Make your own free website on Tripod.com

 

Review of First South African Trip

 

CARL:  This is a tape for Len Holstock being done by Carl Rogers

and Ruth Sanford, in hopes that it will give some of our reactions to

the South African trip.                                

 

I think I'll start out with some of the things I was feeling as

we boarded the plane, for Johannesburg.  I had read reams of stuff about

South Africa—books and articles—I really felt well informed.  But I

felt it was an enormous challenge,  I wondered if we could contribute

anything by our work there; I felt that I would be fascinated to see

the country that I had read so much about,- see how much my expectations

were fulfilled or changed.  It was also a real adventure to be going

to a new country that I had never visited before.

 

RUTH:  I think my knowledge of Africa was probably much more limited

when I went there.  I had done not much more than the average person,

 I suppose, and so I went with a limited background. 

The thing which I really expected was more of the country itself away from the

cities.  I had hoped to see more of the open country, not just in

the game preserves, see it up close.  I expected to come into contact

more with the native culture of the black people of South Africa in

their own homes and children in their own schools.  And I realize as

I look back on it that that is the part I really missed.

 

CARL:  I remember very well when we landed in Johannesburg:  First

being called out of line by name—we knew we were going to meet a

television crew, but I certainly was not prepared for all these costumed

dancing Sangomas, the native healers or witch doctors – I found that very exciting,

and I realize I felt, although they were very strange, the beating of the drums

and the costumes and the dancing, yet I felt very welcome. Their cheery smiles

and the way they spontaneously included us made me feel safe somehow,

and I was glad to join in the dancing with them; that was a most exciting welcome and

totally unexpected. I had no idea that had been set up by Len.

 

RUTH: I didn't know we were to be met by a television-crew, so the

whole thing was a great surprise. I had read Len's articles on native

healers, and was expecting contact with them, but I certainly did not

expect to meet them in a dance at the airport, or at a party such as the

one in Len's home. I found them very spontaneous. I was startled by

their spontaneity at first, and quite thrilled that they included us in

their dance, also by the gift of the muti necklace.

 

 

 

CARL; Yes, I've worn that necklace on many occasions since and it

seems to have brought me the good luck that it was supposed to.

 

 

 

RUTH: I go back earlier than where we started when I think of

Africa and our visit there. I first was thrilled, excited, by the possibility of going.

I felt a real trust that I was invited to go. And then I began to feel a kind of panic.

I felt "What can I take there?

What can I do there that will make it worth my going? Such a vast

country, and I knowing so little about it!"  And then the thought

came to me:  "I'm all I have, and so that's all I can take.   And if

I can be myself there, with the people, as real and as open as I can be,

that will be enough—it will have to be."  And I found that I then

approached everything I did with a real lack of expectation [of] what it was

supposed to be.  That to me was very important, to me as a person, and,

I think, to the work that we did there.

 

CARL:    As I think of our various experiences, I think of the time

that we spent with Credo Mutwa, the philosopher and native healer, really

a guru of the Sangomas.  I found that first I felt rather stupid when he

responded to my question "What could I contribute to South Africa?" and

he replied "Nothing."  And then I felt somewhat repelled by his arrogance,

because he seemed to have all the answers, seemed to want to sort of talk

down to us.  I was both attracted and repelled by the native village in

which he worked in Soweto, because I felt it was a good attempt to

indicate what tribal life was like—these round huts and all—but it was also

quite artificial, and that didn't appeal to me.  Then in what he said:

Some of it I found very congenial—his resentment at the dehumanization

of modern culture; his anger at putting the blacks into square concrete

block houses which were not a suitable home for the ancestral spirits; his

respect for the person—all of that I liked.  And I was really shocked by

his Stress on the fact that native Africans would follow any leader, no

matter how brutal he might be to them, if he maintained a clear image,

and that could be almost any kind of an image:  a warrior-like image or

a feminine image or whatever, but a kind of an artificial stage-presence

image that they would respond to.  And he himself I found, surprisingly,

was an example of that, with his great big sword hanging at his side and

his greatcoat on, and proud of his big belly.  That was his image and that's

what he felt gave him some of his place of leadership.  Then I was just

completely bowled over when he changed from this rather arrogant, preaching

person to one who kneeled at my side very painfully and said, in an almost

pleading voice, "What can 1 do?"  I couldn't understand that rapid shift

in his attitude, and I couldn't make much of a response except that he

would have to find the answers for himself.

