Thursday, December 22, 2011

The love factor in a world fractured by conflict

A simple exercise called “sharing the love” or as I like to call it “the love factor” has inspired my work and been consistently setting the right tone in workshops and learning spaces all over South Africa in 2011. Working together with my trusted friends and colleagues within the Young&Able network and consortium of trainers, we have seen firsthand how an experiential learning warm up exercise brings the right “flavour to savour” into our training, workshop and consulting spaces.

In the South African landscape 17 years into our democracy conflict has continued to plague our social circles, in and amongst the expansive cultural diversity of our land. Everyday learning, working, playing, and living spaces are filled with social crashes having the potential to lead to volcanic social eruptions.

In many cases the conflict that underpins people’s everyday existence has lead to actions which result in a culture of greater conflict. Economic challenges on the work front have brought about increased stress, and conflict on the home front and vice versa. In the professional working places mismanagement of conflict and the rage or conflicted-ness of people has lead to actions of violence, and in the worst case scenario even death. In the political arena South African’s have seen a rise in national and local political disputes that have brought about criticism, demise and intense feelings of discontentment with the state of our nation. Conflict is all around us.

Slaikeu and Hasson (1998) explain, “One corporate attorney told us that he viewed the dollars spent on litigation as the clearest waste of money that his organization ever encountered. These expenditures served only to “resolve” matters that usually did not stay resolved, and the money spent was irretrievable- it did not accrue to the bottom line, and it did not help the business grow”(1998, pg. 14).
Conflict management systems, and people who can facilitate dialogue and discussion to curb the need for litigation and disciplinary hearings is most strategic in a context where conflict is rife. Conflict engagement and management must become a skill and at best a craft to ensure that our social spaces are reformed and transformed for the health, wealth and sanity of our people.

“The love factor”, has been an amazing exercise to set the tone for truthful, transparent and deep dialogue. What intervention can we think through or be inspired to test in narrowing the gaps, or degrees of separation that exist between people, based on their differences, disputes and conflict? What can you and I do to bring understanding and sober reflection of conflict within our community, and family spaces? What preconceived ideas will I hold lightly to reduce the stereotyping and demising of people in my every world? How can I share and spread the love?
Inspiring and motivating social interventions must be considered to mobilize a movement of value based learning e.g. respect, dignity, honesty, and courtesy etc., values that bring change and propel change in our social, work, play , and community spaces of life. Conflict need not be the end of us, we can forge new beginnings and realize inspired resolve in the midst of our ruckus, conflict and chaos!

Reference: Slaikeu, K. A. and Hasson, R. H. (1998) Controlling the costs of conflict: How to design a system for your organization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Seth Naicker

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reconciliation and Social or Community Change

In the journey of bringing change, for people who maybe change agents and consider ourselves to be movers and shakers in the world of social justice and reconciliation, do we have methodology or approaches, tools, techniques and tricks of the trade to bring about the change we desire in our world's arrange?

Do we influence and advocate? Are we creative in our advocacy? Is our conscience and consciousness clear, or have we sold out to a system that is designed to keep the status quo? Are we creative in our social imagination and pursuit of change? Are we staying connected with people and a community who truly seek to inspire our world through the social interventions, innovations and knowledge they create?

We must continue to dream the dream and envisage the future, for without a prophetic dream and vision our social justice and reconciliation intentions will perish!

Social media networking and its affect on organizations

Youth ranging from 18 to 35 in corporate spaces, universities, high schools, and religious or faith organizations are influenced by social media networking as it relates to their assertiveness and confidence, and their insistence on having the freedom to express their ideas and share their voice!

Organisations committed to being transformational will have to balance the tension that hierarchy presents in and amongst a workforce liberated by social media influences. The two structure reality of hierarchy and social media network will create organisational ruckus and there is greater potential for a disillusioned, and conflicted workforce.

People immersed in social media technology are informed by the culture that the network informs. The social media network cultivates confidence assertiveness and will lead to people insisting on a workplace culture that affords freedom of ideas, and implementation of solutions inspired by those ideas.

