1. Mediator Training in Johannesburg next week
If you still wish to join next week’s full five day mediator training program or the Thursday one day Court Annexed Mediator Program in Joburg, please get in touch on email@example.com
The training takes places at a venue in Auckland Park and trainees will tour the Constitutional Court and discuss how ADR is helping to advance a constitutional culture in SA. This is relevant in every sphere from workplace, to family, community and workplace settings
2. Featured Mediator Section
All ADR Network SA-accredited mediators get to appear in our featured mediator section which goes out to all our pages and lists every Wednesday. Please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to appear tomorrow
3. Xenophobic Attacks
The media, as we know is about what sells the story the best and can be divisive and can add fuel to the fire. Nhlanhla Sangweni of Access to Justice and others of Newlands Youth Organization will be looking to raise the profile of the complex causes of these attacks which have been passed off as Xenophobia. These are not Xenophobic attacks per se and it is of exceptional importance that the complexities are understood. Only from an insightful vantage point will we ever be able to address the cause rather than trying to solve the problem at a symptomatic level
As always, peace
My humanity is inextricably linked to yours.
It’s not enough that I concern myself with my own well-being and disregard the fact that you are not flourishing. Ultimately, if my brothers and sisters do not flourish, I pay a price, my kids pay a price, we all pay a price. We are all paying a price.
So what’s so important about Rhodes? He’s just some dumb-ass from an era of old. No?
I asked a friend of mine who does volunteer work for Access to Justice in Cape Town, just to help me with some of the history. For me, taking down monuments to oppression is a no-brainer. A monument or a statue denotes honour. We injure our own souls if we fail to see the importance of interrupting the enduring positions of honour of abusers. So Greshen Chetty helped me unpack the history as I refer to below:
Rhodes is said to have stood at the foot of Table Mountain and made a powerful declaration over Africa that he would dominate from Cape to Cairo. Words are very powerful. The old adage that sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm could not be further from the truth. Words have creative power, the power to heal, the power to denigrate. And it is exceptionally important that we take countervailing action to dismantle the legacy of his words. Why?
Rhodes brought with him an agenda. This agenda was steeped in the vision of freemasonry and along with it, the interests of the crown. The outworking of all of this was the enrichment of the few at the expense of the many. Within the narrative of the colonial era, the many were the native inhabitants of colonized lands. The modus operandi was to exploit the resources of the lands.
We like to say “What the heck is all the fuss about? Apartheid has fallen. Colonialism has fallen.” But has it really? Look around you. Take a very good look. The bondage created by the likes of Rhodes prevails. The ills of the migrant labour system persist. The methodology of the unrighteous enrichment of the few at the expense of the many, and its related systems endure today. Worker families, especially around our mines continue to grow up poor, fatherless, disconnected and broken.
Fatherlessness was not simply a by-product of the migrant labour system. It was central to it. If you take fathers away from communities, you leave them vulnerable. It was a method of control that left entire communities weak and deprived and it endures today. The road of poverty has very much followed the many exploited to enrich the few unrighteously.
The prevailing systems that started with the likes of Rhodes lead to the massacre of 34 miners at Marikana. Don’t try and kid yourself around the connectedness of what happened there to 300 plus years of economic exploitation and exclusion. And those systems endure today. The mentality of the enrichment of a small elite at the expense of the many is alive and well.
This leaves every single South African with a massive social problem to deal with. Its not just the problem of the poor. It’s the problem of us all.
All behavioural violence has social roots. The work of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking is necessarily variegated, yet of a whole cloth (That cloth includes symbolic reminders of abuse and abusers). Understanding how social power is distributed is key to responding to conflict. (From Ambassadors for Reconciliation)
Rhodes must fall. Images of him must go. The mentality of those that are enriched unrighteously at the expense of the many must go. And others from that era that had the same mentality and employed the same methodology in unrighteous enrichment must suffer the same fate.
It’s time to set aside our small little apathetic complaining lives and allow the flame lit by the students at UCT to start a fire in us all that will start to raze the enduring systems of inequality to the ground. It’s time to live with a passion that advances us all.
Don’t kid yourself that this is all about statues. It’s not. But often our symbolic physical acts point to something beyond the actual acts.
My daughter and myself went through domestic trauma during her early life. We have both needed to heal in different ways. I married an amazing second husband and that has been part of my healing and restoration. When she met her boyfriend 15 months ago she was going through a trauma counselling process. Her boyfriend, a teenager innately and intuitively felt that her space needed a makeover. So he helped her redo her room, getting rid of anything that reminded her of her traumatic past. Was that the be all and end all of her healing? No. But it was part of her healing. A necessary part.
