We are all aware of the crisis that South African politics and universities are in at present. In the midst of an underfunded education, a reckless cabinet reshuffle, a plummeting Rand and a president under fire, South Africans need to unite and think about what we, as individuals, and in our respective communities, can do to build this country.
At The Park Exchange, one of our aims is to create a safe space for such debate where people are encouraged to engage critically with others, even if our views differ. South Africa is in dire need of a united people working together towards equitable and substantive solutions that address the needs of all. Where we can, we should look to heal the differences that have haunted our past and continue to linger in the present. Personal testimonies and robust debate are two of the most effective and personal ways in which to achieve this aim. The Park Exchange aims to contribute to the building and transformation of South Africa by offering an opportunity to listen to the contributions of South Africans who are leaders in their fields, and by encouraging an exchange of ideas to broaden the intellectual horizon of those who attend.
The 25 March Community Talk titled A Time to Build was the first to take place in the Standard Bank Hub in Hatfield. The first speaker was Kurt Schrӧder, who shared his poem, Know Thyself, which captivated the audience and facilitated an opportunity for introspection. The second speaker was Ett Venter, a photographer who presented an excellently produced video, filmed on the streets of Pretoria. The video showed several participants sharing their views on the socio-political matters as well as the crisis on higher education and the possible solutions. Our third speaker, Dr. Matete Madiba, from the University of Pretoria, presented us with her views on possible solutions that young people should be pioneering, such as online learning, content mentoring and graduate tax.
We also had a debate surrounding the now well-known Spur incident during which two parents, from different races, were engaged in an altercation. Our debate focused on how this incident reflects on the broader perception of racism and the Apartheid legacy in South Africa, why this incident is problematic, and what should be done about it.
The conversation around A Time to Build is merely the beginning, hopefully the first of many. We trust that these conversations will filter into your everyday spaces and yield solutions that will truly bring a positive and effective change.