A Tale of Two Dialogues

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – personally, I think any time is a good time for a dialogue about the issues that separate us as South Africans. A dialogue can of course only happen if there are people willing to invest their time in participating in one. Time is precious, we only have the present moment and we can only invest it once.

There were two “Dialogues Inspired by Poetry” in Pretoria in November. Every dialogue is different, depending on the people in the room and their experiences, as well as their openness to sharing of themselves and their emotions. Each group was small enough to have one shared conversation with most people having the opportunity to speak. There is such value in having these conversations in small circles, for example in people’s homes, where the hospitality offered by the host also sets a welcoming tone for the entire dialogue.

The participants at the first dialogue were all white and it made for an interesting and open conversation about the challenges that white people face and need to process to allow change to happen inside ourselves, before it can happen in the spaces and systems that surround us all.

The diversity in age and race at the second dialogue made for a completely different conversation with the opportunity to listen to the point of view of someone from a different background, race or generation first hand.

Although so different in make-up, each of these kinds of dialogue is necessary for us to move forward in South Africa today.

(The quote is from Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities”)

 

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