South Africa has now been enjoying the fruits of democracy for over 20 years. When advocating for a peaceful transition after the fall of apartheid, Nelson Mandela said “… We as a people chose the path of negotiation, compromise and peaceful settlement. Instead of hatred and revenge we chose reconciliation and nation-building”. As a result, this says a lot about transforming our society.
Transforming our society in South Africa
South Africa’s transition could have gone the path of violence or peace. While it remained peaceful, we know it has not been a fair transition for everyone. As a people, we are free physically. However, in more ways than one, we are still oppressed mentally, emotionally, economically and perhaps politically too.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up by the Government of National Unity in 1995, with the hearings beginning in 1996. The Commission’s primary task was to mend broken hearts and create long lasting social cohesion in our communities. Unfortunately, the TRC’s effects were not felt by everyone and were not sustainable enough to remain truly effective today.
While continued transformational dialogues form part of practical strategies geared towards social cohesion in our society, these transformational dialogues can and will go wrong if not handled properly. New ways of creating and holding positive community dialogues are needed. Without such, we risk confining ourselves to social boxes.
An effort on our part
In an effort to better understand how we as South Africans interact with each other, within and outside of our diverse social groups, and how we can work together towards a better South Africa, if i could… participated in the recent Community Development Resource Association (CDRA) Social Change Breakfast Seminar: The Healing Virus of Transformational Dialogue.
Presented by the No-Name Initiative (NNI), this transformational group process supporting expression, awareness dialogue and personal responsibility. It’s focused on a methodology of transformational dialogue which is purpose and goal oriented and leads to positive outcomes and actions. Facilitated by NNI’s Lawrence Ngorora and Lydia Plaatjies, this methodology works for groups in organisations, communities or any setting with two or more people, requiring active participation and problem solving to create an environment that accommodates everyone’s ideas and views and allows for popular and unpopular views, too.
The NNI recognises a desire for change, which is being sabotaged by our unprocessed collective consciousness that carries pain, disempowerment, victimhood, disillusionment, anger, guilt, distrust and apathy. The NNI thus endeavors to ignite the principles of deep democracy and transformational dialogue, to spread like a healing virus accessing our innate human desire to express, be heard, and evolve as South Africans. This powerful method can work not only for South Africans, but for any group facing turmoil.
The dialogue takes the group through practical exercises that lead to action and growth – something tangible. The process is referred to as “In and I”, and has three levels of interaction: intellectual, emotional and the essence (connection of the issues). The five core steps to support this process are dreaming, dialogue, connection, personal actions and accountability, and sharing and community.
That is to say public dialogues like these lead to community growth and grassroots development. They’re planned and led by people directly affected by the issues. Our diverse communities should actively engage with one another. Together working towards former President Nelson Mandela’s dream of positive social cohesion and the rainbow nation.
The NNI is always looking to help lead these processes and you can read more about them here or visit the Leadership Lab. CDRA is hosting another Social Change Breakfast Seminar on Human Rights: is it time to ‘workshop’ the elite? on Friday, 29th August from 8:30 – 10:30am at the CDRA Centre, 52/54 Francis St, Woodstock, Cape Town.
In conclusion, if you are outside of South Africa and looking to make a difference, think about joining our internship programme! if i could… internships offers a range of meaningful opportunities in the development sector for international students and graduates. These internships make a positive difference, while giving you the opportunity to gain vital work experience and college credit. We have been offering internships in one of the greatest cities in the world – Cape Town – since 2007, and we have just added New Delhi, India, to our list of destinations!