The summer flew by in a flash of pulsating movement and spectacular color. I spent the month of June in South Africa at the Council meeting of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and then at the ICM Congress. The meetings were held in Durban.
Africa was amazing, in all ways. The thing about Africa is the immensity of it—its size, its history, its place in human evolution, its rich cultures, its cultural wars, its social and political problems, its beauty, and its diversity. It is huge; Africa, in all her aspects is huge. And South Africa is an amazing country, more beautiful, diverse, and complex than I had ever imagined. There was so much to learn, so much to understand, so much to assimilate amidst the ever-present tenor of the challenging transition from the system of apartheid to majority rule. The1994 democratic election in South Africa resulted in a change of government, a change of guard, and an era of inspiration and hope. Yet almost twenty years later many challenges remain.
It was the perfect place for the ICM Council and Congress meetings to be held because just as South Africa finds herself at a crossroads, so too is the global midwifery movement at a potent intersection. We were fortunate to attend the historic ICM meetings because the ICM had never before been held on the African continent, and the ICM has never been as powerful as it is now and so well connected to international partners. And the pleasure of spending a week in the “midwife village,” hosted by the gracious and generous South African midwives, amidst the thousands of others who made the pilgrimage to the Motherland was a thrill. The colors, songs, stories, perspectives, languages, lessons, and landscapes still swirl in my mind and heart.