All Talk, No Action

All we do is talk and talk and talk…then agree, then talk and talk and… Ah, I think you get the drift of this already.

Dialogue; it comes from two Greek words: dia meaning ‘through’ and legein meaning ‘speak’. And I think that’s what it is all about: speaking through people. It all goes through one eardrum to the next, zipping through that grey matter and echoing off cranial walls, and OUT through the opposite ear.

Maybe the Anglo-Saxons got it wrong on this one because I don’t think I have ever seen it working successfully as a discussion directed towards exploration of a subject or resolution of a problem, as the Oxford Concise English Dictionary defines it.

It always ends up being people talking at each other, or reciting dictums they personally hold in their heart to be true. Dialogue, as per conventional definitions, should seek a way forward, an improvement on the status quo.

But for all your years, how many times have you heard of ‘talks being held’, parties being ‘engaged in dialogue’? How many times after these money-guzzling exchanges have you seen leaders stroll out in their three-piece designer suits, fully accessorized by toothy grins and the sometimes loose tie (just to show you how ‘heated’ it was)?

How many times after these publicized exchanges have deals been signed, proposals flown about on jargon-loaded memoranda? And here we sit glorifying these oh-so-hard-working-leaders for chatting their mandibles to exhaustion. We believe it’s always them to handle the business. Ours is to work hard, earn that salary, making sure the family is sorted.

Now you might be wondering where this is coming from. Let me indulge you then.

I just saw an advert on TV about some African Leaders’ Dialogue. The invited panelists are people I admire, although such admiration is flagging as regards the supposed Pride of Africa that one seems unable to sustain presently.

I just wonder what good does this do. Interviewing big-shots about the way forward? What value does it add? Am I expected to make the random guess that the average TV viewer is going to watch and want to change the status quo? C’est impossible.

All these men speak from their own convictions. They are not here to improve on each other. They are here to bask (sometimes humbly) in the glory of their achievements, to share their dreams and aspirations and yet to be achieved targets. So what value does this add to the supposed objective of ‘charting the way forward for Africa’?

Simply, all I’m saying is this. It never has/never will start from the top. It’s never the presidents, CEOs and magnates who start the revolution, the change.

It starts from the very bottom of the gravy boat, where the last dredges of humanity and society lie forgotten. They are the power, the driving force, the momentum. They’re the kindling to the firewood. A spark sets it all ablaze; a bonfire of societal brilliance.

So, to hell with all this dialogue and talking and whatnot. If not, then let’s at least revise its meaning that’s already been lost.

In its place, let’s have action.

The common man’s conscious choice to take power in their own hands; the very same power they chose to donate to these inauspicious dialoguers.

"…The revolution will not be right back after a message

About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.

You will not have to worry about a dove in your

bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.

The revolution will not go better with Coke.

The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.

The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,

Will not be televised, will not be televised.

The revolution will be no re-run brothers;

The revolution will be live."

Jill Scott Heron


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