By Bongeka Mhlongo
It was a beautiful evening in Sandton South Africa when I first heard the name, Dr Gavin Andersson, while attending a UCT Graduate Business School event. It was a time where the wearing of masks was reserved for doctors, nurses, and people working with heavy chemicals. The days before COVID 19.
The MC introduced Dr Andersson as one of the guest speakers for the evening in conversation with a visiting professor from abroad. It is the words he used to introduce him that struck me the most. He said, “Dr Andersson is one of the gems of this continent. An unsung hero.”
Dr Andersson delivered a quick response to the visiting professor’s talk, followed by the most interesting Q&A session, during which I came to understand the reference to him being a “gem of this continent” – the way in which he approached the questions was different, fresh and exciting.
After the session, I wanted to meet this man. So, I looked him up and connected on LinkedIn. I sent him a message on the impact of his talk around a sense of community at work and asked if I could meet him to hear more about it. To my amazement, he said YES! Our meeting changed my thinking forever – I was left in awe of his life and his contribution to the liberation movement. He also gave me a book he co-authored with, Dr Howard Richards, titled, “Unbounded Organizing in Community.”
On top of the easy-to-read style of the book, the practical guidelines of how people and communities can organise themselves to bring about social change blew my mind.
In so many ways, this meeting has contributed to me living out my purpose and contributing to human progress in some shape or form. Our meeting, the gift of the book, and the idea of ‘collective purpose’ helped conceptualise ideas in my head, which propelled me forward in leaps and bounds.
I have come to believe that, while our blood ties are important, it is the relations we are connected to by purpose, that help us to change the world.
One of my favourite statements from the book is the way they define ‘organisation’. Organisation is, “getting together to do things we cannot do alone.” This resonated so deeply with me because we have seen, in our organisation and in our various teams, that working together with other people brings insight, ideas, and resources that one would not have thought of working alone. Working with a community of people also challenges you to show up in the world with a holistic offering that caters to diverse needs.
‘Purpose’ is the highest human ritual because it cuts across all of our different backgrounds and social limitations. Our organisations thrive when we are purpose-related, the magic is in bringing together like-minded people to achieve a bigger and much-needed vision.
You can order the “Unbounded Organizing in Community” book by clicking below: