This work requires humility, and a deep Learning of the cultural poverty that is the inheritance of the West. Americans of European-descent have largely forgotten our pre-colonized, pre-christianized ancestors and their village lifeways, and have no lived memory of such a life. Our pursuit of the "American Dream" and the heroism of the "Rugged Individual" corrals us in a story where scarcity and fear are our motivators for greater and greater isolation.
Realizing we are traversing strange ground, we've asked for guidance in these places we carry little memory. Sparkroot has formed an alliance with two gracious men who were born-into two very different village lives. They are, like Europeans, homeless strangers in a strange land where neither Europeans or Africans belong. They have offered to join us as we find our way to a Better Day.
Njathi Wa Kabui group in his Gikuyu village, witnessing the struggles of his people as their vibrant culture began crumbling under the pressure of both Euro-Christian and Arab-Muslim colonization.
Godi Godar, lives in a nearby intentional community. He is in continued relationship with his Congolese village - and in preserving other villages around his homeland of Lake Tumba. He is actively protecting ancestral land rites and water quality there through his conservation organization, Go Conscious Earth. His village is still vibrant with ancestral culture, although there is pressure from logging, overfishing and the pressures of the development and Christianity.
Njathi Wa Kabui, ethnicity: Gikuyu, KenyaN
Kabul was born in rural Kenya to a coffee farmer mother and restaurant owner father, both of whom took an active role in the Kenyan independence movement. Immigrating to the United States at the age of 20, Chef Kabui earned Masters degrees in both Medical and Urban Anthropology at the University of Memphis and a Bachelors in Political Science and Philosophy Studies. He now leverages his rich legacy by sharing his extensive knowledge of farming, culinary skills, and food justice as he travels across America, Europe, and Africa. He is committed to changing the way society views food, justice, and sustainability.
Kabui shares widely the effects of colonialism on Kenya and the traditions of his native Gikuyu indigenous group, connecting struggles abroad to those happening in the U.S.
Chef Kabui grows a great deal of the food that he eats and serves his friends and family, and has long been involved in training others to do the same. He led a community farming group that built food gardens for members to strengthen community ties and promote food sovereignty by working together to create sources of local food. He also ran a demonstration farm in Durham and Apex, NC to educate people on intensive urban agriculture. He now educates about farming from his intensive vegetable garden in Moncure, NC.
GODI GODAR, ETHNICITY: BANTOMBA, CONGOLESE
From age 9 to 11, Godi had vivid dreams that he would leave his tribe, travel to a land that was unknown to him, and return home to protect his people.
In 1982, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer came to work in Godar's village. Godar's grandfather insisted they live together and teach each other their languages and cultures. Godar believed that going to the U.S. would help support his tribe and family due to greater opportunities; he left his village and traveled to the US.
Years later, just before her death, Godar’s mother, Nsaba Koko, called him home and revealed the dire situation of his people. There were logging companies in the rainforest. She told him he must end the destruction that was devastating the lives of his people, killing endangered animals, and ruining the air. He knew the logging would cause great devastation.
Koko asked him, “How do we protect our ancestral land rights?” At that moment, Godar realized that his dream was coming true. His purpose in leaving his tribe had become clear. He started Go Conscious Earth (GCE) and the process of saving a million acres of rainforest and bringing clean water to over 10,000 people so far.
In order to keep this land protected, GCE has promised to build a sustainable long-term infrastructure for the local tribes and Pygmy people living on Lake Tumba. The success of this project not only saves the lives of people and animals but also proves the viability of community-based anti-poverty initiatives to the DRC government, which in turn will allow GCEarth and other similar groups to save more land in the Congo River Basin.
Alisa Esposito, Sparkroot's Director, is a dedicated scholar of Stephen Jenkinson's Orphan Wisdom School.
"The School is crafted specifically for all those people who will fail to live forever, who have come to the idea – or been driven there – that their yearning for a deep life must be tethered to the plough of labour and learning, to harrow the hardened field of sorrows and the solitary grey news that has become our corner of this beautiful world, so that children can one day soon be born into to a real, detailed, laboured over Better Day that we ourselves are now unlikely to see.
The learning and the teaching or OWS is part history, all culture, mostly spirit, hugely ancestral, very local, ultimately practicable and hand made, each class about living, working and dying, purposefully delivered and achieved together in the belief that the rudiments of being a true, life serving village person lay waiting for water and light in all of us. If you stay with it long enough your hands will know as much as you will, and even your consternation will be articulate.
It is a school that requires no previous experience with living people, dying people or dead people – though you do have experience with all of them – and no particular employment, religion, educational standard or way of life. It is open to every shape, persuasion, style, language and hue of person with a heart inclined for opening and learning. Each of us deserve the chance to learn something deep, alive, human, urgent and mandatory. This is at the heart of the Orphan Wisdom School." (www.orphanwisdom.com)