CC4: We’ve come a long way
I delivered my CC4 last week at the Peninsula Toastmasters Club‘s 30th birthday celebration at the Tafelberg Tavern. I decided to take a little trip down memory lane and look at what the world was like in 1979, when the club was formed. Fortunately it turns out that 1979 was a pretty eventful year, with some nice links to 2009.
The objective of the presentation was to say it well, and concentrate on communication clearly, effectively and using language well.
We’ve come a long way
In 1979 I was four, going on five. The biggest event in my live was going off to nursery school a couple of times a week. It was in a nice leafy Cape Town suburb, there were two cool dogs there, I got to play and paint, and we had cups of Oros at lunchtime.
Life was pretty damn good.
Little did I know I was living in a country where the majority of the population was viciously, irrationally and often violently discriminated against. 30 years ago, we would have all been breaking the law by being at this meeting – how insanely crazy is that?
And if we pan out a little wider, we would see we were living on a planet in 1979 divided in two by a Cold War between two bully nations, America and Russia, slugging it out for global domination in a global playground.
There’s no denying, we’ve come a long way in 30 years!
So in honour of Peninsula Toastmasters’s 30th birthday, let’s hop into a time machine and go visit 1979.
We’ll start by turning on the TV – yes that is Riaan Cruywagen presenting 30 years ago! And his hair hasn’t changed. On the news, we see Prime Minister PW Botha saying that the bright flash over the South Atlantic, picked up by satellite, was categorically not a nuclear explosion, and that Israel and South Africa are definitely not testing nuclear weapons.
The news goes on to talk about Margaret Thatcher, who has just been voted as the first female prime minister of Great Britain. The news does not however, go on to talk about Nelson Mandela, serving his 15th year on Robben Island, and with another 12 years in prison ahead of him.
But now it’s time for sport –Bjorn Bjorg and Martina Navratilova have won Wimbledon this year. Of course Martina had to defect from her native Czechoslovakia in order to play, thanks to the Cold War that has been simmering away for decades.
Now the Cold War wasn’t all bad – we have it to thank for numerous James Bond movies – Moonraker starring Roger Moore was released in 1979. This along with movies like Alien and Star Trek, also released this year, give us in inkling of the paranoia and fear that characterised this period of international politics.
Specifically in 1979 the stage of the Cold War known as détente (or relaxing) came to an end with a hotting up of conflict. In Angola, a bloody civil war had been raging for four years that had sucked in the superpowers as well as South Africa. Back home white South Africans in any case were terrified that a flood of communists would descend on us from the North.
Further afield, 1979 saw Russia invade Afghanistan, starting 10 years of war. Like in Angola, the USA jumped in and supported the rival mujahidin – and we all know what happened a couple decades later when that ticking time bomb exploded.
Next door to Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein takes power in Iraq, and the Ayatollah Khomeini kicks out the Shah of Iran and becomes names himself supreme ruler of the country for the next ten years, setting in place a chain of events leading to the second oil crisis.
But world affairs weren’t all doom and gloom 30 years ago. Idi Amin’s reign of terror, which cost up to 500,000 people their lives, ended in Uganda in 1979. And a power-sharing government in Zimbabwe set the scene for the first democratically elected government the following year.
On the science and technology front, in 1979 small pox became the only disease to be totally wiped off the face of the planet. In 1979 Philips demonstrated CD technology for the first time and Compuserve offered the first email service. The Japanese telephone company NTT launched the first city-wide cellular phone network.
Let’s stay in 1979 for a moment longer. Now bearing in mind I am definitely a “the glass is half full” kind of a girl …. Who would have thought, in 1979 that South Africa would be 15 years into a vibrant, if like most teenagers somewhat temperamental, democracy in 30 years time. The Berlin Wall would be a thing of the past. That tourists would be taking cruises to Russia and visiting Moscow and St Petersburg. That James Bond would still be going strong in the shape of Daniel Craig. And that thanks to email and other ways of communicating online we’d be getting real time reports about the recent election in Iran.
So let’s fast forward 30 years into the future from 2009. I wonder what apparently unsolvable and insurmountable problems that we face today will be a thing of the past in 2039? And what technology will have been invented that hopefully makes our lives easier, not more difficult.
You’ll have to come along to Peninsula’s 60th birthday party to find out from part 2 of this speech.
Naturally I will still be 34.
In the meantime, happy birthday Peninsula – may there be many more.