Friday, May 22, 2015
What is Ubuntu Learning Village?
Desmond Tutu articulates well the wholeness of Ubuntu, he explains:
“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion.”A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”
Yet Ubuntu goes beyond human persons. It is a connection with al beings.
Ubuntu Learning Village came into being as a result of this search for conscientious humanity, conversations with friends in Canada and in Zimbabwe, family, people of Kubiku Village, people of Kufunda Learning Village. Financial support from Moyo wa Africa, and pledges of support from CAP AIDS.
Ubuntu Learning Village is located in Serima, Gutu, Zimbabwe. It is located on 80 hectares of mixed farm land and natural forest. Ubuntu Learning Village is the unity of land, water, air, earth, creatures, people, plants and spirits, intentionally weaving together capabilities, resources, strengths, and knowledges free of hierarchies to create a community of love, respect, fullness, positive relationships, growth and sustainability. We endeavour to experiment with old methods of cooperative economics (in ChiKaranga, this is known as mushandirapamwe), feed one another, utilize skills inherent in ourselves and ultimately eliminate the cycle of one-sided dependency. We also aim to pull together our knowledges, document them, create new ideas and methods and share with local communities and the world. Our long-term vision is that in living a natural, peaceful, ecologically sustainable existence we can demonstrate the possibilities that lie in creative cooperation outside of the capitalist-individualism construct.
1. Land for food production When I (Mutamba) visited Zimbabwe in 2009 and 2010, one of the critical issues that people agonized over was the persistent shortage of food. Due to continual droughts that have been affecting most parts of Zimbabwe since 1991, many harvests have been inadequate to sustain the communities who cultivate them. Zimbabwe is endowed with people who have been farmers for many generations and with adequate rain, hunger would never be a problem. After a series of meetings with members of Kubiku Village, where I was born, we decided that we needed to have access to land in a part of Zimbabwe that receives regular rainfalls. Serima area was suggested to us and we started looking at purchasing land there. Ubuntu Learning Village support food security by providing harvests to families at Ubuntu. The food will be cooperatively grown and harvested, utilizing the community cooperative models of mushandirapamwe (cooperative economics). 2. A place of living and learning Inspired by the many communities around the world, who are leading the way in trans-localization, we practice local learning with a global consciousness. Trans-localization is a practice whereby communities do local work to respond to local challenges, while simultaneously maintaining connections with other communities around the world who are also doing work in their localities.Ubuntu aims to be a hub of learning that is centred on doing, relating, and horizontal connecting.
Local learning: The current formalized education system in Zimbabwe, which many people are encouraged to join, is inaccessible for many reasons:
a. It costs money to go to school. Expenses include school fees, uniforms, learning materials, accommodation, and transportation. The majority of people cannot afford this. b. The education system follows a banking approach to learning whereby students are considered empty vessels where knowledge can be deposited, often by means of coercion, penalties and rewards. c. The education system has completely neglected the local environment and the needs of the people, focusing entirely on training people to provide labour to government agencies and businesses. This has resulted in massive unemployment rates when businesses have fallen apart and the government has run out of resources to sustain itself. Ubuntu will provide a free learning space, with a focus on doing, living, relating, consciousness and social justice. The space will be open to all ages and will be informal, learner-driven, and fun. The intention is not to create experts with certificates but rather to encourage self-exploration, self-awareness, self-reliance, survival and community inter-dependency. The skills shared at Ubuntu will hopefully be taken back into learners’ home communities.
Trans-localization Many communities around the world are experimenting with learning processes that are ecologically and socially just. They share these processes among themselves, creating a wealth of knowledges that are free from patent laws, thus making them accessible to those who are interested. We are hoping to extend this sharing in Zimbabwe, connecting with pioneers at Kufunda Learning Village (www.kufunda.org) in Ruwa, Zimbabwe as well as other communities in Canada, India, Mexico, Brazil, for example. We also hope to host people from around the world who are interested in sharing what they know and are open to learning with us. It is with this approach that we can promote the work of communities who are re-vitalizing their internal wisdoms and indigenous knowledges to resolve issues that we are now all facing collectively.
3. Living Arts, Spirit and Ceremony A connection with the land is a connection with the self and a connection with all that the earth holds. In our own way in Zimbabwe, dance, marimba, drum, mbira, song, ululation, sculpture, and painting (to mention just a few arts) make this connection possible. At Ubuntu, the arts and ceremony will be at the centre of everything we do. In Zimbabwe, we are fortunate to have elders who are committed to the practice and passing on of spiritual heritage. We will collaborate with these griots and knowledge keepers and nurture a generation of people that seek to live holistic and grounded existences.
Moyo Rainos Mutamba