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News from South Africa

March 4th, 2012


Greetings from a very hot and sunny Cape Town!

The energy and spirit of Africa felt culpable once I step off the aircraft at Jo’burg airport. I feel I had arrived home.

I had a lovely meal with Barbara Gray last night in Cape Town,(where I am now for a 2 day workshop which takes place tomorrow ). Barbara photographed the Sisters’ conversation in Jan and during our conversation we touched on some of the next steps for Ubele.

So what is happening as a result of the Sisters Conversation?

The level of activity, enthusiasm, new connections and pure energy that has been unleashed as a result of the first Sisters Conversation has been quite remarkable. I managed to speak to a number of women and plan to complete conversations over the next two weeks. As mentioned before several sub groups are forming to move forward on various initiatives.We also had women meet and/or converse about growing our own food and bringing it to market, setting up a credit union and  other new and innovative approaches to supporting the mental health needs within our community and use of change lab methodology within their work. These seeds will continue to germinate over the coming months.

Recording our herstory / history

One of the activities which seems to have surfaced quite strongly is the desire to capture some of our community leaders’ stories. This would be a really positive initiative we would probably need to research into what already has been captured (such as through the recent project completed for  The Heart of the Race) and look for gaps, and new perspectives. Also it might be useful to agree a common methodology / approach – I found this link for an introduction to appreciative inquiry very useful as it offers a model which captures what is positive rather than starting from a deficit approach- if you have never heard about it and/or used it before, do take a look when you get a moment and let me know what you think

Increasing our leadership impact

I am also increasingly drawn to exploring ideas about networked leadership as I feel it is a model that could help substantially increase our visibility, connectivity and impact across our whole system and community. I circulated some recent articles I found. As a result a volunteer/ colleague is drafting a short questionnaire to  collect baseline info about the networks and contacts Ubele people are connecting with – I feel a strong drive to try and identify and connect some of our community dots. Please would you assist by completing it and as well as forwarding it on to other informal or more formal leaders of African descent that you are in contact with – many thanks.

Further Conversations???

Our Brothers plan to host their own conversation on Saturday 21st April. Please start to spread the word, even before publicity is circulated – it should be available in the next couple of weeks. We have been very fortunate to be able to add Martin Kalunga-Banda to the team for the day. He has been involved in facilitating dialogue between global leaders including leaders in  in Africa.


Last night Barbara and I also touched on  the idea which Yvonne C and I have been reflecting on for a while i.e. the possibility of a follow up conversation to the Sisters one we held We did not manage to complete the whole day’s programme back in Jan,so still have quite  a lot of material to cover. I would really like us to run the Open Space session as well as to hear what emerged from the dialogue interviews.  However I am also struck by feedback about the day and would also like us to convene again to do this plus to:

  • Bring other sisters into the conversation (including younger sisters – under 25 years and older sisters over 60 years). I feel we should try to build our inter-generational intention from the beginning and create different opportunities to do this.
  • Update on what has happened since we last met -sisters could offer reflections on what they have been seeing, hearing, doing since we last met
  • Start to plan an overnight whole community conversation for a weekend in early July (again more info on this initiative really soon). It should cost about £50 per person full board and will be held a lovely residential centre, about an hour from London.

A follow up Sisters conversation could take place in mid May. I will try top speak with Yvonne C next week  and will try and circulate a proposed date within the next two weeks.


We were unsuccessful in our bid for seed funding to UnLtd. Although I was initially quite disappointed, over 80 applications were received for only 23 grants. I did however receive some very helpful feedback and we can apply again once they have revamped their overall programme in June, I was also given some great information about the availability of free space (for events and office use), other funding opportunities, volunteer websites etc etc – I will circulate this info shortly, to spread the word. As a result, I plan to officially register Ubele over the next two months and to apply for other small scale funding to cover some of the initial set up costs.

There is probably other info that I wanted to / need to share, but will send this email for now and hopefully connect with you again over the next couple of weeks.

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