Bilqiss: the chance to be the one I should have been

bilqissBilqiss is about regrets and hope for the chance to be the one you should have been. Living in a burqa is more than just having some inconvenient clothing; it is the expression of a patriarchal society where women live within the boundaries men grant them. Individual men have the right to totally suffocate the women they live with. You might be bored when I write it like this but reading Bilqiss will not bore you.

Bilqiss: resisting boundaries
Saphia Azzeddine is a very talented writer. The language she uses is beautiful, rich and harmonious: a pleasure to follow, to listen to with your soul. Her main character Bilqiss lives the reality of these boundaries from the moment she was born – and she resists. She has kept an independent mind. Her inner voice of self confidence never stopped. Whatever happened in her life, she reinvented herself and kept hope to ‘be someone’ at last (p.185). Bilqiss is a moving character who uses her strengt hand intelligence to be an individual, to learn and discover. She is a proud woman who refuses to be treated unequally, be it by men in her society or by Western women with their feelings of pity and compassion.

Bilqiss: challenging boundaries
Bilqiss has done the unthinkable: she as a woman has climbed up in the minaret of the mosque and woken the village by singing the morning prayer. While doing so, she added some tweaks in the way she as a true believer sees muslim faith. Her acts are received in the village with indignation and horror. She will be stoned to death as a punishment but before that, she will be heard in a courtcase. She defends herself without advocate in clear and eloquent wording. Many things happen during that period. The judge seems to listen and prolong the time of the courtcase. Meanwhile he starts visiting Bilqiss in prison every evening, probing her ideas and appreciating exactly that what society expects him to annihilate with his judgment. Just like Mandela once said, he is a prisoner of his own system and also unable to be what he should have been.

Bilqiss: a big cry to resist
Different views and perspectives on what happens to Bilqiss and why are intertwined naturally in the story and give it depth. More and more foreign attention is attracted as videos about the court case appear on youtube. An American-Jewish journalist, Leandra, comes over to follow from nearby what is happening. Leandra is welcomed the way people in the Middle East welcome their guests. It takes some time before Leandra finds out that this is not because the locals like Americans so much… However, she stands as a character and surprises with her calm and truthful reactions until the very end of the book. I found the end surprising and one big cry to continue resisting patriarchy and the form of islam that serves it.

Some quotes that you will find more meaningful in the full context of the book

> About the lost past of the Andalusian spirit of curiosity and learning for all
“Il était loin, le temps où la valeur spirituelle d’un musulman se mesurait à la quantité de livres qu’il possédait, où les bibliothèques champignonnaient comme des minarets, loin aussi le temps où les mosquées, au-delà des salles de prière, abritaient le savoir que les hommes et les femmes pouvaient venir goûter sans distinction” (p. 150)

> About being a subject in a book
“Leandra s’était jetée sur mon histoire pour l’écrire avec ses larmes teintées de mascara. Peut-être même que, un jour, je me retrouverais en tête de gondole dans les boutiques d’aéroports ou de gares au milieu d’autres best-sellers pour divertir ou émouvoir d’autres voyageurs des long-courriers selon qu’ils aiment les femmes ou détestent les musulmans. Je refusais d’être une intermittente de leur spectacle”. (p. 154)

> About denial of responsability
“Une vilaine habitude philologique de notre langue voulait que ce soit l’extérieur qui nous frappe et non l’inverse. Ainsi nous ne disions pas ‘J’ai attrapé froid’ mais ‘Le froid m’a frappé’, ‘la fenêtre m’a cogné’, ‘la soupe m’a brûlée’. Jamais nous n’étions responsables de ce qui nous arrivait”. (p. 160)

> About the gap between us
“J’aurais voulu être elle (Leandra) pour avoir une chance d’être celle que j’aurais dû être si j‘étais née ailleurs. Celle que j’aurais pu être si l’on ne m’avait privée dès le plus jeune âge de la plus infime liberté. J’aurais voulu être celle qui éprouvait de la pitié plutôt que celle qui en inspirait. Leandra n’y pouvait rien et c’était son plus grand tort”. (p. 176)

Useful links about this book and the author:
* https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saphia_Azzeddine
* https://nathavh49.blogspot.com/2016/08/bilqiss-saphia-azzaddine.html
* https://en.qantara.de/content/book-review-saphia-azzeddineʹs-bilqiss-just-being-born-a-woman-is-a-provocation

Find other books to read in these blogs
* ‘Why are people like this?’ Boualem Sansal
* Simone Veil: une vie
* Portrait du décolonisé

Beyond the Difference

beyond the differenceBeyond the Difference – the Importance of Inclusive Leadership is the title of my new book, published this week by Common Ground – USA. It is a great honor to have my book published for a worldwide audience and I hope it will inspire many readers!