 

When we went to his home, I was impressed by the real hovel of his

home, a dark, cramped little house; and the contrast between the squalid

nature of the home and his own dignity and the dignity of his wife and

the dignity of the young woman who was training to be a Sangoma seemed

so totally miraculous almost in that kind of a squalid environment.

 

RUTH:  I had much of the same response to Credo when I saw him.  I

had some expectations because my introduction had been through Len,

that here is a learned man, a philosopher, a poet, a sculptor, a spiritual leader,

and what I saw was a great mountain of a man, very heavy, in a greatcoat on a hot day,

a sword practically dragging on the ground, pacing about in  a very irritated way. 

I felt let down, felt repelled, fascinated, and really confused.  But after our conversation with him,

when he knelt on the ground, I saw the hurt, angry, vulnerable, very

human and discouraged man who, in spite of his posturings before and his

preachments, had revealed that very tender part of himself.  I saw then,

and my heart really went out to him as a person, at that point.  I think

that's when I began to see him as a person, and that there were all these

parts of him which he was trying to pull together.   He had been torn

apart by the love for his people, loyalty to their spirit, his feeling of

rejection because he does not go along with the moderate blacks, strife

among his own people, among the tribes of the native South Africans, his

being cheated and his writing controlled, by publishers, his clairvoyant

vision of what is happening to destroy the people and the spirit of South

Africa, and his wisdom and strength, and then his powerlessness.  That to

me pulled together so much of the whole life and mind and spirit of South

Africa, and the turmoil that's going on there.

 

CARL:  One other aspect of our visit that impressed me was the ritualistic

 nature of some of his behavior.  He wanted us to sit on the

stones that would be part of the earth of Africa, he spread his coat for

us to sit on, and when we got to his house the formality with which he

gave us these really unusual gifts made me realize that ritual comes

very naturally to the African native and is a part of his life.  And all

of that done with a ritualistic flair, seating us on a purple piece of

cloth, giving us gifts with a little speech with each one, giving you an

African name, and so on.          

 

RUTH:  There was real dignity in that, and reverence, I think,

reverence for the tradition and recognition, particularly of you, as

another "seeker after truth," he said.   Perhaps the best way to

summarize my impressions soon after returning from South Africa are a few lines which I wrote:

 

I said, “I must write, about the past weeks in Africa, an undertaking

so complex, so vast, and a part of the fiber of my being, that finding

a perspective or a starting point seems impossible.  And yet I want in

some way to make real to those who are close to me that other world of

which I am now a part.  The grandeur, the fertility, and the barrenness

of the land, the warmth and the chill, the courage, the hopelessness,

the helplessness, the fear, the hate, the iron bars, the invisible bars,

the inner freedom of spirits who will not be quenched, the joyous,

childlike dance and the quick smile of those close, to the earth, the

illiteracy and resignation, the ancient wisdom, the arrogance of those

in high places, the desolate, barren quarter-acres of a resettlement

homeland.”                                                       

 

CARL:  Somehow that leads me to want to comment on Kwandebele.

To me that was one of the outstanding experiences of the trip, to see

this dusty, arid, infertile land with 700,000 people scattered over it

was a spectacle never to be forgotten.  Their lives seemed so desperate,

really, living on a quarter-acre of ground with absolutely no opportunity

to earn except to take whatever the white man would pay them in Pretoria.

I felt real anger at the incredible injustice of that economic slavery

that they were exposed to, and somehow that was made, that feeling of

injustice ran even deeper because the people themselves seemed often

cheery, smiling, resigned to the fact that they had water turned on in

the infrequent taps only two hours each day and they had to carry all

the water to their homes—all of that they seemed to be taking with the

resigned patience of the oppressed.

