Three Day Conference

 Success in Africa conference is about successful projects from any discipline in the African context. The common denominator is the specific relational practices that enabled the success: Social Construction in Action. As it is a transdisciplinary conference, projects emanating from diverse contexts and disciplines will be presented, e.g. from macro mining to micro individual counselling projects.

To get people to engage in the projects, we encourage the use of different visual mediums including photos, video clips and Pecha Kucha presentations (a fun and creative presentation, that features 20 slide images for no longer than 20 seconds each, including a commentary). As this conference is conversational in nature, we encourage all the presenters to create a space for two-way conversations and dialogues as well as for attendees to participate in the conversations appreciatively and with respectful curiosity.

Morning sessions will commence with a plenary success project, making visible the sustainable success of the project. The focus will then be on how this project has achieved sustainable success through collaborative, relational and transdisciplinary practices. Project team members will be given opportunity to share their stories about the relationships that enabled the project and contributed towards its success. Applying the ideas of the World Café, large group discussions will take place where the conference attendees, together with the project representatives, will explore the collaborative, relational and transdisciplinary practices relevant to the plenary project and understand how ideas around these practices can germinate innovative collaborative practices in each conference attendee’s own work context and projects. These plenary sessions will be concluded with key note speakers to reflect on the project and discussions, inspiring and challenging the conference to richer descriptions. Keynote speakers will thus have the last word, and not the first!

The afternoon sessions will be dedicated to conference participants showcasing their Success Practices in breakaway sessions. Related success projects will be grouped together and presenters will engage by curiously and appreciatively interrogating each other’s relational success practices.


Monday 10 July 2017: Plenary Project

Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm

This project tells the story of South Africa as the land of opportunities and how a man, Mike Mcebisi Msizi, enabled transformational opportunities for the Tsitsikamma Mfengu with the phrase ‘Just Imagine’.

The introduction of South Africa’s electricity crisis in 2007 created the opportunity for Mike to creatively imagine a response to this crisis through his vision of a wind farm on the land of the Tsitsikamma Mfengu.

I can fix that and make a good business out of it too’ Mike Msizi

This dream set in motion a chain of events which resulted in partnerships which included amongst others Mike Msizi, local community members, South African companies, local government and the Danish government. It is a story where struggle, innovation, negotiation, loss, mourning, success and celebration cumulate into the transformation of many people’s lives as epitomized by the rising wind towers on the community owned land of the Tsitsikamma Mfengu. This project tells the story of how – through building and maintaining relationships – dreams are turned into reality, ensuring that the local community and environment benefit from it and by doing this, keeping the legacy of Mike Mcebisi Msizi alive.


Tuesday 11 July 2017: Plenary Project

Village of Hope

Get Connected Holdings (GCH) is a private initiative that follows an inclusive approach to find affordable and sustainable solutions to solve problems that are related to and affected by the current socio-economic realities in South Africa.  GHC targets the most immediate needs of people from disadvantaged backgrounds.  GCH is in partnership with universities, the business sector, communities as well as all levels of government.  These partnerships result in operations within numerous developmental undertakings that are related to education, health, entrepreneurship development, agriculture, environment management and tourism. The projects of GCH are underpinned by research conducted by key stakeholders in order to create sustainable solutions to the developmental challenges of the country.  These undertakings include the Villages of Hope, agri-training, waste recycling projects and a range of projects that cascade from these endeavours.

The villages of hope with its symbolic vision ‘from scars to stars’, is underpinned by the principle of ‘greening our environment’.  These human settlements provide housing, security and comfort for poor vulnerable women, children and households.

Based on the concept of the successful Village that was founded in KwaZulu-Natal in 2001, the new 20 850m² Village of Hope is situated on 285 hectare land overlooking the beautiful Hartebeespoort Dam in Kosmos in the North West Province, South Africa. The Village of Hope, modelling an African village lifestyle, tells a story of how transdisciplinary teams are collaborating together to create the possibility for 500 orphans to grow up, learn and live with dignity in a supportive and homely environment.

In this project story, the African saying – ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – is brought under the spotlight. It tells a story of collaboration between people from various disciplines, all with the same vision of creating a village of hope for vulnerable children where they are nurtured, empowered and respected as our ‘future leaders’ in their respective contexts.

Through transdisciplinary collaboration, innovative solutions to create a self-sustaining village have emerged. As a result of these innovative collaborations between many people from various disciplines to create such a village, people in the surrounding community are also benefitting. Building with recycled polystyrene, for example, offers government a much needed solution for building and construction in low cost housing projects. It also benefits the polystyrene recycling industry, including financial benefits to workless (and often homeless) people who collect recycling products to sell to recycling factories. GCH’s recycling project focuses on the elevation of ‘waste pickers’ that are working on refuse dumps to become shareholders in an entrepreneurial structure at local level.  This initiative, amongst others, creates sustainable jobs for unskilled labour in historically disadvantaged communities.  The project includes also the collection of polystyrene waste products from households that will be recycled into usable raw materials.

The beautifully designed, state of the art structures are built entirely from a revolutionary new building and construction methods that incorporate recycled polystyrene. With the option of good quality building material at a reduced cost, the village offers several houses, early childhood development centres,  primary school building, health clinic, internet café, agricultural training centre and sport facilities, all aimed at nurturing and developing the youth.  With the buildings in place, supported by solar power and water purifying systems, the village is now ready to host the children and all the ‘villagers’ who are collaborating in this passion to ‘raise a child’.  Through the collaboration of the transdisciplinary team an awe-inspiring Village of Hope has been established that offers dignified live style and growth opportunities for all.


Wednesday 12 July 2017: Plenary Project 

The Practices of Pastoral Care and Counselling Communities

Social Constructionist practices existed long before Social Constructionism was ‘invented’ or ‘discovered’. The ‘invention’ of Social Constructionism as a theory with subsequent applications and practise, however did have a great effect on human living and how we construct and develop it – ourselves and our practices. The fountains of social constructionism in this sense, through its formal theories, together with the fountains of Narrative Therapy ideas and practices, together formed a stream of water in South Africa and some of it neighbouring countries. One specific stream is the delta of pastoral care and counselling discourse. One of the founder discoverers of Narrative Therapy, recently remarked that narrative in South Africa, found its own way specifically in the Christian pastoral context, more than in social work and psychology compared to other Western countries.

Innovative and life-giving pastoral practices are offered to communities, groups and individuals that are relevant and respectful to the diverse African context, which is saturated with differences and variety. Standing on the shoulders of social construction theory, pastoral caregivers are enabled to partner with a transdisciplinary team to contextually respond to the challenges people and communities face.

This story is about two institutions which over the past 20 years, have each developed pastoral care and counselling practices that, in many ways, have become oases of life for many people and communities. The stories of pastoral care at the Northfield Methodist Church and the Coram Deo Pastoral Care Centre at the Dutch Reformed Church Constantia Park, will be told. Both these centres have, in different and various ways, developed counselling centres, community projects and lay counselling training programmes which have become oases of hope. The ways in which relational practices – landscapes of action (in Narrative language) – watered their growth to become identified with who they are now, will be unpacked.

During this plenary project, two South African based pastoral care organisations will engage in conversation about how they have negotiated their pastoral journey with communities, groups and individuals based on a social construction, transdisciplinary approach. This plenary project aims to tell how new possibilities are created through collaborative practices which are inclusive of both cultural and religious narratives that inform people’s lives.