers. We had over 120 students attend the seminar which was then followed by breakout workshops where the entire 14 member IBM team conducted discussions on key topic areas. 3 students from North West University were nominated to assist us on our project over the 4 week period—Mmathapelo (aka Thaphi), Bokang and Kebiditswe (aka Adelaide). Kebiditswe was the student assigned to my team and has strong academics and local knowledge to help us progress with the project. Kebiditswe was instrumental in helping with the final distribution of the key presentation materials to all student attendees to complete the session.  Here are our students and future leaders:

Mmathapelo (aka Thaphi) and Kebiditswe (aka Adelaide) Bokang is not present as he is camera shy...stay tuned for a sneak photo soon....

Mmathapelo (aka Thaphi) and Kebiditswe (aka Adelaide) Bokang is not present as he is camera shy…stay tuned for a sneak photo soon….

June 22nd CSC Tau Wouter 150

The team wrapped up the day with a quiet dinner at the hotel.

Friday, June 27 – Day 15

On Friday morning, the entire team was invited to have a Breakfast Meeting with Charles a key local Mafikeng Tourism Representative along with local provincial officials & an Entrepreneur leader who are all supporting a key Entrepreneurial Learning program that is being launched in South Africa.  Much of the discussion was centered around helping South African youth build their own businesses and becoming successful Entrepreneurs. Friday afternoon my team huddled in a work session to prepare for the following week ahead. At that time some decided to stay at the hotel to relax and others decided to venture out to see more of what South Africa had to offer in the wild.

Consider it your lucky day to be in the right place at the right time to see the Milky Way and the Southern Cross .  The month of June in the Southern hemisphere is the right place & the right time to be here to see it all!  It was the first time I ever saw this! Unbelievable!

Consider it your lucky day to be in the right place at the right time to see the Milky Way and the Southern Cross . The month of June in the Southern hemisphere is the right place & the right time to be here to see it all! It was the first time I ever saw this! Unbelievable!

Due to the distance away from our home base we decided to stay the night at the Bakubung Bush Lodge. where we enjoyed further star gazing & viewing the Milky Way Galaxy at its best! We spent time at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, the 4th largest park in South Africa and spotted much wildlife, including the Big Five. Pilanesberg is a melting pot of topographies–which include syenite koppies, forested ravines, bush veld and rolling grasslands and lightly wooded areas–all contained in the crater of an extinct volcano that covers 55,0000 hectares. The Mankwe Dam is the central water feature here where much of wildlife drink.

Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park

The team at Pilanesberg! Cheery & excited to get started!

The team at Pilanesberg! Cheery & excited to get started!

June 29 Buk Lodge 148

Saturday, June 28 – Day 16

We spent time at the Pilanesburg Game Reserve and we also visited Sun City—Africa’s Las Vegas. It was fun and picked up some new friends along the way!

Meeting new friends along the way.

Meeting new friends along the way.

I bumped into the Canada National Gymnastics team and they were competing in the world nationals.  The Canada team had trampoline & tumbling floor athletes competing at Sun City.

Canada National Gymnastics team ready for some competition....and in it to win it!!!!!!!Good Luck Team Canada!

Canada National Gymnastics team ready for some competition….and in it to win it!!!!!!!Good Luck Team Canada!

We spent more time at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and saw many more animals.

The beauty & gentleness of Impala.

The beauty & gentleness of Impala.

Sunday, June 29 – Day 17

On Sunday morning we spent some more time tracking more animals and then ventured back to our home base in Mafikeng. The team huddled on Sunday evening to prepare for a key client meeting at North West University for Monday morning.

African Buffalo

African Buffalo

Monday, June 30 – Day 18

Rise & shine to the T25 workout!  By 6:30 am each day 5 team members including myself start our day with Shaun and his T25 workout program!  Its tough stuff & I hope to have something to show for it in by program completion!  If anything, it helps us get a jump start to our day filled with much energy.  No pictures here….sorry. ‘;-D

Our day in the office was spent in Client meetings & preparing for more meetings with stakeholders.  We are beginning to document our final paper and presentation material for our final Client presentation to be held in Pretoria, South Africa week of July 7th.

Did You Know….

#ibmcsc

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! Last Africa Load on June 19 657Saturday 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.

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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:

ImageImage

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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.

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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.

ImageLast Africa Load on June 19 775Last Africa Load on June 19 773

For dinner the team joined our client, iNesi, at Nelson Mandela Square to enjoy wonderful India food at Bukhara restaurant.

Last Africa Load on June 19 793

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.

It was a hot hot day in wintry south africa

It was a hot hot day in wintry south africa

Taking a break enroute Jo-burg to Mafeking

Taking a break enroute Jo-burg to Mafeking

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!

Happy Birthday Valentina

Happy Birthday Valentina

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

#ibmcsc south africa