 

RUTH:  Yes, I responded with real anger.  I felt it welling up in

me during Kwandebele, and what a cruel system that is: families split

apart living in a desert land. I think nothing could grow on that land—

at least I didn't see much growing on it—a dumping ground really for

the families of those who keep the cities running.  And then the almost

mechanical way in which the women were walking along the road, usually

with a pail of water on their head, maybe both arms full, maybe a baby

on their back, and hardly any men anywhere to be seen; I suppose they

were all in the city.  The wonderful bursts of light and laughter came

when children running along the side of the road or sitting by the side

of the road would look up at us, and if we waved or smiled at them, they

would leap up and down and cavort and wave, and their faces were

immediately lighted up with smiles.  So here was all this spontaneity and life

in the midst of what seemed like a very hopeless situation.  On the other

hand, I remember that woman, a young woman, apparently, with a nice-

looking jacket on, walking along carrying a 5-gallon can on her head,

rand her hands in her pockets, very nonchalant.

 

 

CARL;  One other thing I remember about Kwandebele was that it had

taken Len three weeks to get a permit to go there.  That to me is an

example of the pattern of the country.  I have never been anywhere,

certainly in no country or state, which was so frustratingly wound about

with laws and permits and regulations and rules and prohibitions.  It

must take an incredible army of bureaucrats to even try to enforce them.

I can see why people told me that the rules were so complex that you

That couldn't possibly live without breaking rules, and that was leading to

a disrespect for all law.  Everywhere we went there were rules, rules,

rules.  Entering Soweto there was a big billboard full of rules about

being in Soweto.  When we visited the botanical garden, that lovely

botanical garden, a whole list of rules was there too.  It just seemed

as though everywhere we went there were rules.

 

 RUTH:  In a way I feel that that's part of the hope in South

Africa as well the threat.  According to Jean Naidoo’s statement, "A

law is of no value unless it is obeyed," and of course the whole thrust

of her revolutionary action was peaceful but not obeying an unjust law.

I think one of the contradictory experiences I had within myself

had to do with the patience and forbearance of the people, the black

people.  And then I found myself feeling angry with them, impatient with

them for their patience, and feeling that if they weren't quite so patient

and long-suffering, that they wouldn't have to stay where they are.  And

then I know that there are just mountains of reasons why they can't react.

 

CARL:  And one large reason why they can't react is that there is

this always-present fear of detention: the security branch, the security

police, can pick them up at any time, and so they have developed this

resignation, I feel.                                        

 

I reacted quite differently to different groups of black people that

we met.  With some, the educated blacks like Daphne or John Tau, I felt

thoroughly understanding of them, as though we could converse easily

as equals.  I felt somewhat the same way about the faculty and students

at the University of the North; I felt much more at ease with the black

faculty than the white there.  On the other hand, with some I felt a deep

cultural difference.  I know that when I was talking with Percy about how

he was called to be a Sangoma, I realized I was talking to someone from

a very different culture.  When Credo was talking about his firm belief

in the ancestral spirits, and when others were talking about that, I

realized there was quite a chasm between us, not of antagonism, simply

of difficulty in understanding.  I suppose that one thing that surprised

me and disturbed me was the real hostility and friction between the different tribal groups. 

That was one thing I had not anticipated; I didn'tcome across that very strongly,

or at least it didn't impress me, in my reading about South Africa, and to find that the blacks were just as much

opposed to blacks as they were to whites was somewhat of an astonishment.

One good example of that, and also an example of the really malevolent

way in which the government tries to divide and conquer is the Soweto

Council.  Soweto is governed by a council composed entirely of blacks.

But those blacks are so hated by the Soweto natives they have to have

the council working in a barbed-wire-fenced enclosure with armed guards.

because they simply wouldn't be safe among the population.  The reason

is that the government manipulated it so that six percent of the population

elected that council, and so they are not representative of the

people.  They are an example of what one black called "the white men with

black skins."

 

RUTH:  Yes, that must apply to them.  I am puzzled by what you just

said, and what I remember of what Len said about the six percent of

the population of Soweto who elected their council.  I thought that they

were showing resistance to the government's saying "Now you have to

elect some people to represent you," and because they resisted it,

most people didn't go to the polls. 

 

(CARL: That's right.) 

 

RUTH: Is that the same?

 

CARL:  Yes. They boycotted the election, but then the government

regarded the election as valid.                   

 

RUTH:  as valid, so that six percent voted the government for a

million people. 

 

(CARL: Right.)                                      

 

Ruth: I'm feeling right now a little that maybe I'm dropping into the trap

of saying a thing is all right or all wrong, and I want to go back to that

statement about the University of the North, and the black faculty, the

white faculty.  I had occasion to talk with two white members of the faculty

and two black members of the faculty.  And it so happened that those

sitting near me at lunchtime, the white professors, were as eager as were

the others to learn how to facilitate conflicting groups:  How can we

teach Ourselves—can we learn by ourselves—to create a climate where

factions on the campus here can become more understanding one of the other?

