Proposal for Ending Conflict and to Mounting Social Cohesion in South Africa
Introduction and Executive Summary
South Africa’s conflict problems are threatening to erupt into Arab Spring dimensions, God forbid.
PROBLEMS present an inescapable burden of responsibility to all that recognize as their duty to solve. Knowing problems, apportioning blame and walking away, for others to solve, is often an easier way out. Pointing an accusing finger, and laying blame, however accurate that maybe, is a route opted for by many. The courage to do more than finger-pointing, take a stand to end the blame-game is the most difficult road travelled by the few.
The initial choice to walk down that road may be lonely, hard and steep. But once victorious destination is reached, the reward is marked by joyful embraces with accolades heaped on the winner that had tackled the long-drawn-out assignment to make what seemed impossible, possible. The moral of the assignment is that our nation will not get better if we just let it be. Solving the nation’s problems should not be the responsibility of a few. The duty rightly applies and involves all its people and institutions to be held accountable for their inaction or actions to make it more beautiful, safer and happier to live in. Only those that remain unmoved by problems afflicting our nation would wish to be exempted from this mission. To bequeath our problems to our children and grandchildren is hardly an option.
Not only is it the essence of human agency to make what seems impossible, possible, but to awaken the courage that lives in us all to recognize that every problem has a solution. To dwell in the house of those solutions, requires determined builders capable of erecting structures that can shelter our common humanity, wellbeing, prosperity and advancement.
This is an open invitation to you, as a South African organisation, to become a builder by joining the efforts of stemming the chaotic state of descent that our part of the world is sinking into. Justice, peace, security and order are the route signs towards a future that liberation had promised. Folding our arms in the face of the looming conflict which threatens to escalate upheavals that bring down untold suffering and misery to fellow human beings is no way towards honouring the promise of freedom. The prospects are even more frightening when we acknowledge the historical fact that the people who suffer most in a national catastrophe are women and children.
If the nation were to be allowed to betray that promise, no one will be spared. We shall all be covered in despair and wish we had done something to prevent what would have led to it. That eventuality is what dominates the minds of some citizens of the now virtual non-states of Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Somali and others; those people could have done something to prevent the mayhem and misery that is presently afflicting them, as we speak. Chaos and catastrophe does not emerge and happen in its full blown state. It always begins with some thought, an utterance then action that may be considered insignificant at a certain point in time.
The promise of freedom that so many had sacrificed for, calls upon us to put our hands together and stem the tide of what is threatening our beloved country.
Each of us, being a valued brick to the re-building of this beloved country, is hereby invited to contribute in any way possible, on the strength of our collective human agency. To make possible, the noble intentions of this human agency, we of course need resources.
The solution does exist and has been applied successfully in certain limited sectors of our society. All we need do is to roll it out nationally.
1. Problem Statement
Conflict and confrontation characterizes our nation at this present time; it can and be must be absent from our lives. Identified as the major source of the conflict is a mindset characterised by a blaming mode of thinking. It can be observed in all areas of life, namely, the family, corporate and political organisations, and indeed the religious sector. The opposite of the blaming mode of thinking is the spirit of responsibility, where people take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and actions and therefore what happens to them. If the spirit of responsibility is mounted and engendered in the minds of citizens, there will be no space for conflict, fear or suspicion and therefore no prospect of a national catastrophe referred to above here.
There is a vision to share and a proposition for its progressive realization. As is with all visions, ours too, is instigated by a problem. The problem we are seized with is humbly described not to claim superior understanding but to draw attention to a set of issues of common concern, and for which, we ought to work together on the basis of the same page so as to draw our picture of success.
The picture of that success describes the solution, its potency, the process of implementing it and envisioned outcomes. The vision is that of a South Africa devoid of hatred, conflict and poverty, and where people have recaptured the promise of freedom to live, love, work and retire with wisdom to share for the next generations to guard, keep and pass as a proud heritage to the next generation. The program envisages a country where democracy works without using threats, fear, intimidation and compulsion.
The programme is designed to address and change the mindset that entrenches a sense of resignation to the problems citizens find themselves mired in as participatory and most effective way in as shortest possible time but has never before been applied in South Africa on a co-ordinated programmatic scale that it is now being geared to be implemented to promote social cohesion in order to combat the heartless, soulless and mindlessness afflicting society.
