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Cape Town, the Harbour, and the Rainbow

Everything was different when we arrived in Cape Town in January 1978.
Over the next four years, we learned to love the otherness and diversity.

The ideology of separate development still prevailed, which amounted to massive oppression of the vast majority of the population.

As church workers, however, we had the privilege of unhindered access to all sections of the population.

What surprised us was the overwhelming friendliness we received and with which we were treated everywhere. We never were made to feel our otherness. That also applied to our white interlocutors, who, of course, knew that we disagreed with them politically.

In the port, we worked with ship crews of the most varied nationalities. Here, too, the most salient quality was that of diversity, between nationalities and between top and bottom, upper deck and lower deck, even worse than on land. Here, too, we had free access to all decks.

On land and in port, we were always wanderers between many worlds.

For us, these four years was a time of intense learning and amazement at the diversity with which people shape their lives and enjoy their lives.

For me, it was invaluable training in dealing with diversity.

We could not know that South Africa would develop into a rainbow nation soon after our departure, but we all hoped it would.

My conclusion, my „learning“ for my work today and here, is my conviction that diversity is always an enrichment.

In my training courses and coaching sessions, I encourage people to embrace and value the infinite possibilities of diversity.

How do you feel when you encounter diversity?

PS: When we came back to Germany, everything was foreign again!