Sometime in the early 1990s, my family and I lived in Fairfax, Virginia, one of the suburbs of the United States Capital city of Washington, DC. We had a Malaysian family as neighbours. The husband was a diplomat, our children attended schools in the same neighbourhood, and we were close friends. Then, they moved back to Malaysia; but we stayed connected. No WhatsApp, IG, or FaceTime then. However, we did quite well use email, post mail, (snail mail?) and the occasional long-distance telephone calls. Not too long after their departure back to Kuala Lumpur, I needed to visit Singapore on business. I looked forward to it because when I told my friend that I was coming to Singapore, he said to me, “Oh, Malaysia is just a hop across from Singapore. In fact, did you know that Singapore used to be part of Malaysia.” I didn’t realize that up to that point. So, I went to Singapore. At my weekend, I took a shot plane trip across to Malaysia. I was met by my friend, his wife, and the daughter, and they were extremely excited to see me as I was as well. And of course, one of the things that you do when you visit people is to go into a restaurant or go shopping or to a store. So, they said they would take me to have a meal. The wife said to me, “Wait a minute. Would you like to eat Malaysian food? We can take you to a nice, high class, Malaysian restaurant; but, let me ask you, do you want real Malaysian food? Do you want authentic Malaysian cuisine?” I said of course it’s the real thing that I want. I want the authentic Malaysian cuisine that she talked about. She said we were not going to get any of that in any of those fancy restaurants and would take me to a place. Then she and her husband drove me into this part of Malaysia that reminded me of home because of its local setting. She spoke the language and made the necessary discourses in the local lingua. And we ordered the food. She said she would help me to choose something good. Even as the food was arriving, I was already fed. The aroma itself was filling! I mean, it was delicious. Now, I have been in the United States, I have been in the United Kingdom, I have been in restaurants that serve Asian food, Malaysian food, Thai food, Chinese. Oh, my friends, let me tell you, this was food to die for. This was real, authentic Malaysian.
I am telling you this story because I realized that for you to get authentic mediation — and when I say authentic mediation, I mean, mediation that works — there are two components to it. I have previously emphasized a lot about the skilled mediator, the well-trained mediator who knows authentic mediation, that is one. Number two, I have spoken about the things that must be present in a mediation for us to call it authentic and being authentic, therefore, one that would work and produce the results that we require, which is: it resolves the conflict; it stops the dispute; it reconciles the parties; and, it enables them to go forward. In other words, mediation that works; that is, authentic mediation. And it occurred to me that, just as you need to go to the right place to get authentic Malaysian food in Malaysia, (and I suspect that the Chinese food that we eat in Chinese restaurants outside China, is not quite the same as Chinese food in China), then, ladies and gentlemen, if you want authentic mediation, mediation that works, you need to go to a place where authentic mediation can be served. So where can we get this mediation that works? Where is this place that practices authentic mediation? Where is this place that guarantees me that I will get the mediation that works?
I am going to introduce you to a little secret, a well-kept secret; I call it Lagos’ best kept secret. It is called The Dispute Solutions Hub – T.D.S.H. It is the home of authentic mediation, where you get creative thinking, transformative solutions; authentic mediation, mediation that works. T.D.S.H. – The Dispute Solutions Hub. Stay tuned for more about this, in my next blog post. Till then, tara!