The Story of Talking

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The Story of Talking

By Koky Saly


Okay. Picture an empty room. 

A large room. More like a hall. At the top end is a stage. With a microphone and a woman is talking into it. Her words are not understandable. It’s as if she is speaking from under water. In front of her, are tables going all the way to the back of the hall. All around the tables were chairs. Now fill those chairs up with people. But not with any people, they are educational leaders, principals and teachers.  Highly qualified and experienced in the world of education. There are about 160 of them. Off to the side of the stage is person you have just noticed. That would be me.

Then suddenly the woman talking is understandable. And crystal clear, we hear her say, “I would like to welcome onto the stage, Koky Saly”.

And this is a pretty good picture of what we may call, my nightmare. Thank goodness, I wasn’t naked as well. But this wasn’t a nightmare, it was real. And I was about to step up, stand on a stage, and do things I was afraid to do. Which was talk. To people. A lot of people I had never met.  

* Talk at Link Festival

And as I drew nearer to the microphone. I coughed or something. Made a noise. Got closer to the microphone. I think everyone could hear me breathe. My nerves, I am sure, could be sensed by everyone in the room. 

And then I started talking. And to these educators I began and said:

“As I walk through this world, in this life of mine. I am finally, starting to feel like I am truly recognising and understanding the many lessons being taught to me, every single day. There is not a cell in my body now, that does not recognise the value of quality education. It is indeed, this access to quality education, that has allowed me to lift myself out of poverty. To be able to assess and interrogate the world, in a way that allows me to grow and to contribute meaningfully to it. It is also this access that allows me to stand here, before you today, to express myself, in a language we share, and to tell my story. On my terms. As friends, as peers and as equals. And this is important…”

* Talk at RMIT University

All the words just came to me. I didn’t hold back. I really wanted to punch people in the face, with me heart. Leave them with cartoon birds flying around their heads, dazed. I knew all the words that could take me apart. And in telling my story, I used the same words. Did these words also have the ability to take other people apart? I didn’t know. I now realise on that stage, as I was talking I was actually slowly, taking myself apart.  

And people saw it, felt it. If the effect of holding it in could torment me, then what would be the effect of letting it all out. Torment others too? 

No. This is what happened. 

After I finished, I noticed people in the audience crying. Maybe I did torment them. But it wasn’t torment that was expressing itself as tears. What was actually expressing itself as tears, was healing. In sharing my story, and taking myself apart on stage for people, which is a difficult thing to do, had the ability to heal others. 

I received all these incredible messages. Here is one of them:

“Koky, I was at your session on Wednesday and your message was phenomenal. Never has another human made me reflect as much as you did. You are truly an inspiration and the love and light that fills you moved everyone in that room. I am hoping to get into your shop at Melbourne Central over the next little while. I hope that it all goes brilliantly for you.”

But the bigger secret I discovered for me. Was that yes, I helped heal others in some small way. But I was  also healing myself. Taking care of myself. Looking after myself. I had discovered one of the ways, that would help me become healthy again. 

From that day, on the 24th of February 2016. I started talking. 

Everytime, I receive a message from people in the room, I feel a little piece of me feel better again. I would say I have now done over 100 talks since then. I still get a little anxious before each talk, but I know that all the words I need to know, will come to me. People in that room, invited me to talk at their schools too! And then word of mouth kept growing. 

And that is a little snippet, into how I started talking. I hope you enjoyed this month’s story! Thank you as always for taking the time to read. If you have any comments or thoughts I would love to receive them and read them. I still work in our shops, so feel free to pop in and talk :) 

Much much love from us! xxx


Every year, we offer 5 free talks to schools and community organisations. We are now opening up expressions of interest for these free talks for the year 2020. If you would like more information please email us at We cover a range of different topics. It is often first in best dressed, and dependent on schedules aligning. Every talk we do, we go in hoping to punch people in the face, with our hearts. 

[I won’t publish the rest of my speech here, because apart from the beginning, what I write down and what I actually say becomes totally different. Maybe, one day, one will be taped].

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