Marcia Newman, PremRawat.com writer, shares a revealing conversation between two friends: Clive Conway, Chairman Tutu Foundation-UK, and Paul Bloomfield, Global Communications and Public Relations for Prem Rawat, Global Peace Ambassador.
This interview was conducted on March 29th, 2021.
Paul Bloomfield: I’d like to give a little background as to how Clive and I know each other. Many years back, I met Clive at a function at the House of Lords of the (United Kingdom) Parliament. Clive had heard about my “day job” and invited me to become an Ambassador of the Tutu Foundation-UK. Subsequently, I then became a Trustee on the Board (which Paul continues to serve on).
Paul Bloomfield: Clive was incredibly helpful and supportive in bringing together our first collaboration of the Tutu Foundation and The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) in June 2016. We held a groundbreaking forum at the British Film Institute (BFI), following the UK premiere of the multi-award winning documentary film Inside Peace. The forum panel included Lord Tom McNally, Chair, Youth Justice Board, and Peter Clarke, UK’s Chief Inspector of Prisons (and former head of the anti-terrorist branch at New Scotland Yard), and other key voices in law enforcement, criminal justice, and peace education in the UK and in South Africa. https://tprf.org/tprf-and-the-tutu-foundation-uk-partner-to-tackle-challenge-of-breaking-the-cycle-of-crime/
Paul Bloomfield: Clive, you brought so much to that event. You probably don’t know this, but that BFI forum assisted the Peace Education Program to go from 2 prisons into about 14 prisons in the United Kingdom.
Clive Conway: Brilliant.
Paul Bloomfield: Clive is also an “impresario” with his successful Clive Conway Productions company. He is the force behind a theatre series called “An Audience With…,” which creatively showcases a variety of guests including world leaders, actors, scientists, and journalists. https://livecliveconwayproductions.com/index.html
In the past few days, Clive and I have also been talking about producing an online “one-man show” with Prem Rawat.
PremRawat.com: Clive, it’s an honor to be able to meet and speak with you today. Thank you for being with us!
PremRawat.com: Over the years, I’ve held huge respect for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, for his years of activism against the appalling apartheid, racial injustice, and his lifelong commitment to peace initiatives. Clive, how and why did you become involved in the Tutu Foundation-UK?
Clive Conway: Through my company, we were interested in bringing in a series of world leaders to the stage, including Desmond Tutu. We put on a major production with Sir Trevor McDonald interviewing “the Arch” (as he is affectionately known by South Africans) which helped raise money for the Cape Town Tutu Foundation. (Clive was then asked to chair the Tutu Foundation-UK in 2014). The other thing that I should tell you is that my son is married to Desmond’s granddaughter, Mungi Ngomane. So, I accidentally found my son a wife!
(Mungi Ngomane, Activist/Foundation Patron/Author: Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together, The African Way).
PremRawat.com: The Tutu Foundation-UK, founded in 2007, is built on the knowledge and wisdom of the South African concept of “Ubuntu” with those South African communities who sought peaceful reconciliation rather than seeking violent revenge following the overthrow of apartheid. Ubuntu is a powerful practice. Could you elaborate?
Clive Conway: The great thing that Desmond says about Ubuntu is “I am because you are and we are all interdependent.” We’ve all grown up to believe we are independent (of each other). But we are not.
PremRawat.com: Yes, so true. Prem also speaks about finding our commonalities rather than our differences.
Clive Conway: I see Desmond’s philosophy and Prem’s approach as slightly different, with both individuals producing great work in this world. Prem speaks about looking into oneself and then creating something bigger. Desmond’s philosophy focuses on the “I” and “thou” which emphasizes the connection between two people.
Paul Bloomfield: What Clive just shared is really interesting for me. It’s like what Prem does and what Arch does with the “Ubuntu Round Tables” is really complimentary. TPRF’s Peace Education Program could be “the oil” to loosen up people so that the conversations with the “Ubuntu Round Tables” could be even more impactful. And that’s what we found in some of the prison activities that we’ve done, like in India.
