Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When "Freedom" translates into "Public Theft"...

Robben Island as viewed from Table Mountain. T...Image via Wikipedia
On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa. For his 90th birthday on 18 July 2008, we celebrated at Uthango in virtual style and spent real time thinking what it means "to be free".

Ironically, the rumors about the mismanagement of funds by the Robben Island-based Mandela Museum surfaced again the same time, with CBS reporting: "The museum received $5 million in government funding this year, an amount Langa would like to see tripled. But two executives were suspended last year after the museum reported an unexplained deficit of $3.2 million. Government arts and culture minister Pallo Jordan says an audit uncovered "shocking mismanagement."

I wrote from the Mandela celebrations on the Africa in Virtual Worlds website:

"How DO we measure the value of people? The man we honor, said once: “We accord a person dignity by assuming that they are good, that they share the human qualities we ascribe to ourselves”. For a variety of reasons, we have not been able to (yet) build the Robben Island that we see each day in our actual Cape Town, here in South Africa. The place of which Mandela wrote, “I see it as a celebration of the struggle and a symbol of the finest qualities of the human spirit…” However, we HAVE seen the people living in virtual worlds that carry with them the very values that Nelson Mandela defends, the greatest of this being: FREEDOM"Alanagh Recreant, Africa in Virtual Worlds, Feb 1990You should read the whole article. However, the issue troubling me today is: "How 'responsible' executives could so easily, and for so long, manage to cross the boundary between being trusted by the public (having the FREEDOM to manage a public asset) and slowly stealing public funds"? And this disgrace! happening at one of our most important world heritage sites: Robben Island

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