South Africa News

Reflections from Africa Liberation Day in South Africa

Tags: decolonisation, South Africa, Wellbeing Economy
Published on June 21, 2023

Written by: Ana Gómez Network Co-Lead WEAll

I’ve been a traveller since I was 18/19 years old. I have lived in many different countries around the world, but I had never visited South Africa. 2023 has given me the incredible opportunity to travel there and in the best format ever, with the guidance of my colleague Thobile Chittenden, her collaborator from Makers Valley, Fiza Mahmood and our unique WEAll Ambassador, Lebohang Liepollo Pheko.

Africa Dinner

I just need to tell you that because of those 3 women, plus many other impressive human beings, this trip was an unforgettable one. So let me take you on this journey with me… because as travellers always say, when you travel, you travel 3 times: 1) when you are preparing, planning and designing, 2) when you are actually there and 3) when you share with everyone who is truly interested… So, let me take you there 🙂 

South Africa and more broadly, Africa, has been the core theme in different conversations with AMPs and with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance from the very starting days. WEAll Africa, Ambassadors like Lebohang Liepollo Pheko and many other members were part of the very initial conversations of WEAll. So, it’s not going to be a surprise to you, whoever is reading, that we have wanted to be a good ally in South Africa, and East Africa through the Hub that Suzan Joy has been keeping alive and connected to the wider movement and especially now that one of our key AMP team member is from South Africa herself, Thobile.  

However, as you all know, in these initial years of existence of WEAll, we’ve been more active in the minority world. This is something we’re changing, not at the speed we desire but our commitment is there and you have probably noticed and continue to notice that our attention, our support and our vocabulary is changing in order to recognise and approach the thriving and so much ignored majority world. 

I don’t know South Africa, I only spent 2 weeks there, we went to Johannesburg (Jozi) and Cape Town… There is 1.398 kms that separates those two cities and Thobile and I took a 21 hour bus ride from one city to the other!! It was a real adventure, very tiring and uncomfortable but OMG what incredible views we enjoyed from the bus! 

Bus trip south africa wellbeing economy

South Africa is definitely beautiful and interesting, not only because of the landscapes, mountains, vineyards, cities and villages, for their incredible trees and flowers, animals and human beings, not just for their colours everywhere you look around, or their history and stories, smiles, community feeling and belonging, openness, and honest hugs…but because this beauty happens to co-exists along side load-shedding, visible inequality with mansions sitting next to degenerate areas, transportation plagued with many challenges… South Africa is a complex country for so many reasons, and I’m just starting to understand it but gosh it’s beautiful and vibrant…

Colours South AFrica Wellbeing Economy

It’s because of this context that we’ve been very respectful when planning on our Africa Liberation Dinners. Both of them happened close to Africa Liberation Day (May 25th) and because of that we wanted to keep in mind that the purpose of these gatherings was to connect and build sincere relationships  with key actors and changemakers in South Africa, it was to listen to them, it was to learn to be a good ally, it was never to discuss what a Wellbeing Economy was, it was not about creating a WEAll Hub, it was about centering them and putting in the time, effort, love and care into the nourishing of these connections. 

AFrica day weall

We have accomplished the purpose of these gatherings with great success, the feedback received by those who attended was impressive, there are already so many offerings to bring everyone together again and moreover,  there are those that are seriously considering the creation of a WEAll South Africa Hub. Participants have been engaging with us after those dinners, they want more and they want it now, and we are going to make sure this will happen. 

One thing it was clear for the four of us is the gratitude for providing a space for CONNECTIONS, for true and deep and tough conversations, for providing a space where people listened to each other. And we’ll continue doing so in collaboration with those who were present and by engaging with others who could not make it or we have not yet met. 

South Africa dinner gatherine


And because I am genuinely interested in this relationship, I’m going to continue engaging with SA. I want more dinners together, more smiles, laughs and serious conversations. I want us to have a future of togetherness, of sharing, of healing together, more spirit of KANALA … I want to share love for each other, and that will require time and dedication and I’m up for it. 

Now I can say I have been in Africa, but I will need a lifetime and beyond to say that I know Africa. I was in South Africa, but I do not know South Africa. One day, I hope we can say we know each other well. 

So apart from the local work that needs to be supported and highlighted, WEAll wants to build more bridges between South Africa, East Africa, Africa and the minority world. We want to contribute to building more bridges from Africa to Latin America and Asia. We want to be good allies to what’s happening in the majority world. There is commitment within WEAll to recognise where we have not been explicit enough, there has been humility in recognising we don’t have all the answers, however, we want to start by acknowledging, accepting and supporting the voices who have deep wisdom to share.

And here is the call to those who are reading this personal blog: if you are up for the challenge, if you want to learn together about allyship, if you are based in another country or region or somewhere else in Africa and you want to connect and contribute: then get in touch with us! We need EVERYONE and we want to make sure we support the connections that follow. 

As you all know, relationships need to be built, trust needs to be built in order to bring the togetherness that’s needed to impact on a bigger scale and in a more holistic way. We are aware of the many incredible initiatives there, and we wanted to show respect and true interest to engage with them, support them in everything that is needed and plan together what else needs to be happening. 

Want to join
the discussion?
Let us know what
you would like
to write about!