Spell It South Africa

  • 144 Peter Road, Ruimsig, Johannesburg
  • Johannesburg

In the book of Genesis, chapter 11 we read an interesting story. More than simply “interesting”, it says that there was a point in time where ‘the whole world had one language and a common speech”. Imagine that!!!

Everyone understanding each other immediately no need for Google translate, dictionaries or interpreters! Everyone immediately knowing what the other person said and able to respond. Everyone able to act together united in understanding and purpose. This was true!

In fact, they were so united in their purpose that God himself says in v6 that “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them”. Wow!!!

Nothing would be impossible! If we spoke the same language. If we all understood each other.

And yet God found fault with them. He ends up giving people different languages and scattering them across the earth. Because they could not understand each other anymore and what they said sound like ‘babbling’, the Tower the were attempting to build is now known as the Tower of Babel.

The reasons for God confusing their languages are debatable. Many would even criticize God’s actions and motives. Personally, I think the evidence in the text is that men were building a Tower in opposition to God. They talked about ‘making a name for ourselves’ and building something that ‘reaches the heavens’ (v4). Sounds like blatant human ambition.

Many thousands of years later another ‘interesting’ event happens which is recorded in the New Testament Book of the Acts of the Apostles. In the year 33AD on the Jewish Festival of Pentecost God seemingly reverses His actions at Babel.

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I will be starting a running blog - partly to keep our organisation and partners updated on the progress of Spell It South Africa.

But at more importantly to marshall my own thoughts and ideas around how we , as literacy organisation maximises our impact in our country and continent.

One of my favourite poems is Ulysses by Tennyson which ends with the words: TO STRIVE TO SEEK TO FIND AND NOT TO YIELD

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Whenever I travel overseas I am asked the question “What is the biggest problem in South Africa?” And I typically respond, “The biggest problem or the biggestsolvable problem?” In the 2000’s the biggest problem was HIV/AIDS. After hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths – the equivalent of a small genocide – the government ceded to the courts and offered life-saving ARVs to those infected with HIV and saved their lives. HIV was, and is, a solvable problem. Unfortunately the three biggest problems in South Africa today – too few jobs, too little growth, and too much inequality – are not easily solvable. And because we don’t exactly know how to ‘create’ jobs or growth, we don’t really know how to decease inequality much further.


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