PremRawat.com: Speaking of collaboration, what else are you two working on?
Clive Conway: My production company knows most of the theatres here and abroad, so we have suggested the right ones for Prem, along with some recommended guests (emcees). Prem has this extraordinary following around the world. We are very keen to find a new audience in the UK for Prem. I’ve always said to Paul, the ultimate programming for him would be the well-known BBC Radio show “Desert Island Discs.”
PremRawat.com: Here in the States, I’m not familiar with this broadcast. Please share more on this.
Clive Conway: “Desert Island Discs” has a clever radio format that’s been around 50+ years (first broadcast began in 1942). The radio guest is invited to select eight tracks, a book, and a luxury item to take with them as they’re castaway on a mythical desert island. Special guests share their story and soundtrack of their lives. Prem has the most extraordinary story to tell, and at some point that should happen, I think.
Clive Conway: I’ve met and heard Prem speak several times in Cape Town, Africa and in London. He tells all these stories and you think “where is this going?” He then brings it around at the end and you suddenly get it. It’s brilliant.
PremRawat.com: Tell us more about the Tutu Foundation-UK projects, like the “Ubuntu Round Tables” which focuses on the timely topic of improving relationships between police and youth communities. This is a youth-led project?
Clive Conway: Yes, there are these amazing African-Caribbean young men and so much that they have gone through. They’ve now stepped up to become facilitators for change. The structure of the project recognizes and works to address the power imbalance that exists between young black people and the police. The training exercises and role-play between these young people and the police are carefully crafted to reveal and talk honestly about the gang violence on the streets, drug-related crimes, stop and search techniques, and having no “push-back” for voicing their opinions. The goal is to build mutual trust and respect in communities across London. We’re also in the process of bringing this into the South African township of Langa in Cape Town. (Langa was developed as a result of South Africa’s 1923 Urban Areas Act, which was designed to force Africans to move from their homes into segregated locations. Its name in Xhosa means “Sun.”)
Clive Conway: The Tutu Foundation-UK (TFUK) also works with Northern Ireland community leaders to support new systems needed to reduce inter-generational conflicts and violence. Belfast is one of the most fractured communities in the UK and will continue to benefit from the work of TFUK and the support of other welcomed Organizations. https://www.tutufoundationuk.org/
Clive Conway: In addition, our Foundation was able to launch the “Westway Trust Review” which resulted in an extensive report of institutional racism and helped mediate conversations for change between the Westway Trustees and Community members. This model Review process is looking to be applied to other cities like Cape Town that experience institutional racism. The Tutu Foundation has two additional projects: an Annual Peace Summit with Regents University London and developing mediation protocols for the National Health Services (NHS).
PremRawat.com: Clearly, these are all timely projects that require ongoing financial support. I’m pleased to know that The Prem Rawat Foundation is a proud sponsor of the Tutu Foundation-UK.
PremRawat.com: Back to you, Paul. Are you and Clive exploring any other collaborative adventures?
Paul Bloomfield: Clive and I talk regularly. With COVID, it’s been a bit difficult because a meeting with Clive has to be a minimum of 5 hours and it has to involve lunch. (Clive smiling and nodding.) After COVID, we hope to have another collaboration of The Prem Rawat Foundation and the Tutu Foundation-UK. We share ideas and talk through possibilities. The thing you need to know is that Clive and his network are second to none in the UK. His reach is extraordinary especially with the media, specifically the BBC. Even the PR (Public Relations) firm we hired a while ago came through Clive.
Paul Bloomfield: In fact, during one of their PR trainings, Prem had an interviewer from BBC HARDtalk, known for their aggressive style. I’ll never forget it. The interview started out gently and then got harder. Then the interviewer got absolutely brutal. Prem was still jet-lagged and it was after lunch. Prem started off a bit slow, but then he started knocking them back with his responses. It seemed the harder the questions got, the better Prem got.
