Who I am
Undine Whande has worked as a practitioner and scholar in conflict transformation and social change since 1995. Born in Germany she has lived and worked continuously in the SADC region since the mid-nineties. She holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town.
In the often very challenging context of political and social transition in post-1994 South Africa, Dr. Whande developed her expertise as a conflict mediator, coach and facilitator in social change processes.
She worked closely with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission process and with various civil society organisations and approaches during the time.
She served as the Senior Specialist for Conflict Transformation and Organisational Learning for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) from 2010-2013. Dr. Whande also was part of the foundational phase of the Healing of the Memories process in South Africa and continues to work with transitional justice processes and organisations on the African continent and globally.
In her current work as a leadership coach, she accompanies individuals and organisations that seek to evolve the potential for healing and development out of experiences of diversity, conflict and crisis. Her approach is strongly rooted in principles of respect, recognition and valuing each individual biography and life journey.
Her work is grounded in the Goethean phenomenological approach, as evolved by Kaplan and Davidoff into what is becoming known as a “Social Reflective Practice”. She is also trained in systems theory and offers a trans-generational lens on memory work. She was the lead facilitator for the first Nelson Mandela Dialogues on Memory Work, an initiative co-hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the GIZ Global Leadership Academy that brought together 26 leaders from 10 countries over 2013-2014 in an exploration of memory work, justice and healing practices worldwide. Undine resides in Cape Town, South Africa with her three children.
I am a peace-builder at heart. Most of my life I have worked in various conflict resolution and social justice initiatives in Africa, Europe and Asia. In my search for the core of what enables true transformation and fosters genuine non-violence, I learned that one can be at peace in the midst of life’s challenges through yoga. The connection between our finite existence and our inner infinity allows us as humans to fully unfold into our potential, beauty and destiny. I trained as a Kundalini Yoga teacher in 2011 and teach at Shangri La Holistic Centre in Cape Town as well as in my community of Bo Kaap.
Over time I have hosted yoga classes for people in villages in Zimbabwe, in urban communities in South Africa, for the beautiful people at the Camphill Villages and once even for the mediators inside the Mitchell’s Plain Court House.
Throughout my life I have held a personal line of inquiry about how to heal the woundedness of painful pasts. Kundalini Yoga is one key in my own intensive personal healing quest, tending to the trans-generational wounds as a child of parents deeply traumatised by war.
I discovered Family and Systemic Constellations work while asking how the histories of countries, communities, families and individuals are connected and also entangled. As people, we are always on a path of growth and development; some of this happens through conflict and brings us pain. Systemic constellations work enables deep healing movements through the power of witnessing and honouring what has happened in systems, be it family, organisation, community or a business. Constellations work can also be focusing on a piece of land, a garden, or the home you live in.
Nature constellations work found me when I was asked to hold space for several pieces of work that involved questions around land and the elements. I was honoured to hold space for an indigenous community in the process of reclaiming a historic wetland, and to host numerous constellations on the theme of water. The simplicity, quietude and impact of this work have never ceased to astonish me. My training as an intuitive wilderness guide in the tradition called ‘Spirit of the Wild’ also contributes to my work.
The intersection between nature and human life has also met me in the work of the poet JW Goethe. While his literary works were a mandatory part of my school days in Germany, his nature studies met me in adulthood through the work of Sue Davidoff and Allan Kaplan. I was fortunate enough to be part of one of the early fellowship programmes to train as ‘artist of the invisible’. We spent weeks looking at the life processes in the wilderness, to then learn how it is to look at the social world through the same lens of living process that we had learned from observing nature. This profound body of work – inspiring what is becoming known as a ‘delicate activism’ and ‘reflective social practice’ – continues to inspire my practice on a daily basis.