Reflections from IJR’s Felicity Harrison

As part of the partnership with DDP and KAS, IJR co-hosted a social cohesion conference in Cape Town on the 19th September.  The event brought together representatives from different communities in the Cape Town area to discuss the challenges we are facing and to look at potential ways forward.  The day started with Afrobarometer’s Sibusiso Nkomo outlining the context within which we are operating.  He noted that it is impossible to understand our present challenges without knowing and understanding where we have come from.  He stated the colonial context which, added to apartheid, continues to operate today.  This was followed by a powerful discussion on some of the experiences of people in the room.  Importantly, the space provided an opportunity to express themselves even when some of the views contradicted each other.  All too often in these spaces, people are polite to the point of being silenced, and this space allowed people to express their opinion freely.  The programme continued to hear the experiences of Africa Unite and DDP.  The importance of individuals doing self-work was raised.  It was noted that for change to occur on any level that this hard work is absolutely necessary.  The group was then given an opportunity to look at what they will do differently to contribute to social cohesion before the event was closed.