Hierarchical organisational leadership structures are advised to strategically establish a revolutionary way of managing the business, in order to maximise the opportunities presented through social media networks, and to engage the future with inspired openness and a maximum benefit for the business and the people.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You got to walk the talk:Walking the talk in honouring and commemorating the Youth of June 16th, 1976!

Walking the talk in honouring and commemorating the Youth of June 16th, 1976!

The Youth of 1976 stepped out from Morris Isaacson High School and marched down the dusty streets of Soweto without all of their ducks in a row, but there was a projected hope, a projected goal and projected intention to see South Africa being a country for all to enjoy their liberty, and equal access to opportunities, and more especially the access to the rights of all humanity being up held.

The actions of these hundreds upon hundreds of young people may not have been well established or even fully thought through, perhaps there were those who marched just because of the hype, but whatever the reason for their presence in the march, the collective actions of the youth of 1976 brought the world’s attention onto the harsh social realities and injustices of Apartheid. While the youth of June 16th, 1976 will be remembered it is also important to point out the youth of June 17th 1976 who even after knowing fully the possible endangerment, continued to march and voice their cries for the abolishment of an education system that was dysfunctional and demeaning.

In our everyday world there remain potent opportunities for people to take action as to bring about healthy change. But there are many people who are trapped in a culture of inaction and passivity. We find youth and communities from which they come, unable to respond to the social pressures that plague our communities. The culture of acquiescence is disheartening but it is a reality when so called responsible members of society go about their 8 to 5 or 9 to 5 lives without the heart and passion to realize a better social order of healthy communities where children, youth, adults and families are developing in encouraging, safe and healthy environments.

In my work and learning of youth development and community development, youth and communities are longing for a place that is self enhancing and charged with a positive vibe, a place that builds unity and allows people to develop personally and communally, a place where people can grow and become the best that they can be, for their personal lives and their community’s at large.

Youth and communities in our current day can draw wisdom and inspiration from the youth of 1976 and the June 16th uprising while considering two important values that have the potential to inspire, motivate and realize what Dr. Martin Luther King called the Beloved Community, these two values are: “Being proactive and Working as teams”:

• BEING PROACTIVE, the youth of 1976 took the initiative to bring about change that they required in their world’s arrange. We can draw from the actions of these youth to inspire as we go on our way. Being proactive calls for us to anticipate instead of being reactive, but sometimes the journey requires for us to go the distance with trust and to be willing to engage even the unexpected.
“Being proactive”- encourages one to strive to stay ahead by anticipating rather than reacting, while carefully considering one’s actions- an element of being proactive would be lost if one were not willing to take a walk into the unknown- while you can project and make calculations, being proactive is an exercise that calls one to move forward in action concerning a projected goal or task without having all the conclusive data and knowing all the possible ramifications of one’s actions.
One steps forward with a hope and projected goal, and utilizing this projected goal to inspire, one continues to press on toward the projected goal which has the potential to become the realized goal. Our youth and communities can be proactive in dealing with the social pressures and evils that are killing our youth and communities.

• Working as a team, the youth of 1976 created a movement through collective action which was purposed to bring about the demise and destruction of an oppressive regime. The youth of 1976 marked history through collective and united action. The marching and singing, and vocal opposition to the Apartheid regime and its enslaving education system was challenged through a collective voice. We can draw from these youth and their collective action to further inspire us on our journey building our youth and communities. The youth of 1976 were united in their song and the chanting but they carried with them their diversity of school uniform, age, gender, language and a vast range of cultural diversity. Working as teams must encourage us to be who we are, propelling a notion of unity that is supportive of people being different but standing for a common course.

• Stay connected and committed (stay on the path), the youth of June 16th, 1976 as was stated brought the world’s attention to the evil of Apartheid, but while we honour the youth of June 16th, we must also honour the youth of June 17th who after having been through the turmoil of June 16th, returned to continue their vocal and demonstrative struggle. Such boldness and commitment must be praised and encouraged, knowingly working into a danger zone for the purpose of freedom, justice and equality for all.

May youth and communities in this day and age be encouraged to take on the social evils of our 21st century, more specifically may we be bold in ensuring that our communities develop and grow into “Beloved Communities”. May each of us honour the youth of June 16th and 17th, and the days that followed by drawing personal and communal inspiration to walk the distance and journey in commitment and integrity of being the change we require in our world’s arrange.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Considering the work of social change!

