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Let the walls come down

20 Jan 2019 at 09:37hrs | Views
The recent shutdown in Zimbabwe stirred a lot of reflective moments as I took time to engage some critical thinking and problem-solving mechanisms in a bid to find solutions that could address our broader socio-economic challenges as a nation beyond the fuel crisis.

The closure of convenience stores and broader social amenities once again brought about the glaring realisation of how the architecture and infrastructure of our society has sadly become rather individualistic and divided by walls. The inability to access daily conveniences exposed the need for the spirit of community, a relational spirit which by design was deeply entrenched in African origins. As the typical Zimbabwean day of business hustling, office work, informal trade and school trips had been suddenly brought to a halt, people stayed indoors facing the music of their provisions and food reserves or lack thereof.

Who is your neighbour?

With the dependence and reliance on the transport network and internet-based social networks having been interrupted, the gaps and shortcomings of what we ordinarily boast of and consider as progress became very apparent. The stayaway took place against the backdrop of a taxing week for most families who had barely recovered from the staggering shock of escalating school fees and costs of school uniforms. Coming from the pressures of the December holiday and festive season-related expenditures, disposable incomes were at an all-time low and many families had not had the opportunity to restock their grocery and general food supplies. Many who were caught unawares by the call for the nationwide stayaway without adequate food supplies for their families scurried to secure the little they could find from the few remaining outlets that had risked remaining open for business. By the second day, however, there was total silence in neighbourhoods as families heeded the calls to stay indoors for safety. Resultantly, with this dead silence also came the complete closure of all trading and roadside market stalls which was further aggravated by lack of access to information when the internet-based communications were shut down.

The sound of silence from the erected walls became very loud in most urban areas. Even in areas where physical walls do not exist, the realisation that neighbourly support systems were desperately needed became apparent. As children stayed indoors, their gnawing hunger placed a larger demand on the dwindling family food reserves. With no convenience outlets to seek refuge from, families had to face the music of what they individually had in store. The tangible and intangible walls between homes could easily be felt where relationships were not cordial and in most instances where neighbours did not even know each other. Long-distance relationships and social connectedness was put to the test as the comfort of social networks had been taken. Faced with such stark realities, the question begs: Who is your neighbour?

The power of community

As I took time to refine my goals for 2019 and broader life plan strategy, I also took time to peruse through some of the assignments and personal development plans that had been recently submitted by my life coaching clients. I took a particular interest on our aggregate scores on the Wheel of Life exercise as it pertained to our social and networking levels. This is an area that most of us had generally scored poorly, citing various reasons from the busy schedules to geographical distance from close family and friends, amongst many other factors. With some ample time on my hands to spare as business had come to a halt, I also took time to review some of my published work and other literature that had slowly been piling on my bedside reading shelf. As I tried to find solutions to our current socio-economic challenges from three of my books, The Wealthy Diary of African Wisdom, Intelligent Conversations: A Mindset Shift Towards a Developed Africa and the recently published The Connection Factor for Leaders, I found a common thread towards our solution - strategies developed from community, conversation and connectedness.

In December 2018, I had the opportunity to attend a Laws of Thinking Seminar hosted by Professor Mandivamba Rukuni. I had taken the occasion to invest in some of his Wisdom Afrika Leadership Academy publications. The downtime during the stay-away gave me an opportunity to interact with some of his thoughts on African development issues. Of particular note were two of his books, Being Afrikan (2007) and Leading Afrika (2009).
As I read through the two sets of literature, I realised that in spite of a few differences in our belief systems, there was a strong common thread that existed on the need for Africans to bring the walls down and strengthen the architecture of their family and community institutions.
In Chapter 8 of Leading Afrika, he proposes that the wealth of the African cultural paradigm which values relationships, is a great gift that can leverage Africa's competitiveness in the global village. As I reviewed and reflected on these different pieces of literature, I came to the realisation that unless we as a people allow our borrowed individualistic ways of thinking to pave way for the wealth of our African heritage found in relational thinking, we could be a long way from developing African solutions to our African challenges in this volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous world.

Intelligent conversations through connectedness

As Albert Einstein correctly stated, "the significant problems that we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that we were at when we created them." As we all lead with agility from where we are in our different spheres of influences, let us be mindful of the need for engaging with diverse stakeholders for intelligent conversations in order to develop holistic solutions for our personal, societal and national challenges.

Cynthia Chirinda Hakutangwi is an organisational and personal development consultant, life coach, author, and strategist. Her two new additions to the Connection Factor Collection The Connection Factor for Leaders and The Connection Factor for Women speak to matters that position organisational leaders and women respectively, to achieve greater levels of success through their strategic connections. Looking at improving your career, personal effectiveness, communication skills, relationships, focus, faith and happiness? Wholeness Incorporated Coaching offers you strategies you can implement today to review your progress and achieve your goals. E-mail: LinkedIn: Cynthia Chirinda Hakutangwi. Mobile: +263 717 013 206. Website:

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