So I think there are many white people who are really seriously concerned

and want very much to help bridge that gap and perhaps don't know how.

 

 

 

CARL:  I would quite agree that generalizations are always dangerous.

One thing that I might speak about is the feelings I had when we

went to Soweto for the first time.  I was prepared through my reading

for the squalid ghetto aspect, but I was again shocked to find that you

had to have a permit—a white person would have to have a permit—to go

to Soweto, and I was surprised by the rules.  I was angry at the fact

that John Tau  had to carry on his counseling work in a miserable little

concrete block house.  And then I was very surprised to find some of the

houses were decorated in tribal fashion; that was nice, and pleasant,

and it was utterly surprising to find some  large and obviously wealthy

homes.  It made me realize—I didn't see any of the owners of those

wealthy homes--that I never in South Africa saw any poor white, and I

never saw any very rich black.  It seems as though the whites all, as

far as I could tell, live quite middle-class or affluent lives, while the

blacks with very rare exceptions live lives of real poverty.  That seemed

like such a powder keg of potential rebellion.

 

RUTH:  With twenty percent of the population governing the whole.

And as someone remarked, if they could only understand it, there would

be enough for everyone to live well if they would share it evenly, and

yet it would mean a tremendous loss to those presently in power,

a tremendous change with all the millions that are not presently represented,

so that it certainly is an explosive situation.

 

And the whites living in fear all the time that if these different

factions, groups, classes, classifications, aren't kept apart, they might

gain some power. 

         

CARL;  Yes, I felt that the whole system of apartheid, separating

blacks, whites, Indian, colored, other categories, has been so successful

and so strictly controlled that it has separated persons from persons

as well as colors from colors.  Dialogue seems to be quite unheard of

and openness of expression; young people in an Afrikaans family don't

contradict their elders, don't speak up for themselves.  I felt that if there was

one contribution we made, it was that we did in a small way initiate dialogue

between groups that had never talked with each other as equals before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUTH:  And up to that time I had never had the experience of so much warmth, acceptance, and spontaneity, the people surging up to the stage afterwards to talk.  A number of men and women, although more women than men, as far as I was concerned, said that they had never believed it possible for a man and a woman to share equally in such a gathering, facilitation of a group, with neither one dominating the other, and that certainly was a reflection of life in Africa: one dominates another.  It's almost impossible to get dialogue between equals.  And I am reminded of the man, a professor whose name I remember because it's Neil, said that probably there was hardly a person in all of Stellenbosch, a white person, who had ever talked to a black person excepting as a servant, and was

quite amazed that we had had an opportunity to meet with all groups, all

classifications.  So it seems that that hunger, real hunger for communicating one with another, was so evident in Johannesburg and Capetown, more

in Johannesburg, I think.

 

CARL:  Yes, I don't think I have ever seen or contacted people who

were so starved for communication.  It seemed as though they just blossomed when they knew there was a chance that they could speak their

minds and it would be accepted; they could speak across racial barriers,

they could speak across sex barriers.  I feel that the black/white group

onstage that we did in Johannesburg and the men/women group in Capetown

were just eye-openers to the people, that showed that real conversation,

real dialogue, real communication could go on between different groups.

 

And I share your feeling that probably one of our most important Impacts

was our cooperative way of working together, that to see a man and woman

working together easily, and as you say, without domination, was just

unheard of, and that probably was one of our biggest contributions, and

it never had to be put into words.

 

RUTH:  Yes, saying "I have seen it happen, so I know it's possible."

That brings up something which was an amazement to me, and that was

the way in which women responded to an opening for a meeting of women, a

women's group.  And I felt that in our time with the marriage and family

counselors in Soweto, the question came up about men/women relationships

and 'the role of husband and wife or in the home, that there was such a

chasm between women, who were all family counselors, in their feeling about

a woman's place, and the shock with which one woman responded to another

who said, "Well I can go out; my husband lets me go out to meetings; I

just have to ask him."  And here was an explosion, a woman who said "Well

I’m not doing that anymore; you mean you have to ask your husband?"  I

felt that when we got into that, I was beginning to feel really in myself

there, through those women, the impact of the old and the new as they

meet.