People involved in bringing healthy social change, community development, and advocates for human rights, find themselves going about life with turmoil and agitation about the injustices they see. Life is filled with value based conflict for people who desire to see authentic change. Bringing healthy change requires investment of time in the work of reflection and introspection if change agents are to stand the test of time. Personal integrity is of great value when agents of change pursue the commitment and support of communities in different sector of society.

A set of questions to consider in our journey as social change agents, social innovators and social entrepreneurs:
Do I desire to be in community and at peace with people, but find myself being impatient?
Do I lose sight of the humanity of the person who in my view is dehumanising others?
Am I caught in the shameful action of dehumanising the one who seeks to dehumanise the people whom we serve?
Is the change that is being pursued an authentic change initiate, or one that is watered down by the powers that be?
Are people truly benefiting from the change initiative or are we duping people into a top down agenda that is skewed by monetary regulations and funding investors?
Is the plan being implemented to truly engage in critical conversation, deep dialogue and activistic advocacy?

Social change agents have had their learning and approach to activism and advocacy immersed and baptized in the waters of liberation movements. They are inspired by the fiery rhetoric of civil rights icons and human rights leaders. They are mobilized by the demonstrative stomping of the feet of people who struggle for their freedom in marginalised communities. Everyday talks and dealings in the corporate, education, development, and social change world can be so shallow in comparison to the depth one is exposed to amongst people who live everyday with their backs against the wall - people from marginalised communities are consumed by a heightened thirst and hunger for positive change when social factors of education, class, race, gender, religion, nationality, abilities, language and other social factors render them as second class citizens.

It is most unfortunate but many social interventions are designed without the buy in of the people for whom the intervention is designed. Development initiatives and projects fall short of delivering with excellence because social interventions and organisations who deliver them, do not have the voices of people from the margins at their tables of conceptual design and development. One would expect to find people and organisations who are involved in development and social change work, at the cutting edge of delivering social interventions, but many development programs and projects are lead and managed by "do-gooders" who go about their development philanthropy, and lack the skills and training to engage complex social realities of marginalised communities. Social innovations and social change agency must divorce the prevalent culture of paternalism, prejudice, and values propelled by passive and modern racism that plagues many development and corporate social responsibility escapades.

Equality, justice, ethics and values informed by people and communities from the margins should become the order of the day in the culture of organisations designed to bring social change. One would expect that fighting for the rights of the marginalised would be a value and moral code of conduct that is at the core of what development oriented organisations do and say. But there are many who speak of development in very romanticised elite notions of social change. The kind of change that may work in Sandton but never see the light of day in Alexandra-Johannesburg,South Africa. Strategic planning, project prep and layout are all affected by the fact that people are not informed of and by those whom they seek to serve, especially when it comes to serving people who are from social classes in the margins of a political democracy.

My journey of faith, the work I do in development, corporate consulting, and the honour I have of had serving a local communities, are conflicted with the heaviness I carry of having had my eyes opened to social realities of the oppressed and the marginalised. I am blessed to have mentors who remain constant in taking me to task, so as to ensure that I stay on track in my service of people.

It is my hope to see faithful work that will bring people together (people from the haves and people from the have nots, into a beloved community experience). It is my desire to see people smile upon the work and initiatives that is delivered with diligence and determination, consciousness and courage, advocacy and activism, and reassuring-reconciliation-revolution!

Aluta continua!!! The struggle continues!!!!!

Seth Naicker.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blessed with the curse of consciousness - by Seth Naicker

I am blessed with the curse of consciousness- having been immersed in the politics of struggle and the politics of hope- I am blessed with curse of consciousness regarding justice and equality that must be propelled inside our 21st century-I am blessed with curse of consciousness concerning those that are left outside the gravy train of a capitalistic democracy-

I am blessed with the curse of consciousness having been trusted by the marginalised of the margins-I am blessed with curse of consciousness to speak out against systemic injustices and intentional exclusivity of the thee other whoever thee other may be-I am blessed with the curse of consciousness for my eyes have been opened to see the pain of people whom society would rather deny-

I am blessed with the curse of consciousness that calls me to act with fierce urgency when the powers that be think they can continue to dupe and bamboozle people right out of their humanity!!! On the day that took the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior-

I am blessed with the curse of consciousness that challenges my luxuries and calls me to live life that will establish the beloved community!!

