I have been extraordinarily privileged in past few weeks to have been exposed to two powerful examples of how it is possible to listen beyond words – to hear, instead of simply the message of the vocalised words, the intention and heart of the person and group speaking these words.
In the first instance, the experience of learning to listen beyond words came as the result of a somewhat random, but very fortuitous decision to ask Sonya Rademeyer1 to participate in the second in the series of the Africa Voices Dialogues2 being held with peers and colleagues across the African continent. We asked Sonya to use her specific gift for interpretive art to create a visual reflection of the dialogue, based on the sonic melodies of the conversation. The dialogue, hosted by Ghana, was a discussion of how the concepts of Inclusive and Collective Leadership are experienced by educators on the continent. One of the challenges that we have been grappling with as we organise these dialogues is the sense of striving to find a common space of belonging for African learners and educators, and create the opportunity to see, hear and love each other’s stories, while simultaneously contending with the wide diversity of languages on the continent. This made it feel appropriate to ask Sonya, who is exploring the concept of communication from a different angle in her collaborative “Sonic Re-Dress3 ” project, to assist us to find ways to see meaning beyond words in the session.