Ideas and instruments deriving from the best practices in a variety of organisations now find their path to a world wide public. They show why inclusive leadership is essential and what scientific theories were developed. Globalisation and individualisation have considerably increased diversity at work. Organisations frequently face situations of (apparently) conflicting values. We urgently need leaders who understand how the dynamics of diversity impact daily business. We need leaders who are knowledgeable about these processes and who do not fear to address diversity issues that are not just easily solved. And there is enough to gain with these efforts!

A quote from Beyond the Difference (and yes, indeed, I quote my own words now, very funny): ‘Although we live in difficult times for diversity & inclusion, opportunities occur for organizations who think across silos and borders and who are strong in trade, customer relations and innovation. Inclusive leadership is of inestimable value for prosperity, both materially and immaterially’.

beyond the differenceAs I have been active in the field of culture, diversity and inclusion (through my company Seba), the book does not just offer some analytic observations but concrete methods and tools to implement the business case for diversity successfully along the three headlines of:
1. giving direction
2. role model behaviour
3. organising

If you compare my work to that of other experts in this field, you can see that I care less about what people think, about opinions and the like, and more about what people do, how they act. I notice that in most Western countries ‘having the right opinion about diversity’ often dominates the debate, while (Middle-)Eastern countries usually have a more pragmatic approach: they are looking for the most effective way to go forward. I find all those opinions about diversity often time-consuming with little effect on the business case. Therefore, consider Beyond the Difference as a working guide for leaders to make progress in a context of paradoxes, uncertainty and dilemmas.

Buy Beyond the difference at the publisher’s bookstore, or shops like Amazon.com.
For those who prefer to read in Dutch, buy Voorbij het Verschil

Blogs you may also like:
Perceptions of power
Investeer in jouw inclusief leiderschap!

 

 

 

Visages villages: brilliance of the normal


In the film Visages Villages two outstanding artists, 88 year old filmmaker Agnès Varda and 33 year old photographer JR, show the brilliance of the normal in a way that has not been done before. In JR’s van that is equiped to produce on-the-spot photo posters they cross villages and a harbour in search of people to photograph – and spots to present them on. The effect of their method is outstanding from the point of view ‘art and creativity’ and most moving for the individuals that are touched by their initiative.

The woman ‘who was just a server in the restaurant’ becomes – through her poster on the wall of a house – the most photographed woman of the village; the wives of the tough men working in the harbour are drawn out of the shadow into the light, both vulnerable and strong; the only inhabitant left in mine workers houses, almost forgotten by the world, becomes a monument of resistance; and so on. What is absolutely unique about this road movie that could also be called a road documentary, is the normality  shown in its full brilliance. It shows that normality can be infinitely more interesting and great than the special.

While creating all this, the dynamics between Agnès Varda and JR in and outside JR’s van follow their own road, interesting in itself. These people that differ so much in age find common ground in ambition, personal traits and mutual respect. From a vivid wheelchair run through Musée du Louvre in Paris to sharing sadness and perspectives on life: it forms one breathtaking story for the spectators.
Visages Villages seems to be composed out of many different elements without too much connection. Yet this film shows you life like it is and life seated still sit in your cinema chair, long after the subtitles have gone; thoughtful, amazed, and happy.

