Olita Talent Nyathi
Birthday: January 5, 1961
Education: Honors Degree Political Economy Leipzi/Dresden German Democratic Republic, Certificate and trained in Adult Education in Zimbabwe, Diploma in Development Studies Kimmage Ireland
Occupation: Volunteer facilitator at The Grail Center
Please describe your vision of a world that works for everyone.
Have a world where all living species live symbiotically, have respect and space for each other.
What do you see as the most pressing problems facing the world today?
I think the most pressing problem in the world is ‘wealth’ Wealth accumulation and distribution is at the center of the world crisis. I believe that there is enough wealth in the world for all, but it is in the hands of a few. The question we should be discussing in my opinion is ‘How do we get people to share?’ Because greedy is escalating. Human beings’ quest for wealth, have power and control over resources has caused wars, environmental degradation that they cannot control.
How do you feel these problems could best be solved?
There is no straight answer. I am fascinated by the Brazilian thinker, Paulo Freire, who wrote in his book, Education for Critical Consciousness that human beings are beings of reflections and action ‘Praxis’. He goes on to suggest that this is the time when people ask the critical question ‘Why?’ which leads people to dig deep into social and structural causes of problems. The argument I am trying to present here is that human beings have forgotten to ask the ‘Why?’ With the egos that are boosted by the obsessions of the what? How? We cruise living trails of disasters that when nature revokes we do not know what to do.
Further, I was also fascinated by Donal Dorr’s 2006 suggestion of the ‘hard’ values and ‘soft’ values. He sights that the world is so obsessed by the ‘hard’ values such as money houses, cars, and other material possessions. He says the ‘soft’ values such as relationships, spirituality suffer immensely. I actually agree with this worldview, because I believe it adds value to Freire’s ‘Praxis’ As human beings we need to slow dawn and take a hard look at ourselves because we each can make a difference. We do not need big action. The smallest things for me when put together will form a bigger picture. Small actions like changing life styles in our community. If people have clothes that they cannot use give them away. If you have six cars ask yourself if you real need them all and donate others. The list is endless.
I am a 46 years old mother of three children, two boys and a girl. I am Zimbabwean currently living in South Africa. As a Christian I have worked for social justice all my life. Starting with the Lutheran church where I was a Sunday school teacher at 12 and a youth leader at 15 years of age.
At adolescence I got involved in the struggle for the liberation of my country. During this period I started literacy programmes for illiterate girls in the refugee camp. When I got back home I continued to participate in forums that questioned the values of the struggle and audited the performance of the liberation movements as ‘Government’ Although this created problems for me, I am still convinced that working for social and economic justice is the purpose of my being. I worked in the cooperative movement and set up adult education programs for cooperative members who in the majority were former freedom fighters.
I worked for The Ministry of Community Development for 9 years. During this period I worked on community research projects with a team of four people. The results were +- 15 publications mostly on the themes of leadership, social, political and economic justice. Due to high demand for books and services we left the government and formed Africa Community Publishing. The books are used by grassroots and civil society organizations in Zimbabwe and other countries. Working on these books was a learning curve in my life. I began to understand what writers like Freire mean by ‘organic intellectual’ I learnt so much from the old men and women I talked to than I got from school and some of the books I read.
As mentioned earlier I started a rural libraries organization for the purposes of accessing information to the marginalized and the poor. To date the project supplies +- 200 rural libraries with books.
I was also actively involved in poverty reduction projects through the UNDP and The Poverty Reduction Forum of Zimbabwe housed at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Zimbabwe. Currently I am a volunteer facilitator with The Training for Transformation Programme at the Cape Town Grail Center in South Africa. I volunteer in the center’s community development programmes. I am currently designing training modules for community activists training.
I submitted an MA development studies research proposal ‘Development and Livelihoods’ to Kimmage University. The University responded positively, but suggested that I go to the campus. As a single parent with children in school, I find this strenuous. This is something I would real love to do as a result I am still fundraising.
I love reading and writing poetry, biographies and history. It stimulates me. It’s a vibe that I could never live without. I love participating in discourse on themes such as ‘world order’ and ‘alternatives’ from the perspective of the poor. I do read a lot of books on leadership, spirituality, psycho- social. I read books for fun too. I am just but a bookworm. I guess the only prison I could ever be in is a place without books. I love walking and having space to be with myself.
I also feel that I am at the cross- roads. If I do not make something out of myself now I might never be able to. Sometimes I feel depressed that for the past 46 years I did not do much. I feel like there is so much to do and very little time left.
I am a very spiritual person, have respect for nature as a result I enjoy listening to the melody that comes out of classic music, sounds from the wind, singing birds and the waves from the ocean.
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