Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An encounter with Judge Chris Nicholson

 One day a band of robbers attack a bank and the robber goes up to the teller and says, “Give me all the money or you are geography!”

The slightly puzzled, but still very afraid teller asks, “Don't you mean history?”

The robber points his gun in the face of the teller and replies, “Don't try and change the subject”

This was not a joke I overheard from a work-mate at the water-cooler or at an open mike show on a Thursday night (just putting the idea out there cos a regular open mike show in Durban would be awesome). This was the joke that the Honourable Judge Chris Nicholson used to break the ice before delivering his address at the 2010 AGM for Child Welfare – Durban and Districts. It was a sign of great things to come and when he finished, I can assure you that I was not alone in wishing that he could go on as he had succeeded in delivering a very entertaining, thought provoking and informative address.

The only allowable excuse for not knowing who Judge Nicholson is, if:

> You are currently less than 5 years old
> Not a South African, or
> Live with the mole-people in the sewers of Ladysmith.

He is most famous for his crafty spin bowling, excellent sense of humour and a little matter regarding the case of bribery and corruption against former friend of Schabir Schaik, Mr Jacob Zuma. Judge Nicholson in his judgement ruled that the case against Mr Zuma was procedurally flawed and went so far as to state that there was strong evidence to suggest a political motivation for the laying of these charges. His decision was then overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal who sanctioned him for making these allegations. The NPA then did not re-charge Jacob Zuma when evidence emerged that there was in fact a political conspiracy. Enough of that saga as it is a moot point anyways and was rarely mentioned by Judge Nicholson who it appears has a lot more benificial knowledge to offer society.

“What went wrong with homo sapiens?” This was the title of his speech and he effectively began by outlining some statistics as to how us as a species are inferior to even animals when it comes to the care of our fellow human beings and children in particular. He then discussed the evolution of man and during this part of his talk I noticed a lot of uncomfortable shuffling and muttering. The topic of evolution never goes down well with the religious or the elderly. His entire argument was however stunning, entertaining and logical (to me, anyways) but would be too lengthy to try and describe here but the key point was this; We need to free the right side of our brain from the tyrannical left side in order to evolve into a more sympathetic and caring society. Suffice to say, if there is ever a TED event in Durban, he should definitely be invited to speak. He should actually, now that he is in retirement give a lot more talks or if he prefers the quite life start a regular column in one of our papers giving us his insight on current events. He should actually just start a Blog.

I had the pleasure of conversing with him exclusively for almost 15 minutes after the meeting and it was arguably one of the most entertaining and inspiring discussions I had had in a very long time. In that short space of time, we discussed religion, cricket (we may have not agreed on everything but what would be the point in that), The Iraq War, mutual acquaintances (shocking, I know!), TED and his latest book ( he has already authored two other books) on the link between Wagner and Adolf Hitler.

I have already suggested to the communications team at my company that we consider inviting him to talk at one of our many functions and I urge anyone reading this to do the same. I suspect that he is likely to turn down the offer, but on the off chance that he agrees, you can be assured of a very insightful and thought provoking talk which would make the function immensely more attractive and beneficial.

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