Every Tuesday morning, the PPI-SA staff of Area Coordinators, Fellows, and management staff gather to discuss the week prior and week ahead. The meeting ends on a high note, with staff members thoroughly prepared to present relevant news to the group. PPI-SA calls that process of sharing “News to Me,” and it has served for years as a successful medium for all PPI-SA employees to practice public speaking skills on a topic of their choice.
This week, Taylor Brown played Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech. We sat in a trance, motionless, listening to MLK’s powerful message, preached on August 28th, 1963. The entire staff fell silent while MLK sang.
Afterwards, our Managing Director reflected on MLK’s influence on South Africa, the struggle of Apartheid and the racial tensions still seen in South Africa today. “MLK was a great inspiration for us here,” he said, “as Malcom X was for more militant types. Issues of humanity are not just struggles in America but worldwide; humanity is the common core that brings everyone together.“
Palpable, positive changes have happened in South Africa since the end of Apartheid, as explained by our Basketball Managing Director Mtu Zulu. ”Durban High School (DHS), the powerhouse of South African basketball, represents what MLK dreamt about, his dream where black and white kids play, live, and learn together. DHS used to teach only the privileged, white kids. Today, as I said, the school represents our Rainbow Nation as we work together to overcome our own civil rights [history].”
Past PPI-SA participants – students and graduates of DHS – have helped create this new rainbow at the formerly segregated school. As part of our vision, PPI-SA works to bridge divides between communities who otherwise would not interact through “Twinnings,” where schools from one township or area visit another. PPI – SA has also facilitated six-week exchange programs between white and township schools, opening the eyes and minds of our youth through weekly basketball and life skills programs. Though PPI-SA has deemphasized Twinnings in recent season to focus more on its HIV/AIDS education program, this semester it plans to combine Twinnings with its HIV/AIDS education program to provide meaningful experiences of both to participants.
As Sbo said, issues of humanity are worldwide. Though Martin Luther King fought for American civil rights, he spoke to the world about freedom, rights, and the pursuit of those rights for all through peaceful actions. South Africa continues to struggle, though MLK’s words resonate strongly. PPI-SA helped spread his message today, thanks to Taylor’s poignant and relevant “News to Me.” The program looks forward to continuing to work to implement his vision in South Africa this year.