If a teenager knows that the burying of symbols of the past is a necessary part of healing and restoration, why the heck are parts of the “educated” adult population still debating the value of the Rhodes Must Fall Campaign. Kids do this stuff intuitively, but we get so marred by intellectualism and political correctness on both sides, we no longer know who we are. We need to reclaim our humanity and say that we don’t leave symbols of abuse in prominent places and especially at places of learning and advancement that can keep triggering pain and anger. If we reclaimed the dignity in all for all which is central to humanity there would be no need for political correctness and the emptiness and apathy of intellectual debate.
I have heard those opposing the Rhodes Must Fall campaign raising the issue of King Shaka and his cruelty. Are there those alive today whose lives were adversely affected by King Shaka? Does his legacy trigger pain and anger? Are there systems and patterns that flourish today to keep people oppressed as a result of his legacy? If so, those must come to the fore and speak. But don’t be the guy that tries to use the legacy of Shaka, that you are unaffected by, to deride the passion of those affected by and still in bondage to the legacy created by Rhodes, to mute their voices. On a scale of below average to harmful to all, it’s harmful to all.
Dismantling abusive symbolism accords strongly with our work in restorative justice. We acknowledge that we cannot change the past, but we can bury with dignity for those hurt by. Not only can we, but we must.
It’s time to take strong countervailing action to dismantle the declaration of Rhodes (and others like him) over Africa. It’s in the interests of us all.
Peace, by the presence of justice.
Shortly after I sent out Monday’s blog, our Domain went down. So this is an update for those unable to access the information:
A last reminder of 40 hour mediator training as follows:
Cape Town 16-20 March (confirmed to go ahead)
Bloemfontein 9-13 March (subject to minimum numbers)
Durban 16-20 March (subject to minimum numbers)
Johannesburg 16-20 March (subject to minimum numbers)
5 day Mediator Training is R 11 999
1 day Court Annexed Mediation is R 999 (on the Thursday of each 5 day Group)
Distance Learning Program is R 11 999
Monthly payment options:
6 month payment plan (5 day or Distance) R 2100 per month
12 month payment plan (5 day or Distance) R 1200 per month
18 month payment option (5 Day or Distance) R 875
24 month payment plan (5 Day or Distance) R 625 per month
*Discounts for upfront payment and/or multiple trainees
Please return your proof of payment for the full amount or first instalment and we will respond with your electronic study pack as follows
ADR Network SA
Ref: Surname/*5day *Dist *CAM
We have had a victory for ADR in one of our eviction matters. A draft order was agreed to which will be taken by consent in Chambers with the Judge President Tomorrow. Part of this Order sees the setting up of a Steering Committee made up of representatives for the Applicant, ourselves as Amicus Curiae, the Committee and Law Enforcement. This committee will work to achieve an exit of the community from the land by agreement in parallel with a process of establishing suitable alternative accommodation and measures in collaboration with the City’s Human Settlement’s Division. This is what we have advocated for all along and it is becoming a reality: proper consultation
Through our efforts we have had several short term wins for 6 communities of a total of over 6000 families, but this matter sees what we ultimately want: engagement as the only possible long term solution
3. ADR Summit
On Friday I will be addressing an ADR Summit in Bloem. The DOJ and COGTA will be there and I have been specifically asked to address them on what we have learned for ADR in community eviction matters
4. Community Courts
Access to Justice and ADR Network SA has started a process of providing skilled mediators present at the Community and Municipal Courts starting in KZN and Western Cape. We look forward to this work gaining strength and momentum
5. Court Annexed Mediation
Many of our mediators have been accredited with the DOJ in Gauteng and the Northern Province
We look forward to further provincial role outs
6. Peace at Work
My friend John Ford (former Editor at Mediate.com) has published his book Peace at Work, a brilliant resource for mediators and HR Practitioners in the Workplace. I have a copy to give away. Email me if you think you deserve it:)
Please get in touch. We love hearing from you
“It doesn’t matter how your story started out. That is not who you are. What matters is who you choose to be”
-From Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda inspires me. He seems to see clearly the nexus between peace and justice. Or rather, he learns it along his journey. Plus he is one of my boy Luc-Michael’s heroes, so it’s special bonding time for us
Many think that peace and justice are at odds with each other. My journey has conscientized me to the belief that peace absolutely cannot exist without justice. But I see justice very differently now to everything I learnt in Law School.
