As I write I am in the midst of preparing to return to South Africa for two months. My mandate: through training and working towards Fusion’s goals in South Africa, to capacity build the local team so that they can continue to grow the work in their country.
This is no small thing for me. Just over a year ago I chose to leave South Africa with no notice, in dialogue with others; I had been leading the team there for a year. As a result of that and a number of other things the work in SA took a different turn, there is plenty to celebrate but there was loss. A conversation I had yesterday brought to my attention that very few people know or recall the remarkable story of the first 15 months of our work in South Africa. Another conversation I had this week highlighted again the truth that mistakes can either breed strength, creativity and cohesiveness or they can breed death, defensiveness and depression depending on how a team or individual processes them.
The story of the first 15 months of Fusion South Africa is one of audacious goals fueled a multi-million dollar sponsorship … which was withdrawn a third of the way through! We didnt quite do all we needed to in order to review the strategy sufficiently after the sponsorship was withdrawn, and so the work quickly outgrew our resources – both material and personnel wise. There is much to be learnt from this, but there is also another story to tell of remarkable things that were achieved in this phase of our organisations journey in South Africa.
I’d like to share some of that story.
We were approached by a secular corporation to use the soccer world cup as a pretext for increasing the level of social cohesion in the nation by working in 300 communities. The 300 communities became the rhetoric but the team on the ground knew that we didn’t need those numbers to bring about significant change. As I reflect on this now, i wonder if the disconnect between what we knew in our hearts and what the rhetoric was important to note. Our goal to which we were committed was simply: To build and establish lasting connections and networks (social capital) that will help humanise and transform local communities and build safe, harmonious and inclusive societies so that all can find their place in a higher (God’s) local and global purpose. Africans have a word for this – Ubuntu.
We were to “birth” a national movement and the strategy we used was based on the New Science of Networks, which turns out to be very similar to the approach the Apostle Paul used in birthing the early church! There’s a great BBC documentary that explains it: “How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer”. I’ll add the link to my website links.
To be continued in a few days….