Prix Festival de Cannes: L’œil d’or pour Meilleure Film Documentaire

Trailer Visages Villageshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlQ104-3XYs

Other reviews
* https://vaguevisages.com/2017/05/20/cannes-film-festival-review-agnes-varda-and-jrs-visages-villages/
* https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/faces-places-visages-villages-cannes-review/5118156.article
* https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/may/19/visages-villages-review-agnes-varda-jr-documentary-cannes-2017

Blogs about movies you might be interested in:
Quand on a 17 ans
Loin des hommes
Kurtulus son durak

Workshop Fast Reading in a bookshop

 

workshop fast reading

Tonight I followed a workshop Fast Reading in a bookshop: De Nieuwe Boekhandel in Amsterdam Bos en Lommer. This bookshop is a great place, run by the inspiring owner Monique who has given a new meaning to the concept of a bookshop.
Her bookshop, and the name nieuw/new is deliberate, is a place to meet. Book presentations, workshops, even your birthday party could take place in that shop. When my Diversity Shop edits new things, like we did this month with De karavaan en de kamelen: teams op het spoor (see also the YouTube about this product) we always have a presentation and a drink in De Nieuwe Boekhandel.

I love Monique’s concept, it is vibrant and it has a great effect on the neighbourhood Bos en Lommer that can really do with some good entrepreneurs like Monique who invest in activities and relationships. What I like too is that De Nieuwe Boekhandel sells BoLo products, products that give Bos en Lommer an identity. Look in the left shelve of the picture and you see some of them.CIMG4212k
Brandnew was the grey BoLo sweather so I bought one immediately. I wanted to show this sweater to you but first my Kater Aak sat on it (he liked it too) >>>
After a while. he let go and I could make a better picture showing the Amsterdam touch 🙂
CIMG4215k

Read also these blogs:
Creating your dream: Efteling
Vlinerado: creating your dream (2)

It’s nice to be creative

karavaankamelen2  It always surprises me when a creative thing or service is produced in my company: the energy that comes with it for me. It’s nice to be creative! Today we almost finished a new training card game (in Dutch, De Karavaan en de Kamelen – see also the YouTube about it), to be sold in our webshop www.diversityshop.nl and also to be applied in training with our customers. The designer sent me a few images that we can use for the promotion of this card game. Just to see that and place it in webshops and on twitter makes me so happy!
Sometimes I think it is the tangible side of products like a game, a story. You can show it to others and explain ‘there it is’ or ‘there you can read it’. In consultancy for example, this is hardly possible. I never forget the comments of my brother-in-law who said ‘at the end of the day I made a railway but what did you do, I don’t understand’. I see his point of view but I also know that making railways would never give me the boost of energy that games, stories, books and other creative activities give me. De Karavaan en de Kamelen: even the idea of it didn’t exist at all and now it exists and it will start a life of its own. I love it; this is so nice 🙂 …

More about creativity and diversity:
Seba culture and diversity workshops in Malawi
Diversity in governance
Creative use of waterpipes in Zomba

Warsaw Christmas lights (make the world a better place 3)

make the world a better place (3)  make the world a better place (3)  Warsaw Christmas lights make the world a better place. Some cities are good at special Chrismas lightning, some are less good. Amsterdam for example is not so good, not very creative in Christmas street lightning, but they also have the Amsterdam Light Festival (which is not the ordinary street lightning but specific enlightened art objects) and that is rather spectacular. Warsaw in Poland has very good designers for Christmas lights; look at the beautiful pictures. It gives class and style to the city and makes it a real joy to walk around:
  make the world a better place (3)  make the world a better place (3)Make the world a better place (3)
What amused me in Warsaw is that they also have this:
make the world a better place (3)     make the world a better place (3) Some wouldn’t call it class or style but the Polish citizens probably do. At least Warsaw is not afraid to combine these styles in the same street. And the children are happy with it!

Two other blogs in the theme ‘make the world a better place’
Lisbon pavements
Lisbon walking

Vlinderado: creating your dream (2)

creating your dream (2) vlinderado  Vlinderado is an entrepreneurs’ dream, and it is beautifull: www.vlinderado.nl . It started with the cultivation of the Anthurium plant in special variations in a place that most of the readers of this blog never heard about I guess: Waarland, a small village to the north of Alkmaar or for the non-Dutch readers: 40 miles north of Amsterdam. As a hobby, bouquets were made with the different species of Anthurium; and then the bouquets became an important part of the business itself. Isn’t the best business the business that starts because it has the love of our hearts and the focus of our minds? It is interesting, yet inspiring to see how businesses develop in the hands of passionate people.
And then the next step was made, another entrepreneur’s dream was realised: Vlinderado, a garden full of butterflies. It is guaranteed that you see many, very beautiful varieties. Visitors come from different countries, all tourists suddenly discover where the village of Waarland is. Go there too and enjoy!
creating your dream (2) vlinderado           creating your dream (2) vlinderado
Entrepreneurs creating their dream make us happy because we can enjoy what they create. They also inspire us to do the same: to make our own dreams come true!

