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Wednesday, February 16, 2005


And, no, I did not resign against the Dandelion. We didn't get to play, again. I don't think this sanjubango will work out; primarily due to the travel time to Soweto at night, but I'll definitely be meeting him on the tournament scene this year, and I will record those games.

However, I did resign from the board of the national association. Serving on the board has been a frustrating, annoying, and mojo-draining experience. On the other hand, helping the Club out of its difficulties was fun. Two volunteer activities, both seeking to promote the game of go in South Africa, yet two radically different experiences. Why? The national association is run upon traditional principles; a strict hierarchy, titles, regulated procedures, lack of flexibility, and an ungodly obsession with a constitution.

The Johannesburg Club, when I and another guy got involved in administration, was at a real low ebb. All of our boards and stones had been seized when the venue where we had played was foreclosed (the stuff has not been returned to this day), the previous administration had disappeared along with all the records, and membership was in a near-terminal decline. Basically, the thing was about to die. We scrapped all of the old ways of doing things, set up a participatory system with no titles, starting keeping records and made all materials accessible to everyone, and followed the creed of action is of primary importance; what mattered was what one did. We made mistakes, some things just didn't plain work, but things moved, and moved fast. Hell, we threw away the constitution and never bothered to write a new one.

Now, the Club is vibrant, new players have arrived, old ones have returned, holds regular tournaments, raised enough funds to buy new equipment, resilient enough to survive the closure of two venues (someone once said to me, "I heard you killed another business in Melville", ouch), membership is at an all-time high, and it provides a medium for cultural interaction between JHB's many cultural, religious and ethnic groups. Things are going so well that I can resign (in April) from all my club duties with no fear.

The national association, on the other hand, is pretty much in the same state it was when I first became involved.

The moral I learnt: Hierarchies are vastly overrated.


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