Africa’s Big Five

I. Lion

Expectant black to watchful grey
Then bleeding streaks of red

A regal roar to break the day –
The pride has killed and fed
A shaggy mane in silhouette
Content to strut and purr

Across the plains of Africa
The wild and wary stir

II. Giraffe

Pink-purple bruises blotch the sky
Then heal to soothing blue

Green feathered leaves, a long lashed eye
Amidst the thorny dew
An outstretched neck with velvet spots
Intent to reach and browse

Acacia trees of Africa
Extend their welcome boughs

III. Rhinoceros

Fierce-fiery eye of golden white
Looks down with withering gaze

Half-blinded beasts escape the light
Their shapes a shimmering haze
A horn-cursed head dips low to charge –
Vain bid to stay alive

Great sanctuaries of Africa
Fight battles to survive

IV. Buffalo

Puce-pregnant clouds to thunder storm
Then swathes of orange blush

A jostling mass of muscled form –
The knot becomes a crush
A head-flick scoop on spear-sharp horns
Inflicts a fatal blow

Migrating herds of Africa
Maintain the ebb and flow

V. Elephant

Dry-dusty sand to muddy pool
Then slurp and splash and spray

A trumpet squeal of blissful cool –
The herd’s come out to play
A flap of ears, a trunk raised high –
It’s time to take roll-call

Wild watering holes of Africa
Quench creatures great and small

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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In Search of Business on the Elephant Trail

In Search of Business on the Elephant Trail

Article by Wayne Visser

In a previous article, I talked about the need for companies to “shapeshift” – to change their underlying natures – from embodying the characteristics of a lion (a competitive, selfish predator) to being more like an elephant (a more cooperative, harmonious creature). This analogy is based on the book I co-authored with Clem Sunter entitled Beyond Reasonable Greed: Why Sustainable Business is a Much Better Idea! (Human & Rousseau Tafelberg, 2002).

The question still remains, however: what does an elephant company look like? Like trying to convince caterpillars that going into a cocoon is a good idea, it helps if we can show the remarkable end result, namely a beautiful butterfly flying free. That is why, in this article, I want to highlight some companies that have already gone a long way down the elephant trail; businesses that have begun transforming themselves into agents of positive change in a world that desperately needs visionary leadership.

There are seven critical areas in which elephant companies distinguish themselves from lion companies, namely: values, vision, work, governance, relationships, communication and services. We will explore each of these themes briefly and give examples of those companies and business leaders that are blazing a trail for others to follow. So, hang on to your whiskers, the shapeshifting is about to begin.

Values: It’s in His Kiss

Values are exactly what they say they are – a reflection of the things we value. In a corporate context, they are not motherhood and apple pie statements in annual reports, or candyfloss principles framed on the boardroom wall. If you want to know what values a lion lives by, the answer lies not in his well-groomed mane or his charming smile; as the rock ‘n roll classic goes: “It’s in his kiss!” In other words, company values are betrayed by the way they behave.

Let’s take the issue of equity in the workplace as an example. It is a fact that the gap between rich and poor has widened in the past fifty years, with three billion people (half the world’s population) still living on less than $2 a day. And yet how many companies look to themselves as one of the sources of this growing inequity? How can it be otherwise when, in 1960, Chief Executives in the United States earned on average 40 times more than the average worker, but by 1990, this factor had gone up to 80 times and today is around 120. Taken to an extreme to illustrate the point, do you know that it would take one Haitian worker producing Disney clothes and dolls 166 years to earn as much as Disney president Michael Eisner earns in one day. In lion companies, the benefits always seem to trickle upwards to feed the fat cats.

By contrast, America’s popular ice-cream chain, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc, chose equity in the workplace was one of their fundamental values. Importantly, it didn’t stop with words, but rather translated into action. The inspirational founders of Ben & Jerry’s insisted on a top to bottom salary …

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Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/business-frontiers”]Page[/button] Business Frontiers (book)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2003) In Search of Business on the Elephant Trail. Namaste, Volume 21, July/August.

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