“IMBIZO” – a gathering of something important
Marcia Newman, PremRawat.com writer, catches up with Paul Bloomfield, Global Communications and Public Relations for Prem Rawat, and Lumka Ngxoli, South African Media Liaison and Peace Education Program (PEP) Promoter.
This interview was conducted on May 3rd, 2021 via Zoom.
PremRawat.com: Great to catch up with you both in Cape Town. Clearly, you’ve been very busy. The April 2021 South African Tour involved 19 scheduled stops, including 11 interviews, 3 events, and 5 meetings.
Lumka Nxgoli: The whole point of this recent South African tour with Prem Rawat was about “Imbizo,” a Nguni word which means an intimate gathering of something important. It’s one thing when you help conceptualize something, and then it becomes a completely new thing when you see it come into full fruition.
It’s been a bit surreal to witness people’s lives being transformed. There were magical moments in terms of the healing that needs to be done here in South Africa. Wounds were opened up and a lot of people shared their pain and stories with Prem in such intimate ways. With Covid-19 safety protocols in place, our gatherings were 50 (or less) people.
The first gathering was with these new, young, dynamic Peace Education Program (PEP) facilitators who come from nearby poverty-stricken townships. They want to improve their surroundings for the better. These are amazing young kids who are connected to NGO’s (non-government organizations) and believe in the ethos of helping another person and giving back to their communities.
The second small gathering called the Peace Warriors Event included people who have enjoyed Prem’s message for years, including PEP facilitators. We wouldn’t be here without these people who have been carrying Prem’s message of peace for many years here in South Africa. A big thank you to those who built this foundation that we are building on today!
The last event involved some key strategic partners (including VIP’s) from various sectors, namely: government, media, education, NGO’s, and other influencers hearing about Prem’s message of peace for the first time. After the event, it was exciting to introduce the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) and the South Africa Department of Correctional Services.
PremRawat.com: Can you share more about this particular MOU signing?
Paul Bloomfield: Yes, this newly signed Memorandum of Understanding formalized the partnership of TPRF’s Peace Education Program (PEP), based on years of positive results with the program helping inmates. At Zonderwater Correctional Facility in Cullinan, South Africa, more than 1,000 inmates have already benefited from PEP. This MOU signing reflects that PEP is an approved program across the entire South African prison system. https://tprf.org/new-agreement-expands-peace-education-program-in-south-africa/
Lumka Nxgoli: In terms of media, Prem Rawat is working with our top media and biggest platforms in South Africa. On this tour, Prem was interviewed by some top-notch, hard core journalists. Honestly, I was nervous and didn’t know if I’d still have a job after it was all done. Remarkably, this one very serious investigative journalist stated how talking with Prem affected her so positively on a personal level. She then revealed it was one of the best interviews she has ever done.
Even with continued political turmoil, Prem Rawat still comes here to South Africa. He’s been through it all. And yet, at the end of the day, he still goes on National TV & Radio and still delivers a message of peace, even through all the chaos. I’ve learned so much from Prem and with Paul’s help.
Paul Bloomfield: Thank you, Lumka. Since we first met in 2014, you have helped us take a huge step forward. For me, the most dramatic steps have been Radio interviews. Prem was very skeptical of doing Radio. He had not done major radio before. With Lumka’s aide, Prem was invited to appear on the Jacaranda FM Radio Station in Joberg (Johannesburg) “Breakfast Show.” It’s the biggest independent radio station in South Africa.
We all had to get up at 5 a.m. to get there. I was thinking this is not going to go well. When we arrived at the Radio Station, Prem was asked to record a 1-minute segment about his message. It threw him into the deep end. But he was incredible. Then, the whole show kept unfolding from there. Normally, the “Breakfast Show” is very fast-paced with various announcers in the room with news, traffic reports, weather, sports, etc. It also appeared that the announcers really didn’t like each other. As Prem continued to talk, he slowed down the whole vibe in the room.
Then the thing that I didn’t tell Prem was going to happen, started happening. Listeners started calling in to talk with him (live call-in). I had not told him ahead of time, but I was confident he could handle it. I was not wrong. One woman caller had to pull her car over to the side of the road because she was weeping. She was very touched by Prem’s message, as were millions of other listeners. We finished the show around 9 a.m. after 2.5 hours of extended time being there. Needless to say, Lumka and I and the film crew were breathing a sigh of relief.
Lumka Nxgoli: I was still emotional eating by that time (laughing).
Paul Bloomfield: I walked out of the radio station with Prem. We were side-by-side. I asked him “Have you ever done that before?” He replied “I’ve done loads of this kind of radio thing.” Then he turned to me, smiled and said “No, I’ve never done that before.” He then agreed to do a second Radio interview that afternoon with over 10 million listeners, which Lumka arranged. So, he reached over 15 million people in one day!
The next day, Prem gets out of the car and I greeted him in Soweto. He said, “Paul, what happened yesterday was historic.”
Lumka Nxgoli: Yes, it was incredible to see him interact with people of different ages & racial groups. Jacaranda FM Radio show is geared for “White-based” listeners, while SABC Radio is very much “Black-based.” Both groups have been affected by Apartheid and both are aware of their anger. Then to watch and listen to Prem’s message penetrate peacefully into all these groups. Plus, the following day, there was a clip of his that got translated into local dialects and it circulated across the whole of Southern Africa.
