In 1998 Jonathan experienced a baptism by fire in the design and facilitation of processes designed to achieve a shared vision and collaborative initiative.
He worked as a liaison for Michael Cassidy, the international CEO of African Enterprise, in an area of South Africa undergoing violent political faction fighting (Dr. Cassidy’s extensive backroom diplomatic initiatives were instrumental in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy). Jonathan’s work involved liaising with political leaders, often in complete secret, and conducting backroom negotiations in order to seek their agreement to a peace process.
The peace process itself involved a highly secret facilitated dialogue encounter between opposing politicians. Before dealing with the issues on the table, the process facilitated their discovery of one another as human beings.
After one of these politicians was brutally assassinated in public (with seven other members of the public randomly executed with him by gunshots to the head), things nearly fell apart. Reprisal killings continued for months afterward, resulting in a massive police and military presence in the area.
From that point on, Jonathan coordinated a Future Search process involving community and business leaders and, with the AE team, continued to nurture relationships with the politicians in hope of a more opportune moment for peace talks. They worked with community leaders and, in light of the number of trauma victims, initiated a trauma counselling service that proved highly effective.