 

 

 

CARL:  Somehow that brings to mind one other thing that I felt in

South Africa.  And that was the righteousness that lies behind so much of

the oppression.  It's all scripturally based, even the man/woman domination and the government separation of races and so on.  They have firmly believed—whether they really believe it now I don't know—but they have firmly believed that that's God's law, that's the way things should be, and so there is a righteousness about a lot of the things that seem to me evil in South Africa that is hard to take.

 

RUTH:  It's very hard to convey the complexity of all that.  And I

know I haven't begun to see the complexity of it.  I have some general

impressions and feelings, but I'm sure if I lived there, with the awareness

I have now, I would find that I'd just begun.

 

CARL:  Yes, one thing that impressed me - was that any simple solution to the South African problems is impossible.  It's an incredibly complex mix of races and viewpoints and degrees of sophistication and all.

Somehow the gap between the wealthy group that we met with at lunch in

Capetown and the poverty we saw in Kwandebele is just vast, and the difference between the Masai tribe that we saw in Kenya (we didn't see much.

tribal life in South Africa) and the educated blacks in South Africa—that

gap is enormous.  There are no easy solutions; there could only be progress

toward solutions, and that would have to come about through dialogue,

it seems to me.

 

RUTH:  Yes, I think the point which you made about the black/white

Group, I guess it really was a confrontation, wasn't it (CARL: Um-hmm)—

it was a dialogue, but it was very real and very confrontive; the important thing that happened there was that for that short time, at least,

each one of those persons was there as an equal, was accepted as an equal,

was heard as an equal regardless of whether that person was in a position

of power politically, socially, or in a position of being invisible or

powerless.  And again, seeing that that has happened, even in a limited

time or space, means that it can happen.

                        

CARL:  That was one very important philosophic or theoretical point

that came home to me, because the question was raised;  "How can power-

less people have any communication or dialogue with those in power?"

And we showed that there is a temporary answer, but a very important

answer, that in a conference, a facilitator can create equality between

the people, by treating each with equal dignity and respect, and listening

equally to each.  And that's a terribly important thing to know.  And then

I was concerned with another aspect of it:  knowing that yes, they would

be together as equals during the weekend, and Monday it would be the

oppressor and the oppressed; the black would have to be subservient and

exploited.  And that raised the whole, philosophical question, "Is it right

and fair to empower a person for a short period of time, to make them

perhaps feel stronger, feel more competent, more able to express themselves

and so on, when the next day that equality will vanish?"  But I think

we both came to the conclusion that, yes, it's only from that kind of

equality that the Steve Bikos or the Daphnes, the intelligent, educated

statesman-like people, persons growing out of the oppressed group, they're

the only hope of South Africa, and we had a small part in helping to show

how it was possible for such people to gain their equality.

 

RUTH:  I think that question came up very forcibly to me in Kenya,

when the rehabilitation counselor said "Do I have the right to lift, to

raise the sights of a poor minority person who has no possibility of

realizing their full potential, and yet saying you have potential

which you can realize if you empower yourself?"  And the same answer

comes back to that, and I think there's another, I guess philosophical,

part of that for me.  And that is that I have no choice.  If a person

has an opportunity to gain new insights into his own or other persons'

potential, I have no right to withhold that opportunity.  Neither can I

be responsible for what that person does with it.  It may be that some

people will lose it, or will be hurt by it more than helped, but that has

to be for that person; I can't carry that responsibility.  But I feel

that I have no right as a human being to withhold it.

 

CARL: ... would be in Stellenbosch.  That's the only experience that has left a bad taste in my mouth, from beginning to end.  From my point of view, nothing went right.  I didn't enjoy the pomp and ceremony of our greeting, I didn't enjoy being photographed with so many different groups.  It seemed as though I was sort of a specimen to be captured rather than a person to be involved with.  I was pleased by the introduction: the elderly professor whose name I forget gave a very good, concise picture of my views—it was really the only bright spot of the day.  I didn't feel a receptive energy in the audience, and that, I think, helped to make it true that what I said to them was not very exciting or

