We landed in Durban yesterday morning. I’m feeling pretty frazzled, and want to capture some of my initial impressions and senses so i’ve a true sense of what develops, for me and the project over the next couple of weeks.

Of what i’ve experienced so far, SA is very alive. Real. We travelled through several townships where BEunited are involved in supporting a whole host of projects – a grandmother (Gogo) who runs an orphanage caring for 29 children on her pension and donations which BEunited collect, and a guy collecting and doing up bikes for the kids, who needs more tools and wants to create a safe place for them to cycle. I’m very aware of my non awareness of what’s truly happening here. How the segregation truly lives in people…

We’re currently staying at Emma’s cousin’s place, an estate of mainly white people where as far as i’ve seen, the black people are working in the homes and on the grounds… There’s a great sense of community though… like, yeah there’s segregation, and it’s not hidden in any way. Like, It’s palpable in the air and is ‘lived with’…


Later we are going to Richmond Farm, a township where the dancers, The Champions, we’re working with live. I hope to learn more about how the history and present of this land lives in them…

Me and Emma have been reflecting on how cultural difference and disconnection happens when there isn’t a shared reality – i.e. it is easier for me to feel empathy (experiencing how someone else’s experience may be for them) for something happening to someone within my own culture as I have a clear sense of how their lives will be effected. Within other cultures, where I maybe don’t have a sense of how people live, what’s important to them, what their joys and challenges are, how the fabric of their lives is woven, it becomes harder to extend their experience to myself.

My practice of Nonviolent Communication gives me a basis of practice that brings clarity to the shared reality between all people, regardless of culture. That all human beings share the same basic needs, and that all actions are an attempt to meet needs.

The work that we are doing with this project, bringing artists across to the UK to perform within a frame of restorative dialogue, is to create bridges between the differences of ‘how we live’, and the shared reality of our humanness.

For me, this is the work of weaving together the reality of our shared humanity and hold potential for one step towards deeper understanding and cross-cultural empathy.

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