Shape the Future Series: Intellectual Imagination | Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
Shape the Future Series: Intellectual Imagination

Shape the Future Series: Intellectual Imagination

In this second post of our Shape the Future Series I will be outlining one of our 5 Pillars, namely, Intellectual Imagination.


It was Albert Einstein who said that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The Foundation defines Intellectual Imagination as an enquiring and active mind demonstrated by an established record of intellectual achievement.  An ability to see the unseen, challenges the status quo and suggest that things could be done differently to create new opportunities.

It has, and continues to be a real pleasure and privilege to meet so many young South Africans that carry this capacity for intellectual imagination.  The future, envisioned by each and every one of them, inspires me both in my day-to-day work and personally, knowing that the custodians of the future, who will share the same future as my own children, are imagining a world beyond the grasp and reach of those of us who won’t necessarily be around to see it all realised.

As I mentioned in a previous post, all people have the will to create encoded in their DNA.  I have witnessed this relentless pursuit for creative expression many times, but encountering it at the Foundation’s very first selection camp in 2005, through an individual who still continues this pursuit is something that I will always remember.

As part of the first cohort of Allan Gray Fellows (there were eight of them who graduated at the end of 2008), Batandwa Alperstein personifies the essence of Intellectual Imagination.

He initially achieved his undergraduate in economics (in order to understand the business world) Batandwa then went on to complete his honours degree in Brand Leadership.  Early on he established a clear recognition that combining business and strategic creative skills would provide a solid basis for him to pursue the type of creativity he envisioned for his future.

Since graduating, Batandwa has been on a journey to continue expanding his skill set and gaining varied experience.  During his time as a strategist for the Jupiter Drawing Room, Batandwa was responsible for the conceptualisation and implementation of “Constructus” which was a support platform for black entrepreneurs with the aim of transforming Cape Town’s creative industry.

In 2012, at the first Foundation Startership Challenge along with a team of Allan Gray Fellows, Batandwa was involved in the conceptualisation, ideation and eventual launch of the Eduvator Platform which won funding at the Design Indaba.  As a member of the first executive team of the Association of Allan Gray Fellows, he led the Startership portfolio and during the second Startership in 2013, focused the Allan Gray Fellows on ideas which could provide food security solutions.

His most recent creative venture is THE VCG (The Visual Content Gang) which is a young production company started by Batandwa and his business partner, Zunaid Green at the beginning of 2014. The VCG is an underground crew of creative professionals with an obsession for moving pictures, who aim to produce videos and related digital content that builds communities.

Batandwa strives to unite the creative influences in our country to re-establish the glory of Africa, through mobilising a new generation of young South Africans to lead a more independent and prosperous life.  “All the projects I work on need to have an element of direct social value as a result of their activity – not merely an afterthought,” he says.  “I believe that the only way for Africa to overcome its challenges and charter a way forward is through creativity.”

Batandwa’s dream is to launch a creative project involving the mass production of fresh food in the urban and rural areas of Africa. “I cannot predict the future; I just try to make the best decisions I can and keep my mind and soul open to the best possible path ahead,” he concludes.

I have no doubt that in the coming years many other young South Africans will join Batandwa and through their collective intellectual imagination, will be at the forefront of the continuing economic and social transformation of this region.

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