A community, by my layman definition, is a group of individuals with a shared mission, goal or purpose. There should ideally be leadership, with distinct roles, policies and platforms that govern the interaction of the community. Communities can be large, vibrant ecosystems. They may not be as organised as we think, maybe things just work because it is easy to see what needs to be done, when it needs doing and there is someone there to do it. Communities may also be much smaller and much slower paced spaces with little structure but clear goals make it easy to always know what the next step should be. 

The Indaba is our thriving community.

As we inch closer to the main event, I’d like to reflect upon the fact that communities are made up of individuals, that is all of us. 

That the whole is composed of component parts, and that outside the roles and policies, I think the two primary underlying processes for each of us as individuals are to give and to take. 

With that, I’d like to challenge all of us as the ‘people of the indaba’, to reflect upon what or how it is we give, and what or how it is we take: 

  • A sense of community or purpose 
  • A platform for learning, for accessing opportunities or for showcasing your work
  • Exposure to different cultures and an opportunity to travel
  • Friendship, mentorship or allyship
  • Leadership, direction and a sense of safety

I certainly hope you see yourself, what you give and/or what you take, in one or more of these suggestions. 

Whether you do or do not, for those of us that are repeat attendees of the Indaba, I propose as a base, that it is your obligation as an individual to grow in the time between our meetings so that when we do meet, you bring a better version of yourself. 

One tree doesn’t make a forest. But no forest can replace the beauty of a single tree. 

That being said…

What is the next version of yourself bringing to the Indaba?

How have you worked to improve yourself, your research, work or study, in the time since our last meeting? What are you coming to give when we next meet in Accra? 

-Kathleen Siminyu, Programme Chair (2023) and Member of the Executive Board. June 2023.