Platform for people to start talking

Don Makatile

Don Makatile

I'm just back from a long leave that I could have enjoyed had it not been for the lout who, when the brakes failed in his contraption that should not have been on the road in the first place, ploughed into a car that had my youngest son as a passenger.

Well, Mosa is a strong young soul. He's out of hospital and recuperating at home.

Thanks for the prayers.

During all this melee, nothing made sense, until about two days ago when I was dragged into a meeting with four young visionaries from Soweto.

They were mindful of the surname and knew that neither did I own a soccer club nor appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine - they did not ask for money.

What the quartet wants is to start a public deliberation platform. They want to elevate bar-room talk to another level. If it is not racist to say it; whites, Indians and all sorts of other people have these discussions all the time. Unlike us, they do not sit in a shebeen, speak highfalutin English then go back home to prepare for another night at the watering hole.

When they sit and speak, they follow up on their ideas.

Intellectual Xolela Mangcu has moved this self-same idea across the road from Wits to the University of Johannesburg. It was like, in township parlance, taking coal to Witbank - the folks in suburbia are used to such talk forums.

One Johannesburg newspaper title has firmly attached its name to these sessions. So did another newspaper group with the explosion of xenophobia attacks last year.

But the truth is that, unlike koeksisters and barmitzvah, getting together to deliberate over niggling worries is a black thing. We even have words like iBhunga in the beautiful language of Nongqawuza, and kgotla in the lilting mother tongue of Seretse Khama.

They are not without meaning. What they represent is men, women - and sometimes with their children - coming together to thrash out whatever ill afflicts them at a particular time.

I do not own a crystal ball to say how the Soweto initiative is going to unfold going forward. But the four people who gave birth to the idea need to be commended, if for anything.

As you read this, the inaugural session would have taken place yesterday. They tell me they have secured the venue - the old UBC Building in Jabulani, for a year.

All they wish to achieve, a passion I share, is for people to start talking.

Is affirmative action kosher as articulated by the ANC or does it make more sense the Cope way? How do we understand this if we don't invite the experts to places like Jabulani to unpack the issue?

Everything can't happen in Morningside only, or Clifton for that matter.

We wish them well.

But as they unravel the mysteries of these compact issues in Jabulani, maybe we can do the same through the pages of this paper.

l Write in. Fill this space. Tell us what irks you.

No witchcraft tales. Leave that to Tokyo.