Jillian Reilly is the “Troublemaker in residence” of the journal of good governance “Africa in Fact”

2017 is happening! 0

2017 is happening!

Posted by on 23rd Jan, 2017

So 2017 is happening. Apparently. My kids went back to school today. Which means I need to officially look this year in the eyes. With them around I could feign distraction — avoid plans or promises in the name of being present. The quiet in the house brings with it a kind of reckoning. What do I make of this year? What can I make this year? I’m supposed to be making lists, aren’t I? Wish lists, to do lists, declarations of independence from the debacle that was 2016. Yes, like so many others I felt gutted by 2016. Gutted of belief in common sense and common decency and a shared common humanity. It’s vicious and devious out there right now, and I’m not sure humans have a cure for what ails us. I no longer believe in progress. Or in happy endings. Shit happens. Shit happened. And yet 2017 is happening as well. And I find myself scratching around for belief amidst the wreckage. Because in 2016, l didn’t just lose faith in my fellow human, I lost a little bit of belief in myself as well. When everything is falling around you, it’s hard to keep standing tall, clear eyed and resolute. Can I really change this...

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Blessed 0


Posted by on 20th Jul, 2016

This week, the HIV/AIDS Conference in Durban taught me a word I didn’t know. A word I wish I didn’t know: “Blesser”. A cruel and ironic word given that these Blessers seem mostly to bestow curses. Back in my day, “Blessers” were called “Sugar Daddies”. You know, men who exchange gifts and favours for sex. But they’ve been rebranded and relaunched with improved efficiency. Because there’s now a Blessers App; even a Blessers Facebook page. Ah, progress. Indeed, in so many ways, it seems SugarDaddy 2.0 is a perceived improvement on the original model. Because a Blesser might drive you to the hotel in his Range Rover rather than a Toyota; and when he whispers his sweet blessings in your ear it will smell of Chivas rather than Black Label. Seems Blessers are getting slicker. And sicker. Because transactional, inter generational sex is now one of the leading causes of the spread of HIV in Southern Africa. Or to put it in plain language: older, more affluent men exploiting younger, economically and culturally vulnerable women, is now driving the spread of HIV in southern Africa. To the point that young women aged 15-24 are now at greatest risk of HIV infection. Given these statistics, we can presume these “Blessers”...

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It’s Mandela Day 0

It’s Mandela Day

Posted by on 18th Jul, 2016

It’s Mandela Day, today, July 18. Does everybody know? Does anybody care? It’s so hard to care these days, living in this world of ours. Honour killing. Attempted coup. Terror attack. Mass shooting.  And that’s just the last week. Oh wait, Trump. Can’t leave out Trump.  It’s so hard to care in these Trumped up Times. Mandela Day can feel like little more than a passing, sentimental ode to a time when Leaders actually led. But maybe, more than ever, we need to care about Mandela Day 2016. Not for a brief dose of feel good; nor for a short episode of doing good. But because we need to see Mandela Day 2016 as an opportunity – a chance – not just to change our worlds, but to create new ones. That’s what Mandela did, right? He tried to create a new reality for South Africa. His magic – the reason we honour him yearly – is not because he led a process of ending apartheid, but because he led a frightened, divided nation towards creating the New South Africa. Mandela knew the difference between an Ending and a Beginning. He knew the difference between Fighting against something evil and Fighting for something just. Mandela knew it took principles...

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Posted by on 15th Jul, 2016

Few of us would call ourselves Artists. And yet each of us has her “way”. Her way of walking in the world. Of getting things done. Her way of making her presence felt. Skills, talents, personality traits, beliefs – they comprise our Artistry. Jane Austen had her writing. Trevor Noah his humour. Beyonce uses her music. The Pope his religion. Each of these Troublemakers uses his or her Artistry to speak their Truth, to assert their Identities in this world, and to realize their sense of Purpose. Troublemaking becomes possible when we express our authentic selves – our whole selves — to the world. In that sense Troublemaking is so natural – so much more effective — when it comes as an expression of your personal Artistry. Artistry transforms Troublemakers from Pirates to Pioneers. Critics to creatives. We become more than hollow echoes of grievances or assent. So much more than Yes or No people. We represent possibility: the possibility that out of divisions and rancor something new could be born. New perspectives, new ways of seeing, new relationships. Artistry becomes a telegraph for Hope. This Mandela Day, name your Artistry. Claim it. And decide how you’re going to express it to make some Trouble in your...

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Empathy not Sympathy

Posted by on 13th Jul, 2016

This Mandela Day let’s try replacing sympathy with empathy, pity with understanding. Sympathy is natural, even intuitive. But its power is limited. Sympathy doesn’t break down barriers; it just makes us less guilty existing in our privileged and separate worlds. But empathy, it’s a kind of emotional glue that can hold our increasingly diverse societies together. Empathy has the power to transform, to disrupt. Because it suggests that difference need not be divisive: that rich and poor, black and white, male and female, North and South share a common humanity that transcends identity politics. These days empathizing with those Other than us feels like the most radical act of all. So how about this Mandela Day we enrich that desire to help somebody by getting to know that person better? Not just their needs, but their ambitions and their desires. Who they’re in love with, what they’re afraid of. To truly celebrate Rolihlahla let’s not just donate things to people we perceive as disadvantaged, let’s sit down to a meal with those people. Have a cup of tea with them. Or at least know their names, look them in the eyes, shake their hands. Recognise — and relate to — the fullness of their humanity. Troublemaking isn’t just about...

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What’s A TroubleMaker? 0

What’s A TroubleMaker?

Posted by on 11th Jul, 2016

A Troublemaker keeps coming back with questions no one will ask. He won’t settle for partial truths or uncertain answers. She refuses to follow conventions that control or imprison herself or the people of her society. He is committed to a cause–a greater vision of what might be—as his lifeblood. Practice these behaviors. Tone your Troublemaking muscles, one courageous conversation at a time.   Start with people you love and move outwards from there: Your partner. A friend. Your boss. Your cleric. A politician. And, yes, maybe one day even your President. Few of us will ever change THE world the way Nelson Mandela did. But how about we start with OUR world. This Mandela Day, Find Your Inner Troublemaker and start to introduce her to your...

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