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Scrolling through all the main news sites on a daily basis it’s hard to find any positive news, and it’s easy to get depressed about the current state of affairs in South Africa. The recession, violent crime, the extent of state capture, it can all leave us feeling hopeless. How do we make sense of it all, how can we carry on getting out of bed every morning, when we are confronted with all the bad news all the time?

If you are reading this, you are probably a regular listener to Smile 90.4 FM and you know that we try our best to find the news that can take us forward, make you feel inspired and even put a smile on your face.

You might feel guilty sometimes for smiling, for laughing your heart out, but at the end of the day we are just human and we need a break.

An academic who spoke to Benito Vergotine on Smile 90.4 FM’s late night talk show The Honest Truth also has a different way of looking at things. Policy specialist at North West University Theo Venter suggests we just have to accept that chaos is normal, it’s a phase we are going through following years of neglect, corruption and weak leadership.

So where’s the upside of down?

Venter says only after a disruptive turbulent phase can we get into a new beginning, where we can start consolidating and building again.

He says we need look at the situation through a different lens – the Vuca lens. The acronym, borrowed from the American military, stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Venter says South Africa is experiencing a Vuca moment, and we need to accept this unpredictability, especially when looking at the economy and politics, is the new normal.

But how do we navigate through the chaos? Venter says we need to keep moving and most importantly, keep learning.

“The future can be more than one thing. Don’t let the current uncertainty stop you. In a Vuca environment you need a better vision. You need to know where you are going and you need more research.”

Arthur C. Clarke famously said Douglas Adams’ use of “don’t panic” was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity. Venter’s advice might be as useful for South Africans, in that we must get out of the emotional approach to what we are doing, and start looking at solutions.

“In ideology and perception we build walls and we can’t get over the walls… what facilitators do, and people that we’ve seen in this country, like Desmond Tutu, like Nelson Mandela they had the ability to change these walls into bridges, and the minute you do this people start walking over them, people start talking to each other.”

Liesl (1)

Liesl Smit – Senior Reporter and Anchor, Smile 90.4FM News