In South Africa, and we have a trust deficit that affects the quality of our relationships with others and hinders us from getting to know each other better. This deficit is largely fuelled by divisions based on race, ethnicity, class, gender and socio-economic levels. Despite celebrating over 21 years of our democracy, the past few years have seen an increase in racist comments, behaviours and posts on social media platforms, as well as continued actions of an overtly prejudiced nature.
Enough is enough! We cannot allow the scourge of prejudice, racism and mistrust to derail our dream of being a reconciled nation.
For us to break down the things that divide us we need to understand better the people we interact with on a daily basis. Understanding builds trust.
At Heartlines, the Centre for Values Promotion, we believe in the power of personal storytelling to create trust and understanding. We believe this will ultimately break down prejudice and reconcile us to each other.
Enter What’s Your Story?, a story-based programme to promote trust, understanding and greater social cohesion (developed in partnership with various interest groups and South African faith-based leadership).
Our aim is to reach 10 million people nationally with our media narratives and to have at least 3 million people tell and listen to each other’s stories in order to build greater trust and social cohesion.
When we listen to each other’s stories, we begin to see the human being behind the “other’s” race or ethnicity and realise how similar we are. Best practice with regard to attitude and behaviour change shows that stories are the most effective change agents, as they impact on people both emotionally and intellectually. Hearing another’s story opens up the potential for reconciliation, mutual respect and understanding.
The pillars of this campaign will be:
Resource supported mobilisation
We will mobilise people where they work, pray, study or play by providing them with resources that help them set up and support the story telling process. These will include short videos that will stimulate debate and encourage people to tell and listen to each other’s stories. We will also seed these across multiple social media platforms including, Facebook, You Tube and Twitter. This part of the campaign should launch around April 2016.
Feature film – “Beyond the River”
We are producing a popular film based on the true story of a young black man from an informal settlement who teamed up with an older white male school teacher to win gold in the Dusi Canoe Marathon. It aims to resonate deeply with a range of audiences and stimulate dialogue and action. The film will go into production in October and be ready for its cinema release in September 2016.
Media led discussion
Using the film and social media as catalysts, we will drive discussions on TV, radio, digital and in print media, designed to inspire people to join the campaign and ask each other “What’s your story?”
The campaign has the support of the National Planning Commission, the Desmond Tutu foundation, Mandela Foundation, GIBS, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Reos Partners, African Leadership Initiative, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Helen Suzman Foundation, SACC, African Enterprise, to name a few . It further has the support of all the major religious groupings in the country.