Some Details from a "Colored" Background Viewpoint

I arrived at the African Pre-World-Conference Conference on Friday night. Minutes after arriving I was welcomed by the warm and friendly atmosphere. This was refreshing, as I had had a difficult day at work.

Margaret Green called me aside and filled me in on what had already taken place. This was enormously helpful in pulling my attention out of some restimulated distress around being late.

Then followed one of my personal highlights of the conference: a Yom Kippur Seder led by Margaret and Tessa Abramovitz. Margaret gave lots of good information about seders in general and Yom Kippur in particular, which I, as a non-Jew, did not know. Then we shared some bread and water.

The next morning we had an early-morning leaders' meeting. This was when I first noticed who the non-Africans were-a well-chosen bunch of very experienced Co-Counselors. I battled successfully to put my attention away from creeping feelings of resentment. I had to keep reminding myself of the resources of Co-Counselling skills and knowledge these people represented. I think my restimulation was around the fact that none of them really knew what it was like to try to build an RC Community here. The good thing is that none of them claimed to know, and as soon as I noticed that, things became easier. They were very respectful.

The African leaders' caucus was the highlight of highlights for me. Here all the people who have worked or are working at building Co-Counselling Communities in Africa, and who currently live in Africa, met and talked and discharged and talked and discharged some more.

Melphy Sakupwanya (the Regional Reference Person for Africa) was inspiring. She spoke with great clarity about the issues we face in Africa in trying to build a Community here.

The conference brought together a large number of people from all over the African continent. The South African delegation was large and very representative of the South African population. Most of the South Africans were seSotho speaking, and translations were done into seSotho. The isiZulu speakers from outside of the Gauteng province did not have anybody to translate. Some sporadic translations happened, but they weren't official or in front. There was also translation into sign language.

Hendrietta Bogopane, who is a very smart near-blind woman, worked hard at translations. She speaks all eleven of the official South African languages and some not-yet-official languages. She is also proficient in sign language.

There were people from the urban areas around Johannesburg, Alexander Township, and Soweto, and the inner-city areas of Johannesburg. There were also people from the rural areas. Most of them did not speak English and had to work much harder to get the maximum possible benefit from the conference.

There were five (I think) white people from South Africa at the conference. These people varied in experience and understanding. All of them were committed to living different lives from those of the majority of white South Africans.

Hein Kleinbooi
Cape Town, Republic of South Africa

(Present Time No. 110, January 1998)


Last modified: 2016-08-22 02:11:22-07