Chapter 1: Background

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BRAINSTORMING (THE LEKGOTLA WAY): the African brainstorming concept is the Lekgotla concept. The participants demonstrate the highest respect to fellow members of the dialogue. The participant who is on the floor is given full space to raise issues without being interrupted. Once all the participants have raised their issues and have been fully heard, the chairperson summarizes the inputs and a resolution is taken. People are also allowed to agree to disagree. This is the best South African export in negotiations and conflict resolutions to the world.

THEMES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS: Over and above the Face to Face Networking opportunity created by the dialogues, the fastest growing platform for social and professional networking is the Social Media. We aim to publish the resolutions of dialogues on social media platforms to spark continuous discussions and generate more insights and global knowledge exchange.

KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE: The continent of Africa has for a very long time been associated with negativity. The emergence of the internet and access to broadband is going to bring the countries in Africa much closer to each other and to the world. The African intellectuals have not yet taken their space in the global bodies of knowledge because of lack of connectivity. We see the opportunity to help the African intellectuals to take their rightful place in the global knowledge space through technology in this 4th Industrial Revolution era.

BODIES OF KNOWLEDGE FORUMS: The monthly themes deliberated in the dialogues constitute a diverse grouping of bodies of knowledge. These themes will be repeated every year, and aim to grow the membership of each forum/network. These members would hopefully stay connected and grow their knowledge base through writing, presenting at conferences, workshops and other public forums. They will become available to each other in their professional work. This will, in turn, contribute to the intellectual enterprise development sector.

MONTHLY FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTION & JOINT LEARNING: Professionals are constantly looking for the opportunities to reach out to each other, interact and network. It is a professional need to be in the community of fellow professionals and discuss issues of common interest. We want the participants to look forward to meet their peers in a trusted and harmonious setting. That is our value-add to the professionals' growth. Joint learning platforms are what we believe in and commit to provide to our regular attendees of our monthly dialogues.

KNOWLEDGE SHARING, THE UBUNTU WAY OF COLLECTIVE GROWTH: Sharing of any sort is Ubuntu in African culture. We should do better when it comes to knowledge sharing. We can contribute to the world knowledge base through the Ubuntu way of sharing and collective growth. By staging these dialogues, we are saying that the knowledge does not reside with the facilitators, the hosts, and guest speakers, but with the participants themselves. Ours is to provide the opportunity and the platforms on which to share the knowledge, insights, experiences, and wisdoms. That is the African Ubuntu Way.

PLATFORM FOR COLLECTIVELY CREATING NEW KNOWLEDGE: It is very difficult to create and develop knowledge as an isolated individual. Every time one engages in a group dialogue new thoughts emerge. That is the power of collective thinking. We are confident that our dialogues would become the home for many journalists, opinion makers, broadcasters, etc. We are in need of creative reporting and writing. Knowledge and information is the food for the brain, and we must make sure that quality information and knowledge is created.

A CAPTIVE SOURCE & HOME FOR RESEARCHERS: The researchers want to know that they are engaging with people who are constantly plugging their minds and generating new knowledge and information. They also want to know that they have access to people who could be pulled into their research teams to contribute to their research work. Our dialogues would become the place at which research organizations and potential researchers would meet. We will be encouraged to see research engagements initiated at our dialogues.

COLLABORATION IN LEARNING & CATCHING UP WITH TRENDS: South Africa is perceived to be a consumer country rather than a production country. This is in both goods and service sectors. The same applies in the knowledge sector. Yet we have many cutting edge innovations started in this country, only to be perfected in other countries. We want this country to be the origin, manufacturing and testing of new ideas, before these ideas are converted into products, solutions and service offerings that can be commercialised in other countries.

FUN & EXCHANGING IDEAS: The professionals, academics, students, and industrialists are very busy and stressed people. They cannot disengage from their professional work. Our dialogues will demonstrate to these professionals that they can have fun while fulfilling their duties. We will also bring in other practitioners from other sectors. There is a belief that intellectuals have been sidelined in the new South Africa. We do not agree with this assertion. What is missing are platforms where professionals and intellectuals will be affirmed that they have a huge role to play in this country. As multiparty democracy is developed in this country, the intellectuals will be sought after to inform policy and practices.

NETWORKING WITH THOUGHT LEADERS: Thought leaders are the most difficult people to bring under one roof. Our dialogues treat each thought leader and professional as a unique individual, while supporting them to interact and network with fellow thought leaders in a trusted atmosphere. The venues of our monthly dialogues are carefully selected, as we understand the preferences of our guests. The media officials also understand that this is not the place for a scoop, but rather a genuine knowledge-sharing environment.

RECONNECTING WITH BUSY PROFESSIONALS: South Africa is a big country. It is possible for professionals to spend years without meeting and seeing each other. Professionals and colleagues must be able to meet each other with little or no effort. This is what our monthly dialogues promise to offer to the professionals. Those based in other regions of the country, are encouraged to visit the host regions on days of our dialogues, or mobilize enough interests in their regions and invite our mobile dialogues to visit the regions.

RELEVANCE IN KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION AGE: It is now a number of years since we entered the Knowledge and Information Age. We are still in it and we would like to make maximum benefit of it. We also want to contribute to this age. It is not necessarily as stressful as many believe. It requires us to have positive attitude toward it. Further, we must appreciate the role that technology plays in this age. Technology is an enabler rather than a nuisance. And we have choices as to the type of technology we want to engage with rather than stressing about it. The worst mistake is to have negative attitude to this age and reject technology. We will be further isolated as a result of our own resistance. Our dialogues will stage topics that will offer options to the professionals on how to engage in this era. What will follow this era is going to be more disempowering than we think. For example, technology will drive our vehicles, service us, diagnose diseases, and information will be stored in the cloud as it is always the case. This could become scary. It will increase our fears and stress levels. Let us embrace the changes and technology trends in our lives.

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