‘In the dense rainforest heat/ Somehow I landed on my feet/ With the will to survive,” sings Michael. And then Joe follows with “tiing, ting, tang” on his piano.
The will to survive is what is needed today because, in case you haven’t received the memo, times are tough.
The world is in turmoil and the two biggest economies, China and the US, are engaged in a bitter trade war.
In the east, tension between Japan and South Korea has reached fever pitch since Japan imposed export controls on chemicals that are crucial to the semiconductor and displays industry. This hurt the home of Samsung and LG in the pocket. The Koreans fought back on the streets, demonstrating against and attacking Japanese brands.
But Tokyo has been unrelenting. It removed South Korea from the “white list” of trading partners, which made Seoul lose its preferential economic status from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Things could have been better if the fight had ended there, but Japan spat on South Korea’s wound by creating a new trade status called the “third category”, which, to all intents and purposes, degraded the South Koreans to a third class all by themselves.
South Korea has little armour that can hurt Japan, and so it sulked and looked to the US by pulling out of the trilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement.
Basically, South Korea replied by saying: “We will stop telling you when North Korea launches its missiles.”
On the other side of the globe, Argentina’s chronic financial crisis has flared up again. According to a World Bank report that was released in May, Argentina has been in a recession for 33% of the time since 1950. This means an economy that is about 40% bigger than South Africa’s spends a third of its productive time in bed.
The coup de grâce of global turmoil came this week when the prime minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, suspended Parliament. This action confirmed that Great Britain has fallen from the supreme status of the empire where “the sun never sets” to a degenerate Third World dictatorship.
In that regard, it is following in the footsteps of the Portuguese empire, which was one of the largest in history, but today has an economy smaller than that of its former colonies – it has shrivelled to less than a third of Brazil’s economy, for instance.
Already, India’s economy is slightly bigger than that of its former colonial master, the UK.
We might as well say goodbye to the “United Kingdom” because we don’t know how much longer Scotland will fly the Union flag. If BoJo gives birth to a no-deal Brexit and the police come back to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, strife may return and, even worse, Northern Ireland may leave the Union.
All of this lesser and greater strife around the world is beyond our control, especially here on the southern tip of Africa. And the lyric “the will to survive” by the inimitable Joe Sample in his song Leading me back to you, featuring Michael Franks on vocals, is ever so crucial to sing.
“And in the heart of darkness/ Without a chance of rescue/ I never quit, I just refused/ I thought of you.”
As a student, the current CEO of Seriti Resources, Mike Teke, loved playing and coaching soccer. He once told me: “Many teams lose, not because the competition is better or the conditions are terrible, but because the players erect barriers in their own minds as their will to win wanes.”
Recently, someone related how managers in her company had lost hope and were looking for jobs elsewhere because the company had no active contracts.
The economy is in trouble, so few companies are hiring anyway. In times like these, opportunities will not come from elsewhere. This is the time to be a self-starter.
Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency