“Healing our wounds begins the work of healing our spaces”
This session took the form of an intergenerational conversation between Ashraf Adam and Thandie Mafa from the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA). The conversation drew from both their past experiences and life stories, to gain an understanding of who they are. Confronting their own upbringing, Ashraf and Thandie were able to draw a natural connection between their lived experience and the work they are doing now, and why intangible interventions are so important for development. The session demonstrated how practitioners, having been subject to trauma themselves, need adequate mental and physical health care to be equipped in working with wounded communities. Ashraf shared his experiences as a young student anti-apartheid activist, while Thandie shared the challenges of working to restore dignity in communities subdued by apartheid planning. The mirroring of these experiences demonstrated the continuous struggle for improved livelihoods, dignity and equality. The MBDA and SACN are both doing work that acknowledges the more psycho-social elements of development. It is these kinds of spaces that validate the needs of practitioners and by extension, the communities they work in, as cities are about more than the tangible.
Ashraf Adam is the CEO of MBDA and a leading urban policy and strategy leader and thinker, and Thandie Mafa is an infrastructure project manager and leads psychosocial community projects at the MBDA.