Book Review: Dependency to Dignity - The A2B for Community Development

Vivienne Schultz and Anneke Buys

Review by Runa Prinsloo

In publishing this book, the A2B Entrepreneurial Movement, after 18 years of working at grassroots in Southern Africa, has thrown down the gauntlet and is challenging all professionals, social workers, therapists, community workers, socio-economical developers, NGOs, NPOs CBOs, small business owners, business managers, corporate conglomerates and the government to break the chains that are dragging South Africa and her people down a vast black hole of disempowerment. The authors fearlessly invite the reader to face the socio-economical problems that they willingly offer as a fire-ball candy (a “nickel ball” candy that is covered in fiery-hot layers that have to be sucked off before they can get to the sweet part in the centre).
In Part 1: Understanding Empowerment and Its Threats, they introduce the problems by using the “fly in the ointment” analogy where the “flies” contaminate the “ointment”. The “flies” are politics, poverty perpetuating cultural traditions, poor parenting, perpetrating practitioners and poverty. The effects of each of these problems are explained in detail. The pots of “ointment” which the flies are contaminating are volitional development, education & skills development, and optimum conscience development.
The authors use the invention of the light bulb and its components to explain the concept of sustainable change in Part 2: A2B History and Philosophy. It provides a graphic depiction of the components and the cyclical nature of the eco-system of change.
In Part 3: Transformative Elements for Sustainable Change, the authors firstly consider the difference between a Transformative Provocateur who successfully creates independent people and a Perpetuator of Dependency, a person who unknowingly keep their clients or staff dependant on them. Secondly, they describe the various factors that need to be considered to maintain sustainable change.
Part 4 provides in-depth discussions on the assessment of tasks and people and the tools, which were tested in communities, to assess the Occupational Intelligence levels of clients and to match the correct people to the correct tasks. Detailed steps are given to describe the process required to lead poor, disempowered people from being A-level dependant, passive consumers of welfare, aid and hand-outs to being B-level socio-economically active, independent entrepreneurs who are capable of supporting themselves, their families and their communities.
The A2B eco-system of change is dealt with in Part 5. This explains what is required of the clients and the transformative provocateurs to deal successfully with negative factors of human behaviour that prevent volitional development. It explains the rules of human interaction that must be adhered to in times when the clients are stretched out of their “comfort zones”. The journey from A-levels to B-levels is plotted on a road-map, while it explains what happens in a day in the life of a person travelling from A to B.
Part 6 challenges the civil-, public- and corporate sectors to work together in power-partnerships to overcome problems that are simply too large for one part of society to cope with. In fact the only solution that the authors propose, that will help the majority of South Africans to change from dependency to dignity, is if all sectors apply the A2B methodology within their own eco-systems and join hands across sectorial borders to the benefit of all involved. This alone will advance South Africa into an equipped, equally empowered, entrepreneurial driven nation.

The book has 240 pages that include the Foreword, Introduction, 6 parts, conclusion and a list that explains/defines the A2B fundamentals and concepts.

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