My life had a few rocky starts. At 11 months while away with my Mom and two older brothers (our Dad was overseas on business) I contracted encephalitis. 7 babies in the locality contracted the disease, 6 died one lived. That was me. But I was left paralyzed from the neck down. Two weeks later in a display of early signs of thug tendencies, I started crawling again. But dragging my legs behind me. The next 9 years I had daily physio and used a wheelchair. A series of surgery and by age ten I abandoned the wheelchair, the “special” school as was called in those days and I went on to accomplish in academics, public speaking and school leadership positions. Whilst still in a wheelchair I managed to accomplish in swimming-competitive swimming and also I was the youngest kid in the then Transvaal to complete lifesaving training. I think I was seven. And in a wheelchair.
After school I went on to complete two law degrees, practice as an attorney and conveyancer for ten years before going into Alternative Dispute Resolution, Access to Justice and Human Rights.
But there were some intervening years that I barely survived. Without going into specific detail, the context that myself and my daughter (now 14) were in until she was three and a half was violent. Even after exiting the situation, it has taken me years to digest that anyone would want to hurt me physically, emotionally or psychologically. And I was subjected to too much of it all. My baby girl- I don’t know, and I will never know what really happened to her, what she went through or the full extent of what she witnessed and endured. But I do know, looking back, that I exited the context far sooner than she. And that to a degree still leaves me shattered. But she is an incredibly beautiful, intelligent and brave young woman and I think she carries a mandate to be a world changer.
We are both safe now in most ways. But there is a haunting that I guess will never leave either of us. There is a struggle to understand our own individual needs and our tendency to apprehend our own safety, even in some ways that may leave others feeling violated. A hyper-vigilance and a profound sensitivity that may bare response that leaves others confused and mystified. We have had to understand that even we have violent impulse. Neither of us would wilfully physically harm another. Neither of us would wilfully verbally abuse or demean another. But we have to watch carefully for signs where we feel unsafe, vulnerable and liable to apprehend our own needs at the expense of others.
The crazy thing is I often feel safer at a negotiating table surrounded by men armed with Assault Rifles than I do in day to day suburbia. I guess there is a lot to be said for knowing exactly where someone stands. Its comforting to be able to actually see the threat and know what you are dealing with. The most terrifying thing that our experience has left me with is not really what is going on, on the inside of everyday seemingly caring, hard-working “descent” individuals. Not knowing what may lurk in the shadows of another’s life and not knowing until far too late that you are actually in a situation that can or will damage or destroy your life. That someone with a legal and moral duty to cherish and protect you, can be the biggest danger to you is just beyond terrifying.
I think the toughest thing for me was having the father I had. He made mistakes like everyone else, but he was literally one of the kindest humans I ever knew. I grew up thinking male strength was gentle, and fair, and just, and compassionate. That was my Dad. He was a brilliant swimmer, athlete, provincial rugby hero. And he was a remarkable business man. But he was so humble. And so gentle. He was beautifully spoken with an amazingly gentle voice and he was the best storyteller we ever knew.
I don’t think I ever got over the shock that there were men in this world who were not like that. That there were men who were simply not strong like that. But there are such men. There are many. Not all.
The most serendipitous intervening event of grace in my life was meeting my husband, Mike. The night I met him I thought he looked so much like my Dad as a young man. That was ten years ago. My father loved Mike. Last December my father lost his life. Mike wept at his funeral. I had never seen Mike cry.
This year has been the toughest of my life. Learning to do life without the guy that my Dad was in this world. Its just been really, really hard. But I know he left a legacy of kindness in my four brothers. I know that same kindness has been in Mike all along. And I know my kids and my niece get it.
I also know that because of who my Father was, I am able to embrace God as a loving father who rescues, restores, redeems and heals rather than a punisher who waves the threat of fire and brimstone. This fortifies and advances my belief and work in Restorative Justice and Access to Justice and my commitment and unshakeable belief that the Law can be used to protect, heal and restore.
Today marks the start of the 16 Days Campaign. We are encouraged to partake in activities that will stop the violence against woman and children.
For me we have to go bigger, we have to work to dismantle violence full stop. Violent thinking, violent speaking and violent systems. I spend a lot of my time working to find creative alternatives to the redemptive violence that is at the heart of our criminal justice system and our safety and security mechanisms (our police “force” not services)
My faith continues to be bigger than all I can see. Guns (as a symbol of redemptive violence) have never made this world a safe place. We have to work to exclude the use of violence as an answer to the problem of violence. It has never worked, except to perpetuate violence.
I dream of mass action turning symbols of violence into useful stuff. Converting systems that harm into systems that heal. Until we work to address violence, full stop, the vulnerable will always be vulnerable.
And the way things are is not the way things need to be.