Other blogs about creating your dream:
Efteling: creating your dream
Mensa Fonds NL born yesterday

 

 

Lisbon pavements (make the world a better place 2)

pavement5  pavement6  pavement7  pavement8 Lisbon pavements.
Wherever you go in Lisbon; beautiful pavements are all around or should I say: all under your feet! It is a joy to walk in this city. They really make the world a better place. Still, many houses are neglected, old and falling apart. But people are working hard, renovating, rebuilding, all that is needed to make the houses – many of them monuments – look as beautiful as the pavements are. Then this city will be one big impressive treasure of different, yet unique styles. Lisbon has class and history, it shows in great refinement of details and in the gentle manners of its citizens. What a pleasure to be here 🙂

Read other blogs in the theme ‘make the world a better place’
Lisbon walking
Warsaw Christmas lights

Lisbon walking (make the world a better place 1)

pavement1    pavement2  pavement3  pavement4 Lisbon walking.

Often, the idea to make the world a better place to live in, makes us think of great and revolutionary ideas. What I like about Lisbon is that they make the world a better place just by adding high quality details into daily life.
I don’t know where you live, but I guess the pavement in your city or village is just an ordinary thing; a bunch of stones, maybe low, maybe high quality stone but nevertheless: just stones. It does not really add to the quality of your life.Lisbon is different. The Portuguese understand that quality of life is experienced precisely through daily details like the pavement we walk on. Look at the pictures: aren’t they adorable? It is a joy to walk there! And it is clear that these pavements were made by craftsmen who really enjoyed to deliver a piece of art to the many customers they would have after finishing their job; thousands of passengers feel better just by trotting on the paths they laid. Thanks to all to visionaries to improve daily life!

Read other blogs in the theme ‘make the world a better place’
Lisbon pavements
Warsaw Christmas lights

Jurylid SlimmerIQuiz: inventiviteit viert hoogtij

willem Willem Bouwens, oud-voorzitter van Mensa Nederland en van Mensa International, was jurylid bij de finale van de SlimmerIQuiz op 9 oktober 2013 en is opnieuw jurylid bij de Mensa Fonds veiling vrijdag a.s.

1. Willem, hoe kijk je terug op de finale van de SlimmerIQuiz?
Ik heb met heel veel plezier deze rol op me genomen. Het was erg leuk te zien dat de SlimmerIQuiz zo aanslaat en dat de kinderen zo gefocused waren. Alle kinderen waren allemaal gekomen met één doel: de fietsen winnen. Presentatrice Dolores Leeuwin is iemand die perfect met een groep kinderen om kan gaan. Als jurylid was ik getroffen door de soms slimme “bijdehand” antwoorden op lastige vragen. De inventiviteit vierde hoogtij wat het voor de jury niet altijd makkelijk maakte om te zeggen of iets “goed” of “fout” was. Af en toe was juryoverleg echt nodig en ook binnen de jury was af en toe discussie over de inventieve antwoorden.
Ik kijk er op terug als een ervaring waar heeeel veel mensen een plezierige middag hebben gehad, de naam SlimmerIQuiz definitief op de kaart staat en het enthousiasme inspireert mij en vele anderen om de komende jaren aan de verankering in de schoolagenda te werken.

2. Wat vond je van de SlimmerIQuiz zelf?
Als niet onderwijskundige vond ik de variëteit in de vragen bijzonder. Maar ik heb geen onderwijs achtergrond. De quizvragen zijn vanuit een theorie samengesteld die mij onbekend was. En ik hoef me niet te schamen, ook ik wist niet alle antwoorden. Het meest inspirerend vond ik het enthousiasme van de leerlingen EN het meegereisde onderwijzend personeel. Kijk, dat inspireert mij om de organisatoren te blijven ondersteunen, waar ze me ook nodig hebben.