PremRawat.com: Thanks, Paul, for sharing that. On a personal level, I know that London got hit hard again with another strain of the virus. How are you holding up, Clive?
Clive Conway: COVID-19 has really split people away from each other, and it also has brought out the best in people. If we really tell the truth, I think we are all very depressed at different levels for different reasons. We are meant to be with other people.
PremRawat.com: Yes, indeed, this continues to be a challenging time. What helps to feed your heart? I’ve learned that you’re a classically trained flautist. I see that you toured as a recitalist, chamber musician, and made some music recordings. Do you still enjoy playing the flute?
Clive Conway: Yes, I do still play and enjoy it. When I studied at the Royal Academy of Music, I was second chair flute, not first. But then I did get to sit next to Annie Lennox who was third chair flute (laughing).
PremRawat.com: Well, that sounds like it was worth it. As we wrap up, was there anything else you’d both like to add?
Clive Conway: With Prem, it’s really something to meet someone with such an extraordinary mind. He’s very clear and not distracted by things.
Clive Conway: I’d like to mention, in celebration of Arch’s 90th birthday in October 2021, the “Truth to Power” exhibition will be launched by the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation (based in Cape Town), which will showcase his activism. The Apartheid Museum curator, Emilia Potenza, described Desmond Tutu’s life story as being “in so many ways…the tale of triumph of good over evil.”
Paul Bloomfield: I’m here in South Africa now because there are some incredible human beings involved in what we are doing, whether it’s the young people involved in the Ubuntu Round Tables or the TPRF team that comes down from Soweto. These guys are incredible people. It’s just so inspiring to see their energy and enthusiasm. We are going to have a really impactful time here for both the Tutu Foundation-UK and The Prem Rawat Foundation. I’m hopeful.
PremRawat.com: Thank you both for your unique gift of connecting people and for your ongoing humanitarian contributions that are making a positive impact around the world. Clive, thanks for sharing your experiences with us—and take good care!
(At this point in the Zoom interview, Clive Conway signed off and Paul Bloomfield stayed on.)
Paul Bloomfield: I’ve been the fly on the wall, a witness for so many things with Prem. There are so many stories going on all the time. I can’t keep up with it. Like the stories with Clive, he is an incredibly kind-hearted human being. Clive is a very generous person.
I’ve been able to meet with Archbishop Tutu four times. I remember walking into his Cape Town office. The Archbishop asked everyone to stop for tea, and he got everyone into a large circle. I was there to help set up his meeting with Prem, and he called me over and made me sit next to him. Archbishop Tutu talked to me, and we had pictures taken. It was so much fun.
The first time we met with Archbishop Tutu was at a hotel in Johannesburg. The Archbishop had been traveling because it had been the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid. He had just come back from the EU (European Union), and he was depressed. He revealed: “The greedy whites have been replaced by the greedy blacks.” Prem was there and replied, “With my small light and your big light, we can lift the world. We can do it. It can happen.” I’ll always remember that for the rest of my life.
This is an important year of anniversaries: Prem’s 50th anniversary leaving India and coming to the West (London) and to America (Los Angeles); and the 55th Anniversary of Prem becoming a teacher. It will be TPRF’s 20th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of Amaroo (international retreat in Queensland, Australia). It will also be the 10th anniversary of the “Pledge to Peace” at the European Parliament.
If you’re in the weeds, you can’t really see the big picture. What has happened in the past 10 years is extraordinary. You’ve got the livestreams, the startup of TPRF and the Peace Education Program, PEAK (Peace Education and Knowledge), TimelessToday, PremRawat.com, Prem’s YouTube Channel, Life’s Essentials podcasts, and Prem doing radio, TV, and book releases. None of this was around 10 years ago. I made a written list that went on and on. All of these things are now in place. The platform is set. Now is the time, and we’re ready to go!