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Bongani Mgijima

Futurist Profile

 

Bongani Mgijima

Civil Servant
Head of Cultural Heritage: City of Cape Town

Education:
BA, University of the Western Cape (UWC)
PG Dip (Museum and Heritage Studies) UWC
MPhil (Future Studies) University of Stellenbosch

Bongani answered a few questions about his perspective and on being a futures thinker.

ABOUT YOU AS A FUTURES THINKER / PRACTITIONER

You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

Futures thinking involves long term planning covering a period of many years. Although we may not necessarily know what will happen in the future, futures thinking allows us to design what we want the future to be. Futurists do not wait for the future to happen. Instead they create it.

How many years have you worked as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

I have just recently started to apply futures thinking in my work and in my private life.

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Mainly in South Africa.

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?

English.

What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

The future is a very interesting field. My undergraduate training was in the field of historical studies. My interest is on how knowledge of the past could be used to build inclusive and democratic futures for our beautiful country.

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

I would like to apply futures thinking to solve our ever increasing problems. I would like to experiment with how we as the country could use our divided past in order to create a future of inclusion and understanding.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

My initial UWC training in history and heritage actually made me to realise that the past could be used in various ways. My thinking as a futurist is grounded in the understanding that the past could be used to create the future we want.

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

Museum Studies, History and Heritage.

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as… Pragmatic

I describe myself as… Disruptive

 

YOUR PERSPECTIVE

What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

“Own your Future”

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

Futures thinking in the continent is on its very earliest stages. Given the challenges we face as a continent there is room to apply futures thinking in order to dissolve our problems.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

There is too much concern with the present. The challenges of the present make it difficult to look beyond the present. In many instances futures thinking is associated with star gazing, crystal ball reading and "bone throwing".

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

Go for it!

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

I find the work of Richard Slaughter very inspiring. No futures student should be able to graduate without reading one or two of his works.

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?

I would like to recommend this website Foresight For Development (FFD) as a brilliant resource for beginners. For futurists with an interest in museum and heritage studies the Centre for the Future of Museums website is a must visit.

 

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