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Mphathi Nyewe

Futurist Profile


Mphathi Nyewe

Foresight and Research Practitioner
Managing Director: Foresight Strategies (Pty)Ltd
Full Member: Association of Professional Futurists

B.Com - University of Fort Hare
B.Com (Hons) - UNISA
Master of Philosophy - Future Studies - Stellenbosch University

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


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?

I work with a wide variety of organisations and institutions in facilitating long-term planning strategies using foresight methodologies and tools, helping to stimulate creative imagination to develop new futures not constrained by systemic challenges and constraints of the present. In brief, assist clients with strategic thinking in foresight paradigm.

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

Six years

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

South Africa

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


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

Contributing to promoting and developing foresight capacity amongst South Africans by working with public entities, the private sector, NGOs and the youth, thus developing critical thinking skills while expanding the realms of the possible.

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

To help usher in a new paradigm of futuristic thinking and practice in the current management and leadership.

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

Olli Hietenan of the Finland Futures Research Centre through COFISA Programme. Sohail Inayattulla, Richard Slaughter and Russell Ackoff on systems thinking.

The first gave me a practitioner’s grounding on futures thinking methodological applications, the second a pluralistic view of futures thinking in a universal sense, Richard - a scholarly understanding of the foresight principles and the last my holistic grasp of the systems paradigms.

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

B.Com, B.Com (Hons), M.Phil – Future Studies. Prior to futures studies, my primary profession was in Brand Marketing, then Communications and Business Strategy.

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

I asked my fellow futurists to answer this question. This is what they said: “He is an intelligent, incisive and skilled Futurist with a particular passion for youth futures. He is well read and continuously improves his mastery of the trade through research and practice. If you want someone to explain the complex in simple terms. He is the guy!"

I describe myself as… A pragmatic futurist



What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

“The open future is, almost as a promise, as a temptation, as a lure, present; indeed actively present, at every moment. The old world picture that puts before us a mechanism operating with causes that are all in the past-the past kicking and driving us with kicks into the future--the past that is gone is no longer adequate to our in deterministic world . .. It is not the kicks from the back, from the past, that impel us, but the attraction, the lure of the future and its attractive possibilities that entice us: this is what keeps life-and, indeed, the world-unfolding.” - Sir Karl Popper, 1988

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

I would describe it as being in the infancy stage of development. On a global scale, the development of futures thinking as a field of study started in the 1940s.

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

There is growing evidence of increased uptake of futures knowledge by African governments and institutions lately though slow in the public sector. Private sector driven institutions have embraced futures thinking as a means of dealing and coping with the uncertainties and complexities of operating in an unstable continent. Much of this is driven by imported knowledge expertise by multinationals operating in the continent. The Mont Fleur Scenarios project undertaken in South Africa way back in 1992 is now a prominent case study in a growing number of academic publications and textbooks of futures research studies.

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?

Regardless of formal academic background, read the Art of the Longview by Peter Schwartz, it is as an easy read introduction to futures thinking, then take a short course in Foresight or Scenario Planning (as is commonly known) only then make up your mind about a career choice in futures thinking.

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

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


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