The Art of Hosting and of Participatory Leadership has informed our work with ourselves and with our communities since the beginning and we are so pleased and touched actually, that we are more and more able to hold space and to offer these tools to broader Zimbabwean society.
At the end of last year we were invited to work with a large group of young social activists on visioning the Zimbabwe we want. So much energy, spirit, dreams, potential exists alongside a feeling of exhaustion, of prolonged ‘battle’ and bruises. Hosting that group in their visioning session opened doorways into doing things differently, helped people see what to let go that was no longer serving, looked at different ways of inviting the new and inspired people to ‘be the change they want to see.’
So far this year we have held two Art of Hosting workshops.
In March we welcomed a diverse group of Zimbabweans into Kufunda to explore ‘Finding our Way Together’. About half were activists (some participants from the previous year’s session), others were rural organizers, volunteers visiting Kufunda and individuals wanting to make a difference in their own lives and communities. Subsequently we offered a workshop to the leaders of the Zimbabwe National Association of Students Unions.
It hasn’t been easy coming to new ground. There is a heaviness and an exhaustion coupled with a deep lack of grounding and evidence of damage to spirit in many of the participants.
As we were having a ‘teach’ around the chaordic path in the first workshop, I was struck for the first time ever in this work how real was the feeling of ‘chamos’ – the darkness beyond chaos where nothing works anymore - in our society. Many participants reflected on how bad they felt, how much their communities were struggling, on the inertia that comes from prolonged chaos, from insane rules which deny reality and the awful feeling of déjà vu as we seem to plunge back into the cash crisis which plagued us up to 2008.
It was a very heavy beginning to our days together and our choice of theme – “Finding our way Together” seemed apt. What do we do when the darkness threatens to swamp us?
Part of the answer was to dance. Part of the answer was to dig deep to recognize and appreciate what we do have and to begin to build on that. Part of the answer was the gentle container that is the land of Kufunda. Most of the answer was to be together, to open up our hearts to each other and to have genuine deep conversations that acknowledged who we are, where we are, what we can do together.
By the end of the three days that feeling of despair had been replaced by one of love, connection and energy to move back into our respective spaces and ‘do things differently.’
I met one of the participants last week who told me he had been using some of the methods with teachers and what a release it was for people to let go of hierarchy, hold the talking piece, take a breath and a step back with the bell, and that for the first time genuine conversations without too much standing on formal ceremony were taking place.
There is a feeling that we can move into new waters here – that Kufunda is ready to help hold this space for the broader society and that the time is right for healing and taking action in a different way.