Seth Naicker
Managing Partner
indiAfrique training & development

Reconciliation Diversity & International Affairs
In collaboration with Young&Able

Considering April 4th in light of justice and reconciliation - by Seth Naicker

April 4th, 2011 - for some it is just another blue Monday, for others it could be a birthday celebration, or a day in which you feel inspired to get going and make a difference. In the light of world shaking moments and people who have inspired our 21st century world, we must remember that on this day in 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated.
As we consider the work of justice and reconciliation, we are called to consider our role in bringing about change in our worlds arrange. In the life of Dr. King there were struggles, conflicts and chaos, but one must acknowledge the power of sharing one’s dream. Had Doctor King been assassinated without having shared his dream, the vision of a beloved community may have never been realized as it has been in our 21st century world.
May we find our place and space to hear the call and take action to explore the pursuit of justice and reconciliation in our 21st century world with fierce Urgency! "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today," King reminded his audience in 1967. "We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The 'tide in the affairs of men' does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late.' "
Fierce Urgency: another brilliantly capitulated phrase, that drives us today to consider the reality of the here and now. King’s prophetic words were ever so relevant and real as it now. We must decide to act now for the future of people, for the future of our youth, for the future of our humanity. Fierce urgency should drive us with bravado and a passion-ful ‘loveforce’ to drive home a message to the powers of the day that we as a global citizens who recognize the pain of our world, and the pain of our society, those of us who live with our backs against the wall, sometimes the wall is so embedded in our backs we don’t know the difference anymore between our backs and the wall that is pressing our backs.
But in this moment of sometimes what can be sheer agony, and not having no-where to turn will there a be a person-will there be a people-that will rise with a love force, that drives home a point that we must see justice roll, that we must see peace! Will we stand up and be counted- knowing that we are reminded by the voice of King, knowing that we are reminded by the voice of the prophets, knowing that we are reminded by the continued systemic injustices and inequalities that we see in our everyday world.
May fierce urgency take a grip of our minds, hearts, body and soul. We want to see healthy people, living healthy lives, wholesome lives, where families can eat a meal together, father’s can love their kids and kids can love their fathers, with a fierce urgency, like there is no tomorrow.

Seth Naicker
Managing Partner
indiAfrique training & development

Reconciliation Diversity & International Affairs
In collaboration with Young&Able

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Youth Festival celebrates the United Nations declared "International Year of the Youth"

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Youth Festival has been designed developed and successfully delivered to celebrate the international year of youth as declared by the United Nations. While launching a local festival the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has partnered and socially networked the Youth festival with global celebration of youth.

The Youth Festival was conceptually arranged to address the concerns of youth, youth development, and positive change by utilising:
*a South African award winning movie "Hopeville", *dance and drama workshops, *a night of dance celebrating youth, *a concert celebrating young artists, *and a youth leadership forum that engaged the topic of leadership for change.

Every event was underpinned and grounded in the hope of deepening non racialism and building our communities and nation.

From the early reports of participants and observers it is clear that the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation "Youth Festival 2011" has been a social innovation and intervention, accepted and appreciated by the participants and communities represented.
Communities of the south viz. Lenasia, Lenasia South, Soweto, Ennerdale, Walkerville, Orange Farm, and other regional, national and international communities were represented by the diverse gathering of youth, youth leaders, community members, religious leaders and some business leaders.

All events within the Youth Festival had a good number of attendees, and the diversity was amazing.

We have realised a Youth Festival that truly celebrated the diversity of South Africa and it has been amazing to hear young people voice their concerns, anxieties and hopes for the future.

Thank you to all collaborating organisations, networking partners, community members and amazing youth!

Seth Naicker
in consulting capacity
Director of Youth Services
Ahmed Kathrada Foundation