Paul Bloomfield: Since I’ve met Lumka in 2014 the work that she has done has been absolutely amazing, with the Interviews that have been achieved. What Lumka does is bring together a lot of key people that she knows in the media. Also, Prem’s own development and understanding of the media has really deepened in South Africa. As I mentioned, at the time, he didn’t really think there was a value in radio. He felt it was going to be a video world, and understandably so. I persuaded him to do some Interviews on South African radio, with Lumka’s help. It was transformative. https://www.timelesstoday.tv/wild-wise-women-part-1
PremRawat.com: Since you both know I’m trained in the field of psychology, I feel compelled to ask and speak to this iconoclastic pairing of you two, working together in South Africa. Please excuse me if I’m overstepping my bounds. Here you are, Paul, a British and a White middle-aged Male with a prominent background, coming in to this tentative racial-political climate. And Lumka, here you are as a vocal, younger Black woman who experienced going through the Apartheid as a child. You could have decided to stay with the anger and thoughts of revenge. Instead, you both have decided to team up. I think it’s incredible and perfect that the two of you have been brought together to help facilitate this healing for so many. What do you think about this, and how has it been, working together?
Lumka Nxgoli: Paul??? (laughing). I feel I’ve stressed you out so many times.
Paul Bloomfield: It’s a great question. It’s lovely for someone to actually see that and acknowledge it. We’ve also been talking about this in the last few days. As you have said, we are an extremely unlikely pairing. For me, I’ve seen such talent and abilities in Lumka over the past 7 years. She is a highly creative, right-brain person who has the ability to get things done in a non-conventional way. For those who prefer a more conventional approach, you won’t always see her true value. I do. And I think she is going to go far in this world.
Lumka Nxgoli: Thank you, Paul. For me, I have so many friends who are not Black. At the end of the day, I do forget that Paul is a Brit, an older white male and all of these things. We do this work with intuition and our souls speak. This world has not been very fair, especially to women of color. Paul has constantly created a safe space for, not only me, but others to find their best self and to feel that our points are valid. It’s rare in the space of a corporate-organizational setting. I really wouldn’t have been able to execute half the stuff I’ve done, if Paul didn’t believe [in] me. Listen, I’m a dramatic little tornado. Thank God, it all paid off. I’m getting emotional now…. I’m honestly very blessed. He truly does live by the ethos of what Prem teaches.
PremRawat.com: Hearing your acknowledgement and appreciation of each other is quite beautiful. Again, I don’t think it’s any accident that you have been brought together to help with Prem’s work. There are healing outcomes that are unfolding in South Africa.
Paul Bloomfield: Speaking of healing, there was also this extraordinary exchange recently. The story is about a female inmate from Johannesburg Central Prison who sent a question to Prem about 4 or 5 years ago. Her question was, “I have murdered my children. Is there any hope for me?” He has carried this story around the world while asking the audience for feedback. A majority of audience members do respond with “Yes, there is hope.” So, I asked Prem if he would be interested in actually speaking to her directly, to complete the circle. They spoke through Zoom and she told her story for approximately 35 minutes while he listened and wept. There were no dry eyes in the room. She took us along into the depths of her dark story of not wanting her young babies to be left to the continued violent environment of her abusive partner. Without going into more details, perhaps this incredible story and interchange will be released one day.
PremRawat.com: After what you just shared, I can’t even come up with any more questions. Except to finish up with “what’s next” for both of you?
Lumka Nxgoli: With this last tour, I received a call-back from the SABC radio, wanting to expand Prem’s message across Southern Africa and throughout the continent. For me, it’s been quite rewarding. Honestly, I’m still trying to process “what the f–(bleep) just happened.” I’m going to Joburg with a film crew. We’ll be interviewing people and get more stories in connection to Prem and his message of peace. It’s really a continuation of the magic that has been happening here. I truly believe that peace is possible, because I have watched it with my own eyes. I’ve seen, even in dire situations, that there is still hope. Listen, how can you look at these young Peace Ambassadors and not be inspired? Then I look at myself and say “Girl, put that doughnut down and stop your crying.” With this amazing journey that I’m on, and what we’re building here, I’m quite hopeful.
(Lumka had to sign off at this point and Paul stayed on.)
Paul Bloomfield: Yes, Lumka is working on a large project now. We’ve opened up a big door into their national media. Lumka is an amazing human being and she’s infuriating at times. It’s just seeing the potential in people and allowing that to come out. I’ve had to learn to not always apply the usual linear thinking that can stifle creativity.
I’ll be going to Greece soon and working there with the local Peace Education Program (PEP) team and a book publishing deal there for Prem’s new book: Hear Yourself: How To Find Peace In A Noisy World. Then I will be going home to England to spend time with my family and work remotely. We’ll then be looking at the next big project for this year: America. We need everyone’s help to ensure the success of this book release. We want to reach beyond our support base, because it is a good book and has a great message. It can be helpful to so many more people. Hopefully, some very influential people will also get to read it.
All this travel can sound great, but it can become “the land of hotel rooms.” All you have, sometimes, is “this work” and me watching cricket. When I grew up, I was the only “white guy” on my field hockey team. I played together with young male Sikh’s. I didn’t speak Punjabi, yet they were my friends. Growing up in cosmopolitan London really helped shape my world view.
PremRawat.com: Thank you, again, Paul, for who you are and all you do. I’m glad you’ll also be able to go home and visit your family soon. Take care!
After this interview concluded, Paul Bloomfield provided this link to Prem Rawat’s South African Radio 2000 Interview on Easter morning:
Radio 2000 – April 2021
From Q&A Interview with Prem Rawat, April 2021
You are bigger than the sum of your problems.
You are bigger than this little virus.
You are bigger than unemployment.
You are bigger than all the tragedies that happen.
Our strength is greater than the sum of all these problems.
Remember, you carry something so big and powerful in you. All these problems are dwarfed by the strength that is inside you.
Interviewer’s final question: “Is there still more you can do?”
Prem Rawat: I will try to do as much as I can do, because there is no stopping it. When you can bring a smile to people’s faces, bring peace to the heart that really deserves it, and joy to those people who have never experienced that joy. It’s a gift.