Photo Credit — Kufunda Learning Village
I went to Zimbabwe in the early 2000s. Through Johannesburg and up to Harare. I remember feeling excited and a bit scared. It was my first time to Africa. I travelled with a group through The Berkana Institute and in support of our global leadership initiative, From the Four Directions. We were invited in particular to celebrate a friend and colleague, Maaianne Knuth’s 30th birthday, a beautiful human being, half Danish and half Zimbabwean. We were invited to witness what she was attempting to dream, establish, and grow in Zimbabwe, a learning village called Kufunda. Kufunda was about courage and wholeness. It was about daring to walk a path of awakening individually and as a local community. It was about reclaiming an inherent resourcefulness amidst towering inflation and access only to each other.
Maaianne’s birthday, which she referenced as a “celebration of life” was also about courage, wholeness and kind daring. It was not just for her but for all of us. There was life in being together, the group of about 40 of us over seven days. There was thoughtful and deliberate conversation and connection together. There was singing and dancing and food late into the night at her Grandmother’s remote village, where we all stayed in tents. There was wonder in visiting Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park. There was “aha” in realizing how easy it was for wild baboons and monkeys to get in to a few back packs that were left behind on the bus.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Maaianne. I’ve stayed in touch with the evolution of Kufunda, the learning village that was just beginning when I was there. I’ve wondered these last weeks in particular about how Maaianne is and how she is seeing the evolution of Zimbabwe now that Mugabe has stepped aside. This comes with awareness that there were years, including when I went in the early 2000s when political violence was enough to cancel trips, or at minimum proceed with much much caution. I’m happy to read Maaianne’s words this morning, “A Joy Revolution.”
“What was most remarkable was the absence of hatred and anger. The overwhelming feeling on the streets was joy. I don’t know that I have ever experienced such a collective well-spring of joy. Joy and love and unity that transcended decades of fear, division and hatred.”
There is much that is challenging in the world. Much that is drowning many of us in full despair. However, there is much that is joyful in the world also. Maaianne’s reflections and her commitment to growing life through life remind me of that.