Report on an RC Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya 27th February to 1st March, 1998

Wanjiku Kironyo, the Area Reference Person for Kenya, had expressed concern at the African leaders' meeting in South Africa about the lack of sustainability of RC in Kenya. It was with this in mind that a workshop was held in Nairobi, Kenya, 27th February to 1st March, 1998. Njoki Kamau, an experienced Kenyan RCer currently living in Evanston, Illinois, USA, who was visiting Kenya at the time, helped me to lead the workshop.

The workshop took place at the YMCA center in the city of Nairobi. There were thirty-one participants, both men and women. One disabled woman attended and was so well supported throughout the workshop that she ended up saying, "Disability was not inability." She led a number of groups.

The singing was fantastic. In Africa, singing is one big way of getting to discharge.

After the registration, Njoki gave a brief summary of RC and then we went into support groups.

Most of the participants were new to RC. We tried to have experienced RCers lead each support group, but there were not enough experienced RCers, so we had to explain what happens in a support group and how each leader should direct the group.

That night, Njoki and I discussed our observations of the participants. It was apparent that most of them needed to go through fundamentals in order to get into the full swing of the workshop and truly understand RC. Njoki volunteered to lead a fundamentals class the next morning in place of support groups.

On the second day I also led a class on RC theory and how an individual, using RC skills, can reclaim his or her goodness, intelligence, etc. After years of being ridiculed, talked down to, and conditioned, we can use RC to change back into who we really are. Learning the tools, however, takes time. A mere workshop, meeting, class, or support group is not enough. We need a lot of meetings, classes, etc., and a lot more sessions to get to a point of reclaiming ourselves. This class was interspersed with a number of mini-sessions.

Once more Njoki and I observed that the sessions were not going as well as we would have wished, and Njoki volunteered to continue with the fundamentals class.

Later we had topic groups, and the discussions in these groups were great. They revealed a lot of disparity in the educational system for people of different classes and made it clear that the western system introduced during colonial times still has a great influence on what is taught in Kenyan schools. A lot of Kenyan culture has been eroded and replaced by western culture, which has seemed to be more acceptable, even almost forty years after independence. The children of the upper-class black people were sent to 'private' schools and ended up quite different from the Kenyan children who attended the 'other' schools. On further discussion, it became clear that the 'private' school breed looks up to western culture as the norm and looks down upon their own culture. After many years of independence they are not closer to their own culture. If anything, they are further away. There is need for educational change!

In the evening we had women's and men's panels. This is one way I have discovered to bring out discharge from both men and women. The men sparked off a lot of discharge. The women had started out conservatively, but the men began bragging about their superiority over women to the extent that they claimed God was a man, angels were men, and Jesus was a man. The result was that the women were provoked into coming out with their true feelings about the gender disparities, and out came the discharge! I always have to stop these sessions as they become so lively the participants want to go on and on!

The next morning I spoke about internalised oppression as a distress pattern that has become so rigid in us that we feel it is normal - until, thank goodness, RC identifies it as an oppression we can discharge and make to 'hit the road, Jack' (as the song goes at black liberation workshops). This brought to the forefront how most of the time we act out our distress patterns - they have become so rigid over the years that we do not see or feel that anything is wrong. Learning about and noticing these patterns is not enough. We need to have sessions with Co-Counselors and discharge them. Mini-sessions seemed useful to the participants.

Njoki led a class on leadership and highlighted how a leader has to notice his or her weaknesses and strengths, deal with attacks when they come, and, most importantly, share the leadership, as we are all born leaders.

Issues that have affected the growth of RC in Kenya:

       •  Poverty makes it difficult to meet as often as necessary.

  • Internalised oppression is in the way of complete re-emergence.
  • Tradition prevents eye contact, holding hands, and Co-Counseling with a counselor of the opposite sex.
  • Young people find it difficult to counsel with adults as adults tend to judge or advise young people. Furthermore, it is difficult for young people to get permission from their parents to attend RC meetings or classes because the parents are suspicious. To address this it was felt that we needed to first educate the parents and assure them of the safety of their young people at RC meetings by transporting the young people to and from the meetings.
  • There are more women than men in RC and more women in leadership roles. This has made men feel that RC is more for women than for men.

The above issues were discussed to the satisfaction of the participants, and hopefully the right attitude will be adopted when RC is introduced to new people. Everyone was encouraged to have sessions as often as necessary.

Leadership has to be decentralized in order to promote the growth of the Community and create confidence in a larger number of RCers who will form a core group that supports the overall leader at all times. In order to lead intelligently, the leaders should demand attention so that they can discharge .

                                                                                            Melphy Sakupwanya
                                                                                             Harare, Zimbabwe

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00