Programme Title & Content
SOULTALK is the title of the programme and among other empowering elements it carries the following:
- Raise consciousness about the spirit of responsibility and its power to enhance self mastery and interpersonal skills. This is applied in seminars and engaging individuals in the context of organisational formations.
- Engender the spirit of belonging and cooperation to extol values enshrined in the country’s constitution and within the principles of Ubuntu.
- Identifying and training of more facilitators, country-wide, who in turn will engage organisations countrywide.
- Impress upon communities the importance of principles, values and processes that go with bringing about change in mindsets.
- Consolidation of the multi-sectoral process of engagement with individuals, organisational formations and communities will culminate in the establishment of engagement and discussion forums.
- Enabling citizens to make use of established forums to further communicate and share ideas and solutions among one another.
- Lend complementary weight to the national approach of achieving Social Cohesion in the context of the country’s expressed national development goals.
Programme Implementing Agent
“Vision Power Multipurpose Centre” or “Vision Power” is the implementing agent that has been working on this programme in many sectors of our society.
Vision Power has a track record of more than 25 years in operation. Programme stakeholder communities for its operation include parents, teachers, students, business people, youth, corporate organisations and prisons.
The Soultalk programme is endorsed by the following leaders:
- Prof Solly Rataemane (HOD Psychiatry)
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU)
President: African Association of Psychiatrists and Allied Professions A(APAP)
WPA Zone 14 (Sub-Sahara ) Representative (2008 – 2014)
WPA Section Chair: Conflict Management & Conflict Resolution
Secretary General – World Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR)
Member of Standing Committee on Health of ASSAF (Academy of Sciences of South Africa)
Chairperson: Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health
- Somadoda Fikeni (UNISA)
- Mandla Makhanya (Vice Chancellor, UNISA)
- Don Mattera
Programme implementation needs
Successful implementation of the programme for which support is required include the following resources:
Stipends for facilitators and coordinators
- Records of all sessions and issue of regular reports at every point of transaction.
- Beneficiaries individually stating, value the programme they have undertaken and felt impact on being exposed to it.
- Offer participants an opportunity and motivate them to be in state of readiness to contribute to the upliftment and quality of society towards creation of social cohesion, conflict-resolution and promotion of the spirit of responsibility to societal wellbeing.
Reinforcing and co-ordinate national effort towards the repairing of the dysfunctional aspects of the life of our nation
Complement South Africa’s formally adopted programme geared at engendering the spirit of social cohesion
Accentuate the notion that growth, prosperity and peace are stepping stones towards lasting social cohesion.
Operations driven by the analogy that society is like a building.
The quality of the building takes after its building blocks these being the bricks.
The properties of the bricks such as colour, quality (strength or weakness) find their way into the structure being built as a measure to its sustainability.
The building blocks of society, which are the organisational formations in it, similarly lend their quality (bad or good) to it.
We recognise that when organisational formations (family, corporations, trade unions, religious institutions etc) are at peace with themselves and between one another, society acquires those ATTRIBUTES and the capacity for a good mind, heart and soul.
We assert that society consists of individual human beings, the people, as their building blocks, and when these individuals are in turmoil such as consumed by anger, frustration, fear and similar attitudinal factors making up for dysfunctional attributes that are passed on to society to contribute to its sickness.
By the same token we contend that if the individual is at peace with himself or herself, so will society mirror the degree of contentment that will be reflected on the state of the nation.
This approach best positions Vission Power, as an implementing agent, and SOULTALK as a programme, to help towards resolving issues of conflict and diversity in organisations as well as in people’s personal lives as a factor to a stable environment.
Principles of the Programme
This programme is driven by principles of self mastery and interpersonal skills applicable to parenting, team building, and development of entrepreneurship, relationships, change management, diversity management and other elements of personal and professional life.
The accompanying dossier sketches the areas that have been dealt with since 1992, using radio community engagement and educational institutions.
