What has happened to Diversity Dialogue?

In case you have been wondering what has happened to Diversity Dialogue, I have not disappeared, left the country or crept into a hole to hide in. I have put open Dialogues on hold for the first half of this year, with the purpose of becoming moderately fluent in Sepedi. I have tried for years to progress on this journey, but it so easily gets derailed by other important things. Now I have set myself a deadline, and need to dedicate a considerable chunk of time to it on a daily basis. This is one way that helps to find some time.

It seems to me a very good choice in how to use my time. I am passionate about social cohesion – people who are different understanding each other and becoming a more integrated team. This is why I started Diversity Dialogue…

There are usually about ten people at a dialogue once a month. On an average day, I can speak Sepedi with about ten people in different settings – at a shop, petrol station, in the parking area, receiving a delivery, driving into a boomed area or office park… I have heard that some people apparently criticize white people learning a vernacular language now. Too little, too late? My own daily experience has only been positive. Of course, not everyone I engage with speaks Sepedi, but I have had lots of opportunities to learn to greet in some of the other official languages by attempting to start a conversation. So for now, this feels like a more effective way of doing my bit to develop social cohesion. The eventual aim is to be able to speak Sepedi in all the environments I am active in, which includes facilitating multilingual dialogues. I am looking forward to co-facilitating in a space, where between us, we should be able to understand most South African languages.

There are at least three reasons to make this public:

One is that I am now accountable to you. You are welcome to check on my progress, whenever you see me. I am very enthusiastic about learning Sepedi, and you may be exposed to a few minutes of my latest learning, my newest favourite words (thlakathlakano and molalatladi are currently contending for first place) the fun children’s books I have found in the local library (I am reading grade 2), the pleasures of gracious interactions with the Mopedi I have met, how many (or few!) words I have understood on Thobela fm today, how helpful Memrise has been and how impressed I am with the Sepedi course I bought more than twenty years ago.

The second reason involves collaboration. If you have learnt or are learning Sepedi, it would be great to connect and share helpful resources and ideas. Please do get in touch and let’s encourage each other!

The third reason is that if you are a Mopedi, you now know that you can speak to me in Sepedi. Please do! Ke nyaka go e tukišetša go theeletša Sepedi. The more practice I get, the faster I can progress to fluency. I find listening the biggest challenge. I can speak slowly to give myself more time to find the words that seem to be just beyond my grasp. I can read and write slowly with the help of a dictionary. But listening and understanding has to match the speed of the talker. And there is no time to use a dictionary. Ke kgopela le nthuše.  Also, I need people to correct my funny grammar. Please feel free to do so. The only way for me to learn is by speaking and making mistakes at first. A language is not learnt in isolation. Let us journey together!


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