I am writing this editorial 30 000 feet above sea level on flight BA 6275, bound for Windhoek. It is 16 July 2015, and I am pretty laid back, with a glass of dry white wine in my hand. My thoughts turn to 22 July 2008, when I was also on a flight to Windhoek, but then I was the very antithesis of laid back. I was stressed out of my skull, and I am sure that quite a few glasses of wine had been gulped down on that flight.
Today I am on my way to the CYMOT Trade Show, with the coverage of the show destined for the September 2015 issue, which you are now reading (see page xx). In 2008 I was on my way to the Partinform Automotive Components Trade Show. The 2015 CYMOT Trade Show, held at the Windhoek Show Grounds, is an expansive show, covering an extensive range of products, including automotive parts. The 2008 Partinform show, focusing purely on automotive parts, was held at the Safari Conference Centre, and served as the fulcrum for the September 2008 issue of aBr, the very first issue. Please allow me to go back seven years, not in nostalgic mode, but in reflective mode.
Just three weeks before that Partinform show I had been the victim of unbelievable treachery from “partners”, “colleagues”, and “friends” – well, I had believed they were partners, colleagues, and friends. I’m still unsure what the primary motive was for this treachery. It may have been mercenary, it may have been malice. I suspect it was a combination of both. Whatever, I had been un-shanghaied from my position as editor of AutoInsight, a magazine that I had given four and a half years of blood, sweat and tears, in my quest to make it South Africa’s leading automotive trade publication. At the time my efforts were bearing fruit, which I believe heightened the atavistic and avaricious instincts of my “partners”, “colleagues”, and “friends”. But what they did not understand was that you cannot just buy 40 plus years of automotive aftermarket experience off the shelf, you cannot buy passion and hard work off the shelf, and the same goes for integrity and respect.
After this sudden and unexpected reversal of fortunes, I was initially in a funk, but this soon dissipated into an internal call for action, and with the encouragement and support of the Partinform members, all of whom took advertisements in the first three issues of aBr, I was winging my way to Windhoek to cover their first Namibian show. This was the start of a seven year (and hopefully many more years) editorial relationship with Partinform, and a reciprocal loyalty that has been beneficial to both parties. I will never forget the emotional and business support that I received from these guys in those stressful times, and this has inculcated in me a loyalty to Partinform that could be described as fanatical. The seven years since those stressful times I see as seven years of redemption, seven years of healing, and most importantly, seven years of rebuilding my faith in the human spirit. And the best news of all is that now, seven years later, aBr now bears the mantle of most influential automotive aftermarket trade publication, whilst AutoInsight has been consigned to history.
Going back to June/July 2008, another bizarre feature of that treacherous period of my life was the fact that one of my “colleagues” and “friends” was at the time the chairman of the motoring guild that I belong to, and he clearly forgot about the fraternal characteristics of a guild, and the duty to protect and care for its members. I am also reminded that 14 July is Bastille Day, and of the concepts of Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) which grew from that pivotal day in 1789. How shameful that what the French people understood over two hundred years ago, is not understood by so many people in South Africa today. But it is not just a South African problem. Read Fingal Wilde’s column on page xx, and the moral and ethical problems of the twenty first century come into stark focus.