Vision Power is driven by a seasoned activist, Ngila Michael Muendane. Spurred by an upbringing of the national liberation struggle, involved since 1960, he served seven years on Robben Island for his involvement, and upon his release, left into exile where he continued to contribute to the liberation movement. Upon arrival back home in 1992 he pioneered the SOULTALK programme and delivered it weekly first on radio for twelve years on MetroFM, and extended it into communities all over the country, benefitting and empowering the youth. In 1997 he produced his own television programme called “SWITCHED ON“, designed especially for the youth. He became a Member of Parliament for three years after which he returned to his best loved vocation as a life coach. He became a familiar figure in school yards and the cooperate world, as well as in community organisations and occasional appearances on radio, sharing life’s principles.
Targeted Problem and Purpose
South Africa appears to be and indeed may well be at the precipice towards an
Upheavals that could amount to a veritable catastrophe. The Arab spring, in North Africa, did not start as a fully fledged catastrophe but as small isolated incidents of disorder, protests and restive situations.
Civil wars, and Arab springs require two important ingredients for them to happen. These include a tense, potentially explosive situation and a demagogue. There already is a semblance of each of the ingredients. A demagogue is however impotent without an explosive situation. The explosive situation unfolding in front of our eyes presents a choice to avoid the conflagration or reversing it from reaching ignition point, if we are to survive as a nation. This task belongs to us all, government, individuals, the corporate world, religious communities and trade unions.
A civil war can be ignited by desperation and a feeling of deprivation. This condition, in its own turn, can be generated by economic meltdown, consequent poverty, economic weakness, hopelessness and perceived deprivation. Perceived deprivation, as the phrase suggests, is a function of a low level of consciousness and the inability to put things in perspective. Lack of good education arising from poor quality of teaching and learning is largely responsible for lack of understanding and disjointedness in perspective.
Social conflict and disintegration sets in under these circumstances. We already see signs of it in the service delivery protests that have become almost a way of life in our country.
There are many obvious signs and predictive signals for the perceptive and wise to see. The abuse of drugs and alcohol is meant to mitigate the unhappiness felt by the individual involved. Lack of happiness is being filled by the anger that is evident in places like traffic situations, domestic abuse, crime, rape, destruction of public property, undemocratic behaviour (refusing to vote) and intimidation during strikes all of these are tidings of a possible social unrest, with the potential for breaking into wide spread violence and possibly civil war.
According to the social framework, the primary cause lies with the basic building block, namely, the individual. From time to time, there are surveys conducted throughout the world to measure the levels of happiness in the different societies of the world; among others, the Scandinavian countries often come out tops as far as their experience of social happiness is concerned.
In the case of South Africa, we are always at the bottom rungs, as unhappiness is rife in the country – an unhappy person has a mindset that is characterised by a blaming mode of thinking; such a person cannot take responsibility for his or her thinking, feelings, action and behaviour.
The signs of this phenomenon are all but too evident among members of our communities, the use of drugs and alcohol are meant to assuage the high level of unhappiness and caused by the spirit of dependency on outside factors, entities and people.
Other signs of the existence of these tendencies are absenteeism, unproductive culture of work style and lack of constructive engagement. An individual with a character of dependence is one who possesses a distorted or weak self concept, such as inferiority complex and sometimes self-denigration or self hate.
The Power of Soultalk
The tried and tested power of the programme has a profound grasp and clear understanding of the relation between these negative attributes and has designed a response that takes into cognizance these relationships. So powerful is this understanding that it easily affords concerned organisation the effectiveness that has characterised its success in these matters over the years.
Noted constraints to programme execution previously point to limited implementation to isolated areas, mentioned in the dossier. After all the work in these isolated sectors of our society and producing exactly the same results with individuals, organisations and communities,
Our Appeal to you
It is with the benefit of that reflective assessment that we are happy to invite you to participate in an inspiring and noble effort that promises this kind of certainty. All should rest assured that much needed resources assembled will not be scattered on rocks and dry ground but on rich fertile soil. Evidence of the success of the programme is available in the evaluation forms and questions that participants in these engagements are asked to fill in upon undertaking the exercise. The feedback received is available in both oral and written form on request. Participants’ responses to the to the questionnaire, are obtained independently and separately from one another. In the prisons where the programme was applied, such as in Groenpunt and Johannesburg prison, gangsterism was either reduced or eliminated altogether. In organisations teamwork was improved considerably and productivity enhanced.
Thank you for your interest in this most noble crusade to save our beloved country and people from the threat of a catastrophe that has been looming for some time now.
Kindly indicate your desired level of involvement by filling in the relevant details below here