What does it mean to be an African in South Africa?

This was the topic chosen by the participants during our April Diversity Dialogue.

The voices that emerged with a view on this topic were the voices of History, Emotions and Capitalism. History highlighted the continuing influence of Apartheid on this question. It was described as an echo that continues. This echo was a heaviness and discomfort we needed to step into. We explored possible ways of engaging with the echo, which included showing up, listening, looking, holding the space and serving in response. Capitalism recognised its relationship with the echo – the echo drives us to buy more to dull the echo and distract us from the discomfort.

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Land restitution without compensation

At our March Diversity Dialogue, the topic chosen was land restitution without compensation. We were a small group and as a result, Lungi facilitated this dialogue and I had the opportunity to participate. This feedback is the combined product of a facilitator’s point of view, as well as an interpretation through the lens of the voice of identity.

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Dialogue inspired by Poetry in Stellenbosch

[NB: Please use the entrance on Ryneveld Street.]

Life in South Africa confronts us with issues that are not always easy to process. They make us uncomfortable and challenge us. However, is it exactly in these places of dissonance that growth and healing can happen.

Vera Marbach will facilitate a “dialogue inspired by poetry” through a process of reflection and sense-making as we connect with each other across some of the issues that frequently divide us. She will present some poetry from her recently published “Dwelling in Dissonance” as an entry point to a heart-to-heart discussion.

Vera is a facilitator, entrepreneur and L’Abri worker; she writes poetry to help her process the dissonance she observes and experiences. Resident in Gauteng, Vera is in Stellenbosch for a series of events to mark the launch of L’Abri SA. L’Abri is an international community that offers safe spaces in which questions are taken seriously and Biblical answers to life’s complexities are explored.

Injustice in South Africa

At our last Diversity Dialogue the topic chosen by the participants was “Injustice in South Africa”. During the dreaming phase the group enthusiastically came up with a concrete picture of a just S.A. where justice could infiltrate every area of life with flourishing well-being. We knew what we were aiming for!

Just a few highlights from the dialogue: The voices of Power and Race dominated the beginning of the conversation as they so often do in the world we live in. In response a voice of Personal Transformation emerged, wanting to hear from the quieter voices in the room. At first nobody wanted to take the seat of the White Supremacist, although their role in the injustices of S.A. was recognised. One of the dialogue participation tips is to try out roles that are usually not our own. After some time, different people decided to take up the uncomfortable challenge and briefly spoke from this point of view. Others in the room voiced their frustration with the inability of the White Supremacy voice to move on, some wanting to enforce change. The voice responded that this pressure entrenched his wanting to fight back, or withdraw.

Personal Transformation cannot be forced. There must be another way…

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.

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Why I dialogue

As a facilitator of regular dialogues, I seldom get the opportunity to participate in a dialogue myself. I think it is one of the most important things I can do for my own personal growth. When I do get a chance to do so, I am probably more self-aware than what I used to be before I started facilitating. My latest experience of being “just one of the group” inspired these thoughts…

Why dialogue?

I have a
voice of personal
experience.
I represent more
than an isolated
individual.
Dialogue needs diversity.

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