“Now more than ever, we must abandon the performative and embrace the authentic. Our essential mental shifts require humility and patience. Focus on real internal change. These human transformations will be honest, raw, ugly, hopeful, frustrated, beautiful, and divine. And they will be slower than keener academics are used to. Be slow. Let this distract you. Let it change how you think and how you see the world. Because the world is our work. And so, may this tragedy tear down all our faulty assumptions and give us the courage of bold new ideas.”
Dr Aisha Ahmad
Dear Kopanya friends,
We hope you have been able to find your self amidst the intensity of these times. It’s felt like a daily task, to orientate, and re-orientate, to this new reality we find ourselves in – with habituated ways of being no longer there to hold us up, and society as we know it no longer available outside our doorsteps.
At Kopanya, we have been reflecting on how much this time is serving as a magnifier and mirror all at once. In South Africa, and in other countries marked by gross inequality, the Covid-19 virus, and the response to it, has highlighted how communities that are already facing enormous challenges are now being thrown into greater uncertainty and suffering. Thousands of South Africans, from those who have plenty to give to those who have very little, have felt moved to support their fellow citizens, by contributing in different ways, including water and sanitation, education infrastructure and feeding schemes, to name but a few. Whilst these are critical in the face of the humanitarian crisis facing us, this country has been in crisis for decades, with basic human rights of water and education having being been denied to millions pre- and post-Apartheid, and gender-based and gang violence increasing year on year.
Our invitation as Kopanya is to take the opportunity to look in the mirror, as individuals and a collective. What are we now seeing that we have not seen before? What is being revealed to us that has been there all along? What emotions and impulses are surfacing, and where are they coming from? What assumptions are we making about who can or should do what, and where do we fit in this picture? In the words of Dr Ahmad above, Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, how can we ensure our response is not performative, but can lead to sustained and authentic transformation, in how we think and be in the world – and what new bold ideas can we take forward into our lives and work from this point?
Let us try to remember this moment, even as it unfolds. Because when difficult moments pass, we are often quick to forget, and the learning may escape us. How can we channel the momentum from this crisis, to mobilise towards a deeper, grounded, longer-term response to the crisis that has been with us from the dawn of democracy – in all aspects of our lives, from daily, embodied interactions to the strategic and organisational? How can we use this time, and all that is surfacing for us, to craft an inner compass to meet the world we will face on the other side? Our whole beings are being called to the task, and the invitation is loud and clear.
As Kopanya, we are continuing in the work we do, whilst taking time to reflect on the deeper call of this moment. We hope you and those you love fare well through the crisis, that you are feeling equipped and resourced to cope day by day, and that you are feeling connected and united to others through these times. We will be in touch with new offerings and perspectives that are brewing. In the meantime, we wish you well in finding your compass, and look forward to staying in touch.