well done.  I wasn't very satisfied with that.  And then there was

the strange falsity of the interview with Mark, about which I felt

badly for awhile; I felt that I was foolish and lacking in perception, but I gradually came to realize I would have handled it the

same even if I had been more aware of his falseness.  Then I didn't

like the fact that they believe they are true followers of mine.  It

simply didn't seem that way to me.  So the afternoon wasn't a very

pleasant experience.  Then to go to the reception and be hit on

the head by a tree (laughter) when I went in, just seemed to be

symbolic of the day.  And then I felt out of it in the crowd at the

reception.  I'm never very good at big receptions like that.  I did

enjoy Len's rebuke of the university, his little speech, but for me

it was the most frustrating low point of the trip, and I find that I

don't like to think about it.  That shows how unpleasant a day it was for me.

 

 

RUTH:  That tree surely made an impression on you. (laughter)

 

(CARL: Definitely!)

 

RUTH: I felt much the same way, not as strongly, about Stellenbosch.

I felt that it was very proper, and very academic.  There was a great

deal of pride in saying that they were Rogerian in their psychology

department.  And yet when I saw their newly built offices (CARL: laboratory) —laboratory, I saw nothing but hardware, and maybe that's

the way they see it.  I had the feeling that they probably knew all

the right words, but didn't have a connection between their words and

their way of being.  Excepting at the reception, and I really had a

good time at the reception.

 

First of all, I met Mark, who had been the client in the interview, and was able to talk a little more with him about my feelings.

I would really like to know, I would really like to follow through,

and see whether that had an impact on him, that day.  I had something

of a feeling that it did.  Then, quite informally, I had a conversation,

first with two young women who initiated some questions about women's

groups, and I talked with them about my intimacy paper.  Some young men

joined the group, and others—1 think there probably were about six or

eight by the time we finished.  And we had a very good personal, lively

exchange, I think.  In fact, I promised to send, and have sent, copies

of a couple of papers to one of the young women.  I felt that was the

one place where I got close enough to a person to feel his or her real-

ness that day.                                                 

 

It's located in a beautiful spot:  I've never seen more magnificent mountains than those we drove through, down along the valley

on our way back to Stellenbosch from the Swiss restaurant.  And I was

glad for the first time to see people at work, as they were in the

farm commune, which I think you said were colored.  That was very interesting to me; also the fact that they did not resent being photographed.

I was very hesitant to go, to take the photograph, as I had been, and

I'm sorry now, all the way through Kwandebele, and a good deal of

Soweto, because I felt my taking photographs as an intrusion.  But I'm

glad that we did stop at that farm.  Women and children were there,

doing their laundry, with all the farm animals around.

 

 

 

CARL:  Yes, I felt we saw there a stable community of colored people who probably owned their own land, which is very rare for non-

whites to own their own land, and they seemed quite content with their

lot. It was really a very nice experience with them.

 

 

Having talked about Stellenbosch, I'll talk about the very different feelings I had about the energy at the Hohenhort Hotel conference in Capetown.  There the energy seemed very receptive and positive and warm; even the hotel staff were most understanding and really a very loving group.  And the audience, the participants, were eager and responsive, and I felt very much connected there.  The whole ambiance of the hotel and the conference was good.

 

I know as we were going into that conference that weekend, I remember quite clearly my feelings;  Johannesburg was behind us, we felt much more confident that we could handle a large group, and I had a very pleasant anticipation.  I felt sure we would be received, and

so I had some very positive feelings, along with the mild anxiety that

I always feel when I'm going to meet with a new group.

 

RUTH:  I think the climate had already been created in the

Hohenhort Hotel.   The friendliness, the informality, the genuine

interest in people which we felt in the staff, the fresh arrangements

of flowers everywhere (CARL: Um-hmm), the personal interest which

people took in one another seemed to me a part of the whole climate

of that hotel.  And I think the people who are—what did they call

themselves?  "Seekers  of the Divine Light”—were kind of a non-sectarian religious group, that they certainly created a good atmosphere.

I felt very relaxed there.  In fact, I wasn't aware of feeling

tension as I did in Johannesburg..

