I grew up in the tranquil and serene savannah flats of the Kalahari, ten miles from Kuruman, a small town servicing communities that were economically fairly depressed at the time. I was of a fair age (probably grade 5 or 6) before I got my first pair of shoes. Boys of my age in and around Kuruman (and probably my peers here in the US too), did not wear shoes at that time, besides our parents argued that at that age “we grew too quickly out of new shoes” so there was no need for us to have them. And we did not know any better. We drove cattle, gathered and worked sheep, played soccer all day long, and ran for miles on my father’s range. Barefeet. And when the Kalahari’s red sand and rocks got too hot, we simply seeked out the closest and best shady spots waiting until the heat subsided some.
With folks having had to travel great distances to get to schools, most of the kids in our area went to boarding schools. I attended Paarl Gymnasium in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The school (and its dormitories) were situated halfway up the Paarl Mountain and overlooked the Wagenmaker's (Wagon Makers’) Valley, one of the most beautiful valleys of vineyards one could imagine, bordered by the majestic Du Toit's Kloof Mountains. Missing the Kalahari plains tremendously, it took me a while to notice this beauty though, while I really had to make an effort to adapt to the region’s sometimes cold, wet and rainy winters.
But, it was time for me to grow up. After school I attended the universities of Stellenbosch and Johannesburg, attained two law diplomas and practiced law for a short while whereafter I left the profession to work for a large and very successful industrial development bank whose primary objective was (and still is) to generate sustainable economic growth in Southern Africa. Representing my company on the steering committees of two very large multi-million dollar capital projects, I realized that it was time for me to get a business degree. Elon provided this qualification when I completed the Elon University’s MBA program, augmented with sufficient accounting courses to allow me to sit for the CPA exams.
And I am still here, teaching accounting, managerial accounting (and sometimes finance) to sophomores and juniors. I am blessed to rub shoulders with the people of this wonderful community. Sadly, this will probably be my last semester teaching here, but I can emphatically say that “I am a Phoenix!!” A long way from running bare feet down cow paths to walking the hallways of our beautiful school.