– by Noluthando Makhaza
Imagine a world we are all connected, irrespective of the history, ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, age, disability or any other distinctions which engender divisions. A world where we are able to relate with one another on a much more personal and deeper level in our social settings, work environments, and communities at large. Conversations on social cohesion and nation building are of utmost importance considering the historical background of our country in numerous aspects, and the Department of Arts (DAC) and culture have been the main custodians for such discussions.
Taking this into account, DAC officials recently attended a four-day Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration programme. The programme was specifically designed for managers who are responsible for decision-making at a much senior level on matters concerning unity in our communities. The programme focused on thoughtful ways on how to critically tackle social cohesion as a concept, the greater need for social cohesion in the country, how to interpret that into the context in which we live and also think about how we can use arts and culture conversations and engagements to create social cohesion.
The Department has a programme on community conversations which are aimed at sharing their past and present experiences with regard to social cohesion. In these platforms communities are encouraged to identify projects that help in nurturing, understanding and cooperation between different communities. Other projects include Social Cohesion Awards and Advocates for Social Cohesion.
A group of esteemed academics facilitated numerous thought-provoking discussions including Discourses of race identity and social cohesion; Social cohesion and social rights; Co-production of knowledge and data justice for development; and Emerging tools and practices for building social cohesion. Delegates also embarked on some field work which took place in the informal settlements of Cato Manor and the surrounding areas. This exercise was extremely eye opening as delegates experienced the unpleasant conditions under which the majority of the country live, and the amount of work they still have to do in bridging inequality through the social cohesion projects.
On the last day of the programme, we asked one of the academics to provide some feedback on the programme:
“After this programme, delegates are taking back a lot of new ideas, a different way of thinking about social cohesion as it relates to inequality in the country. A lot of inspiration about how to tell the multiple stories in the country and how to integrate social cohesion into the work that they already do around social conversations and to enrich it into the project that they are responsible for”.– Dr Jennifer Houghton.
As UKZN Extended Learning, we are proud to have provided such an intriguing learning experience for our delegates, one that is not only work related but one that promotes personal growth and development within our country, especially in ways that will positively influence how we relate to one another as human beings.
For more information on our customised programmes, please contact:
T: +27 31 260 8870