News & events


15 June 2017

Six week pilot programme which aims to produce a model for inter-race discussion

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Dr van Rooyen hosts Dr Makgathi Mokwena and Angela Hough-Maxwell at Sweetwaters on Tuesday 13 June 2017.  Dr Mokwena and Ms Hough-Maxwell are the facilitators of a range of community discussions on the state of race relations in the country.  A range of participants from the community of Sweetwaters will participate in a six week pilot programme which aims to produce a model for inter-race discussions which can contribute positively to social cohesion and the building a new South African nationhood.

The Community Dialogues follow the Racism Dialogues which inspired the HSRC to broaden the conversation on race, by extending it to the community level to assess how ordinary South Africans experience racism and sexism in the everyday.

The Community Dialogues pilot project was launched with this question in mind, and seeks to provide a platform for facilitated face-to-face dialogue and meaningful engagement between the various race groups in South Africa, so as to assist individuals to work through the conflict of the past and improve future relations between the different groups. The Community Dialogue pilot project is currently being held in a community hall in Sweetwaters community, KwaZulu-Natal. The project will run over a six week period (from 5 June to 10 July) by two facilitators, with one 3-hour session held once per week.

The intergroup dialogue model, which is used as the basis for the Community Dialogues pilot project, offers opportunities for engagement across lines of difference. These intergroup encounters provide a forum that fosters honest, thoughtful, and significant conversations about difficult or controversial issues across race and other social group boundaries, such as gender, class or religion.

By encouraging open and reflective communication about difficult topics, such as power, privilege, and inequality, intergroup dialogues help participants build skills for developing and maintaining relationships across differences, while also enhancing their ability to work together toward social justice.  Sustained communication, critical social awareness, and bridge building form the foundation of the intergroup dialogue model. 

The model is also comprised of four stages:

Stage One: Group Beginnings – Forming and Building Relationships
Stage Two: Exploring Differences and Commonalities of Experience
Stage Three: Exploring and Dialoguing about Hot Topics
Stage Four: Action Planning and Alliance Building

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)