In the sixth of my weekly interviews with interesting people living in and around the idyllic seaside town of Umdloti on South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coast, I asked the Big Five questions of Adapt IT internet boffin (and developer of Durban’s official World Cup 2010 website), Richard McLennan…
FH: You are known as the man behind Adapt IT’s development of Durban’s World Cup 2010 website. How did you get started in internet technology and how did you get to here?
RM: Firstly, I have a very good team of people I work with on The Durban Host City Website, I am just one of the cogs in the machine so to speak. In terms of how I got here, it’s a fairly long story so I’ll keep it short and in point form:
· Raised here on the North Coast in the sunny hamlet of Umhlanga Rocks. After school spent 2 years in the SA Navy as a diver.
· Three years crewing on ‘Superyachts’ in the Med and Caribbean, before returning to SA, completed my Dive Instructor as well as Commercial Diver certifications. Taught Commercial Diving for a year at Durban’s PDI, great job, crap money. Moved on to IMMAC shipping for 6 months as Dive Supervisor, good money, crap job
· After a number of close underwater calls decided enough was enough and thought a career in the IT world looked far more promising… honestly, what’s the worst that can happen when you drive a PC for a living? Completed a Diploma in Visual Basic 5 whilst working as a diver
* Landed a web developer role for a very funky new media agency in London called Wheel where I ran a Development Team, jumped ship to a customer, the wonderful Marks & Spencer. Had an awesome couple of years at M&S helping build their very successful –ecommerce business.
· Headhunted by Monsoon Accessorise to setup their e-commerce business which I ran for 2 years
· After Sarah and I had son Connor in October 2006, we decided in early 2007 it was time to return to SA, work/life balance had become a lot more important to me…
· Three weeks after arriving back in SA, I joined a secret Old Mutual initiative building a new direct insurance and home loan business. Unfortunately, 12 months later we pulled the plug due to the global credit crisis and recession, a real pity as the products would have been groundbreaking for the SA market
· Approached by Adapt IT in Jan 2009 to programme manage the Durban 2010 web project
FH: OK. Straight into the question everybody wants answered! Adapt IT took a lot of flak for the 2010 website which, some said, did not give value for the amount of Durban ratepayers’ money spent on the project… how would you counter that assertion?
RM: It’s funny, everyone has heard of Adapt IT and the Durban 2010 Website, “oh ja, the R6.5 million website, what’s up with that?”
With all the fallout after Ras Dumisani’s Rastafari-style anthem-mangling debacle, may I motivate for the orphans of Indlovu Creche and the members of Youth for Change in Khayelitsha (Western Cape) to sing our beautiful Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika before the rugby international against Italy in Udine on Saturday?
I give you a little taster of what you might expect…
You may cry. It’s OK. I am. Isn’t that just pure beautifulness? And aren’t these kids a little more deserving of the attention that has been handed out to poor old Ras for singing our anthem so diabolically last weekend. I think that they are.
So get to it, rugby unions, embassies, whoever it is who decides on who gets to serenade our rugby boykies into battle. I back the kids of Indlovu Creche to do a truly “SA-positive” job!
* An emotional doff of the red hat to Lindwall Releasing, a South African outreach project for the heads-up on this video
Now that I’m on the right side of 30, I’m finding that it’s often the little things that matter. As in acts of compassion, words of kindness… and gestures of friendship.
So I was quite moved by this little sign that suddenly appeared on the back of the rather miniscule Roman Catholic church in Hermanus (Western Cape, South Africa) after the spanking-new Jewish synagogue was built directly behind it.
Isn't this a nice touch? And so beautifully painted too
I like that. I like it because it’s given me a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling right here in my tummy. And it’s given me that feeling because I sometimes labour under the impression that some religious denominations, especially their institutions, tend to be rather inward-looking and don’t give a hoot about the others.
But here we have the Roman Catholic church reaching out – admittedly around the back, as it were, but what were they to do? – to their Jewish brethren (if that’s the right word).
Nice. I’m so fine with that. And I’m sure that the people at the synagogue are already holding high-level meetings to think up a reciprocal gesture to their new Roman neighbours. I don’t suppose they’ll put up a big “Buongiorno” sign on the front of the synagogue, will they (that’s how Romans greet each other, by the way)? No, that would probably look a tad out of place… but it will be interesting to see what they come up with.
That’s what we need, people. Unity. Not division. Niceness. Warm and fuzzy feelings. Try it. I urge you to reach out today over any divide you may find. Greet people of other religious and cultural affiliations in their language.
For example, if you find yourself in Paris today and you bump into that poor man everybody’s been picking on after getting our national anthem mangled up last Friday, extend a hand of compassion and forgiveness and say: “Yo Ras, one love, mon.” He needs some warm and fuzzy. And so do you. We all do.
* A sweeping doff of the red hat to Christine Muller-Coates for the lovely pic. Thank you, Christine.
Inspiring music has often been used to prepare soldiers for battle. The skirl of bagpipes helped the Scots to believe that they were giants among men in order to repel invasions of their beloved land when, in fact, they were mostly wee laddies drunk on single malts and dressed in tartan skirts. On many memorable occasion in South Africa’s bloodstained history, women would sing their Zulu warriors into conflicts against men unfairly armed with muskets and other firepower. The backing singers gave them the blood-boiling belief that they could swarm down that koppie and see off the strangely-armoured would-be settlers with just spears in their hands and fire in their hearts.
Much the same with today’s international sporting teams and their pre-match anthems. This is why the strategy of France’s rugby warlords to put the Springboks on the back foot even before the match began in Toulouse on Friday night worked such a treat. Napoleon would have been mega-chuffed with the French brains trust who thought of going down to Toulouse’s railway station and hiring a rasta busker to come along to the rugby stadium and totally mangle Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
This had the desired effect of bringing South Africa’s finest rugger players to their knees – in disbelief and utter mirth – before a ball was kicked in anger. Take a deep breath and a groot sluk of your brandy-and-Coke and be reminded of the trauma Commandant John Smit and his troops were forced to endure before the match had even begun…
Wattievok was that, you ask? That, my fellow countrymen, was the equivalent of sending the All Blacks into rugby conflict with a haka performed by a bunch of disjointed midgets dressed in suspenders and stockings and high on ecstasy. Or serenading the Scottish bravehearts into a Highlands rort against the Romans or Sassenachs with my niece on the pennywhistle. Or trying to fuel the Zulus’ lust for colonial blood with some pimply teenager from Pop Idols warbling De la Rey. You get my point. And I hope it’s as sharp as the dagger I would like to drive into the ribs of the malicious monsieur who masterminded that travesty of the South African anthem.
The rasta busker, one Ras Dumisani (originally from Durban but now banned from ever reentering South Africa) was so diabolically discordant and epically out of tune that nearly all of the Springboks almost broke down while he was croaking out the bit about “uit die blou van onse hemel” etc. It reminded me of Peter Sellers blowing into that trumpet on the film set in the opening scenes of The Party. Hilarious. Except he got repeatedly shot.
Did you check Bryan Habana in the vid? He thought he had gone to sleep and woken up in a Monty Python sketch. Only hooker Bismarck du Plessis, an oke who has gone on record as never having laughed at anything in his entire life, kept his eyes closed, clutched his chest and wailed into the night. Come to think of it, he might have been experiencing the onset of a heart attack.
No, this just wasn’t cricket. Or even rugby. When are France next coming over here to play against us? I’m putting my name down to be allowed to sing La Mayonnaise to them before the game. And everybody who heard me throw out Bonnie Tyler’s Lost In France at the Bush Tavern’s karaoke night last week knows that I’m totally the right man to do the job.