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My Experience in RC

Wanjiku Kironyo, the Regional Reference Person for Northern Africa, shared her experience in RC in an interview with me at a recent workshop in Northern Uganda. I’m delighted to give more people a chance to get to know her, her thinking, and her work.

I was the first person in Kenya—actually in the whole of Africa—to get RC. During the United Nations World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985, Diane Balser (the International Liberation Reference Person for Women) and Barbara Love (the International Liberation Reference Person for African-Heritage People) introduced RC at a workshop. Initially I wasn’t sure what this was all about—people laughing, smiling, wanting to get closer. I was a bit uncomfortable. But the more I learned about the theory and practice of RC, the more I was impressed. I understood it to be a tool that was more and more useful in my personal growth and liberation and with my immediate family, the community around me, and my work. I became a good listener and was able to give people space. And I realized that the more people acquired the tool, the more empowered they became.

Initially I had thought that once I acquired all the tools I would be okay, I wouldn’t have to go on—like when you get a degree. But as time went on I realized that RC was a lifetime tool that became useful in every situation I confronted and that therefore, as long as I was not dead, I would always need it. And it has not only liberated me but also, as the work has taken off, the men, the youth, the women, and the elderly people.

As one of the Regional Reference Persons, my goal has been to spread RC to as many countries as possible. But whenever I have been in a country in Africa to lead a workshop, after the workshop we’ve tended to become disconnected, to lose track. Therefore I established a communication strategy—an electronic forum for instant communication. Anyone can share a brief message with everybody, as short as “Good morning, Africa,” so long as it is within the bounds of RC. So we can know what is happening and write to us all. We can share half a page about a workshop and the impact it had on us. We can send a picture, or even a small clip of video. Whenever I don’t hear from someone, I can easily ask how that person is. And I send something like a picture or a quote once a week to everybody.

I keep working on encouraging and empowering the leaders. Because RC recognizes that leadership is in every one of us, I encourage everybody to lead. We don’t need to think there is somebody else to wait for. I say, “You are the one we have been waiting for.”

I share the scenario of tending the African beehive: you have to anchor yourself well, so you don’t worry about yourself. When you are in an airplane, they say to put on your own oxygen mask and life jacket before helping children with theirs. The concept I use is “I come first.” People say, “No, no, no, that’s selfish.” But I have to be well anchored to reach out to other people.

The recent family workshop was the second one I’ve attended, and I’ve been impressed by the skills that are taught. I’ve seen the instant impact on the people here. I wish I’d known about family work when my children were growing up. Then I just asked them questions like “Did you do your homework?” I never listened to them. But RC has helped me realize that there’s always a new beginning. You can hop in when it stops at your station, and not worry about what happened before.

I have a keen interest in seeing family work grow. A big challenge in Africa is the damage that has been done by colonialism and the frequent internal conflict and wars that have followed. The core values of the family have been challenged a lot. As people attempt to reconstruct those values, through all the economic and social hardship, and mistrust and suspicion, family work is a central tool.

Wanjiku Kironyo

Nairobi, Kenya

(Present Time 182, January 2016)

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