 

CARL:  I felt real tension at the start in Johannesburg, to be

facing six hundred people in seats bolted to the floor, knowing that

there was no opportunity, no facilities for smaller groups to meet,

and I felt  it was a very difficult challenge to be with that group

from Friday evening straight through to Sunday afternoon with just tea

breaks and meal breaks.  I felt we met that challenge, but initially I

felt quite uneasy about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUTH:  I had the sense in Capetown that people knew one another;

many of those people had been in other groups, met with other groups

before that, in community work or elsewhere.  But I did feel again

their receptivity.  I felt very welcome, felt an eagerness not only

to listen there, to come to learn, but a spontaneity and a willingness

to take on responsibility for their own, which showed up very quickly

in the small groups.  The response to the men/women group for example.

And you probably are right that part of it had to do with the increased

ease on our part.

 

CARL:  One thing in the Capetown weekend that I felt very strongly

was my admiration for Jean Naidoo.  Her passionate statement that one

person could make a difference even in the South African culture was a

tremendously stirring event, and I think a lot of people were stirred

by that.  I was so grateful that we had had the chance to meet with the

group in her home, that very diverse group representing so many colors

and nationalities and beliefs.  It was a most rewarding and exciting

learning experience.

 

RUTH:  And after having met her and with that group in her home

in Cape Flat, I have been especially touched with receiving letters

and poems from her, realizing how large was her vision.  She literally

gave her life, I think; she died only a few weeks ago. Which means I'm

doubly glad to have had that experience.

 

I'm thinking of two women in South Africa, and a trust which they

expressed, a hope that although they might not live to see a new structure and a new system in South Africa, that they they were bringing their

children into a climate where they could live in a different world, and

would expect and really demand a different world, another kind of world.

 

Jean Naidoo, with her two boys and one girl, the youngest being the

girl, who is twelve, spoke of their dedication to a new place for blacks

and colored, Indians, in the South African culture—very active in the

student groups and so on.  And then I think of Daphne in Johannesburg,

saying "I will not see these changes take place in my lifetime, but I

want my children to grow up being proud that they're black and proud that

they're living in South Africa."  It seems to me that that's a real

forward look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARL:  I think of Amanda and Hester, and some of the people we met

at Jean Naidoo's home.  You could feel the ferment of a new South Africa

coming up through the crevices and cracks.  It's quite possible that if

the government becomes more oppressive, those sprouts of a new order will

be crushed, but there's also the possibility that these do represent the

beginnings of a really new time in South Africa.  And I was so impressed

that a few people mentioned to me that they thought the apartheid system

would drop of its own weight, that young people simply did not accept it

and when they were old enough to come into power, it would simply drop

of its own heavy weight.

 

RUTH:  So that it's not just the new black generation, but the

white as well, maybe for different reasons, but nevertheless who are no

longer bowing to that kind of law.

 

CARL: I think one instance of that kind of ferment was shown in

the men/women group in the Capetown weekend.  To have people talking

openly about their love lives and about abortion and relationships

outside of marriage and feelings of insecurity in marriage and so on,

and feelings of insecurity about developing a male sex role: topics like

that are just not discussed in South Africa, but they were discussed

very openly and freely in that group, and they came to a better under-

standing of each other, better understanding I think of relationships

between men and women, and it certainly sparked much discussion outside.

So that it was a very exciting new experience, I think, for those that

were involved and for those that listened to them.

 

RUTH:  This thought just came to me:  The men/women group in Cape-

town was very effective in bringing out the issues.  I wonder whether

the men/women group in Capetown was more effective because there had

been a women's group before it?  (CARL:  Could be, could be.)  They

already had expressed some of those views in a smaller group, and the

men had said that they would like to have a men's group.  And then one

of the men spoke up and said "Why not have a men/women's group for

all of us," which was a very nice compromise.  But I felt too that

with both of them there was a great deal more of reaching for more in-

sight, more understanding between men and women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARL:  As I look back after several months, I feel that this was a

trip that was full of learnings for me.  One of them was that I learned

how difficult it is to truly understand and empathize with an alien

culture.  To try to understand the Afrikaans ruling class for example

was very difficult for me.  And the contrast between that and trying

to understand the tribal traditions represented by Credo or even

more sharply different traditions of the Masai gave me a real object

lesson in the length of time it takes and the openness of mind that

it takes to really understand the views and beliefs and convictions

of people in another culture.

 

I also believe that we left some sparks behind us that we did

make a small but perhaps a lasting difference in some of the relationships between the racial groups and between men and women.