3. Denk je dat jij de finale had kunnen winnen als je tussen de deelnemers had gezeten?
Laat ik daar vooral een oprecht en niet een politiek antwoord op geven: Ik denk dat ik een goede kans zou hebben gemaakt maar in deze wereld is niets zeker. 🙂

4. Raad jij Mensa leden aan om deel te nemen aan de SlimmerIQuiz op het feest van 3 januari a.s.?
Ja, om twee redenen. Ten eerste is het gewoon hartstikke leuk om aan een quiz mee te doen, Mensalen doen graag quizzen. Ten tweede, iets serieuzer, het is goed als meer Mensaleden een beeld krijgen van de SlimmerIQuiz. Er is immers besloten de SlimmerIQuiz de komende jaren voort te zetten en dat creëert groeiende PR-perspectieven voor Vereniging Mensa. En, oh ja, dat vergat ik nog; de opbrengst gaat naar een erkende ANBI instelling: Stichting Mensa Fonds!

5. Wat motiveert jou om wederom jurylid te zijn en wat kunnen we van jou verwachten op 3 januari?
Ik wil werken aan een gezellige middag EN ik werk graag aan de PR van deze quiz. Wat je van mij mag verwachten? Een integere jury, omkoopbaar voor 1000,= per antwoord per vraag (bate Stichting Mensa Fonds), en veel fun! Mijn bestuursadagium was “ creating more dynamics”  en daar ga ik vrijdag zeker voor! Ik zal een ander karakter zijn dan het jurylid in “de slimste mens van Nederland”, Maarten van Rossem.

Deze blog gaat over de 1e Mensa SlimmeriQuiz. Actuele informatie vind je op https://www.slimmeriquiz.nl/

Lees ook: maak kennis met Mensa SlimmerIQuiz presentator

Another interesting blog is Mensa Fonds Awards: why?

Beware of the dog

beware of the dog

Beware of the dog!

This is what we found in a fashion shop in Bonn, Germany: dogs guarding the place… So nice! It can be details, nothing to do with the clothes themselves but setting an idea, a trend, a mindset. It was, by the way, a men’s – maybe even young men’s shop. Somehow, I doubt whether this would be added to a shop for women although me myself I would love it. I would love even more a ‘beware of the cat’ thing, but that is a detail. The picture shows for me that shops can be creative and attractive more than with just the things they sell. Few (financial) means are used here but the design is beautiful and the effect is major! I love it…

 

Read also:
Street dogs in Famagusta
Warsaw Christmas lights (make the world a better place 3)
Lisbon pavements (make the world a better place 2)

Never ever give up

never give up cat  ‘Never ever give up’, a special English friend said to me during the first years of my company. I remember that I told him how much initiatives I took to have more customers and that the phone was so silent… He was very empathic with his reaction ‘yes and then you sit down in despair and think nobody is ever going to contact your company again‘ and he surprised me so much there.

He was a selfmade multimillionaire, I was staying in his ‘house’ (I don’t know how to call a place like that) overlooking the Mediterranean and having parties like I never had before and still he was so down-to-earth that he fully understood my problem as a beginning entrepreneur. He had lived it all himself I guess which felt like a consolation and he could only advice me what had been the best recipe for himself: ‘never give up’.

All this came back to me when I watched Diana Nyad who reached Florida beach after three days swimming starting from Cuba: an amazing and most incredible action. She was not just swimming from Cuba to Florida to set a record, she is setting a major message: ‘never, ever give up’ is her motto. Apparently she is a late believer in realising dreams, as she explains in a most interesting Ted presentation after her 4th attempt to cross that sea full of sharks and jelly fishes: and before this recent 5th and finally succesfull attempt. Watch that speech, it is amazing!

She was almost 60 years old when she decided to transform the discontent she felt about herself, about the things she did not do or not change, into the realisation of the dream she had had since 30 years. She failed 4 times, she succeeded yesterday and the first wisdom she spread when she could talk again – apparently it is pretty exhausting, to cross a sea swimming 🙂 – was: ‘never, ever give up’.

Also very beautiful: http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/ht_diana_nyad_jef_120820_wg.jpg
For me her age of 64 years adds to the message, as the crossing of a sea while swimming is rather expected (by me at least) from a young strong person than from an elderly person. ‘You are never too old’, Diana Nyad tells us in her speech and she is right. We usually find too many excuses not to fulfill our dreams and to give up… Mankind is blessed with special people that encourage us to follow our dreams and never, ever give up; may they be blessed too!

Read also: 10 children and a PhD

And this blog; Pigs, kids, and why it works in Malawi