A Gathering of Kings
From May 22-25 we hosted our first ever Chief's workshop at Kufunda Village. We brought together Chiefs from our partner communities, as well as three additional Chiefs who our local Chief felt would add important value to our time together.
It is a first for Kufunda, but it seems it is also a first for them to come together like this across their Chieftainships. They came together with us in learning, dreaming and relationship building.
Two key things emerged:
A deep affirmation of our philosophy and work
A realisation of the need for these kind of spaces for Chiefs to come together to build relationships with each other!
An Affirmation of the Work of Kufunda
We wanted to share with them what we are up to and who we are; and to find ways to more intentionally work together in their communities. Although many of them had heard of Kufunda, they had never been here.
We didn't really know whether it was possible to invite Chiefs for a workshop. The word Chief is one that the British gave them. The local word: Mambo, actually means King. And so these are in fact Kings of small kingdoms, that we invited for a three day workshop into the world of Kufunda!
But we need not have worried.
The Kings and their headmen came and they fell in Love.
Chief Mutoko said it felt like they were visiting a village in the past. They thanked us for our stewardship of the culture. Not culture in the sense of how things are done culturally in the social sphere. In this regard they taught us much, but culture in the sense of having returned to the traditional crops, the small grains. Culture in terms of working with locally available resources and materials, building the village as an African village with thatch and wood and mud. Culture in terms of honouring nature, keeping the trees, caretaking the forest. Culture in terms of working with the land, organically, using the cattle, harvesting the water. This seemed to inspire them deeply. I have seldom felt so appreciated for the simple ways we practice here.
The underlying philosophy of Kufunda landed: They were inspired by the story of wealth and wisdom that lies at the heart of Kufunda and began to see possibilities for their communities. Exciting possibilities. Acknowledging that we are rich; that we can do so much more with our own available resources, and that part of the shift we need is the shift of mindset, of people and communities finding their gifts and working with them to create; rather than to depend upon others.
To be witnessed and celebrated by the Chiefs was a deeply humbling experience. To be invited to support them in bringing some of these practices back home was an honour that we look forward to embracing fully.
"The chiefs are the keepers of the culture. I have seen another storage where culture is being kept called KV. Here chiefs is your culture.
What I have seen with the water harvesting, and your fields of zvio. If we were all doing this, we as a country would not be crying of hunger."
"We need to keep coming together like this"
The second area was the realisation of how important this kind of coming together was for them. Chief Chikwaka decreed that this must happen each year, and that next year there will be more of them. This first group, will help gather the next group. They all agreed.
"All the chiefs have been brought up together to become one chief. We were not knowing each other before. Kufunda village brought us together."
It seems amazing to me that most of them do not know each other- that a more social gathering of chief simply does not happen - does not exist.
Some of them are imagining a gathering of Chiefs in their own areas, and have asked us whether we can host a such with them before we do the community sessions that we have been intended.
From working for years at the edges, we are suddenly finding ourselves being invited into the centre
They taught us the culture of how to honour the Chiefs, the Protocol of greetings and giving respect, and we in turn taught them about the circle - and the talking piece in which each voice is heard and valued - whatever your title. We invited them into the World Cafe, where their ideas began to weave together. They welcomed the ways of Kufunda as bringing gifts to their way of being.
"I have learnt that there is a way to approach and talk to people. Learning together gives words to everybody, to find our way together."
So next May we will gather again, perhaps with many more - and share stories of what has arisen from this first meeting of Kings at Kufunda Village in Zimbabwe.