 

I think of Africa as a land of unused resources.  So much energy is used up in enforcing their rules and regulations and in developing more and more sophisticated controls over people that many of the psychological resources go totally unused.  It's a real tragic situation in that respect.

 

RUTH:  That called up for me a way in which I have linked some of

Fritjof Capra's ideas in The Turning Point and what I saw happening in

Africa.  I also saw it in Mexico more recently, in Mexico last summer

to a less degree, and in our own Learning Experience in the East.

And that is, that Fritjof Capra believes that a part of the transformation which he sees in the offing involves a new paradigm for learning.

And when I think of learning as we have approached it, learning by the

Whole person, then it becomes also not only learning but a way of

being, a paradigm for real change.  And when I saw the hunger of people

in Africa, South Africa particularly, for communication, for thoughts,

certainly a very different kind of learning from what they get in a

university usually, I was moved to go back and look at what Fritjof Capra

had said, that at present there is no well established framework for

this kind of learning, of education or learning.  But that there are

in many places around the world small groups or individuals who are

developing new ways of thinking and organizing themselves according to

new principles.  And, he said, this will mean the gradual formation of

a network, interlocking, intercommunicating, who are finding these

new pathways to learning by the whole person, and opening up human potential.  Freeing the individual human organism, he says, to get in

touch with and to trust her or his innate wisdom—and "innate wisdom"

strikes a chord with me for Africa—runs counter to the present modes

of education, and poses a threat to the entrenched educational institutions.  But I see this stirring taking place in all these different

parts of the world. And it seems to me although this is only one alternative—it can go this way or it can go the other way to more destruction—but it seems to me that this gave me a real thrill, to feel that I was part of those small groups working here and there all over the world, and fortunately have been able to see myself as the kind of link between two or three or four of them.

 

CARL:  Yes, I think that we added to that network, helping to

build it in South Africa, and it is a most deep stirring within me to

have had contact with that kind of network in South Africa, Japan, Brazil,

Italy, France, Germany, England, Australia—it really is exciting to know

that there exists a whole network of people who are working in a way

that would bring about a really sharp shift in our way of learning, our

way of being, as you say.

 

RUTH:  And I think just now I realized that there was innate wisdom in listening  when I decided that all I could do was to be, that I

didn't go trying to tell somebody something, when I'm sure I knew

much less about it than they did.

 

CARL:  This doesn't particularly fit in anywhere, but I want to

give a little bit of the impression that I have of the area around

Capetown.  I was struck by what I would call the "Dutchness" of Stellenbosch.  Those homes were really colonial Dutch, and all the buildings,

and all of them white, which is also symbolic.  Then I loved the overwhelming beauty of the coastline.  That was a gorgeous seacoast along

there.  I was fascinated by the tempestuous meeting of the two oceans.

I don't know that I've ever seen that before.  And the majesty of the

peaks around the Cape area, and the beauty of the residential area,

and the harsh poverty of the Cape Flats, which was really pretty awful.

So there again you get the contrast which is so deeply a part of South

Africa: beauty and possibility and resources and potential, and along-

side. of that the black underside of life in South Africa.

 

RUTH;  That calls up Something of our trip from Johannesburg up to

Krueger National Park.  The rapid changes in the terrain and vegetation

impressed me greatly.  We would go first in Johannesburg—these flat topped mountains of tailings from the mine, and I remember the comment

that they're dumping there and then water seeping through and poisoning

their water supply means that they're making all of our mistakes only

faster.  But then as we went north there were great expanses of grain

and the granaries, the elevator.  There was the flatland and then

moving into the higher land the mountainous areas with steep hills and

roads winding in serpentine fashion down the steep mountain tracks.

Such beautiful clear deep blue skies I think I have never seen, and

the mountains of clouds that just pile up and up and up were really

unmatched in anything I remember.  Then I noticed in Krueger National

Park I got the feeling that life is very hard here:  it's dry, the

grass is brown and brittle, animals foraging, greenery so sparse that

when you did see a few trees you knew there had to be a waterhole or

 [a] small stream there. The overgrazing, animals being pressed further and further into a smaller area, which is overgrazed.  The drought - of course it was

dry season - but I understand that that even extended into the so called

wet season.  But it seemed to me that outside of the cities and the privileged, that life was hard and maybe hard for the privileged in a very different way.