to Dream Again
I don’t have a vision. Just what I see. And what I see is amazing.
Imagine a wide dry plain, stretching to hazy indigo mountains on the horizon. Rising sheer from the valley floor are hills and mountains of granite. Some gently rounded, some conical and craggy. They shelter the remains of ancient settlements, drystone walls, terraces and complicated irrigation systems. Rocks which clang like metal. Communal grinding stones. A white ribbon of dust road winding into the distance.
Looking at this view from a high hill is a window into another world, a world of possibility and peace. A world where power is shared and not abused. Where people talk to each other with respect and honesty. Where there is joy. Where the echoes of the ancients are heard from the small hot farms and villages.
I see recovery and the extraordinary resilience of people to keep coming through. Coming through war and torture and loss. Enduring drought and rape and abuse. People who still smile, who are still welcoming of visitors, who have the hope to look for a simple future for themselves and a better life for their children. They don’t want much. A small piece of land. A place to make a home where they can be in relationship with each other and with a community. A place to be safe. A small garden to grow vegetables and to be able to pick as much as you want without being asked questions.
So many places have been made unsafe. By cynical politicians. By greedy militia, by drug lords, by people with power. Power ‘over’ others.
I have spent today with a group of young men. They all come from ravaged , rural communities, villages populated now only by old women and youngsters. The men are gone – across the borders to look for work. Many are orphans who lost parents at an early age to the AIDS scourge. Many have been forced to drop out of school, because of lack of funds, poor results, no-one to pay the fees, no support at home. Many had given up hope, had felt their life was over when they failed their examinations, or couldn’t continue with the education that they saw as their only hope for the future.
Over the past few years in Zimbabwe, politicians have taken advantage of such young men, plying them with drink and drugs to turn them into youth militia, killers and torturers divorced from their communities. Lost boys that you see on corners in the cities, with dead eyes and no hope, caught in a vicious cycle of violence.
I hope these particular young men have escaped. After eight months living in community at Kufunda Learning Village, learning the art of the possible, they have found hope and enthusiasm and are reclaiming the space to dream. “Now I know I can take the part of a father. I can be a father to myself. I can use my hands to make things happen.” And they want to take what they have learnt home, and set up permaculture gardens and mushroom houses, to inspire other youngsters, and re-build community in their own places and further afield.
I spent the evening with a group of women. Peace drummers. Women who have been through the deepest trauma and horror. Women who came through the Rwanda genocide. They dance with enormous energy. They smile and jump and laugh and heave their drums lightly around the stage. They are dressed in robes flowing like green water, and their movements are eternal yet new. Reminiscent of Ancient Greece and graceful Indian movements. Ancient African rhythms. The drumming is dramatic and pulses through our bones.
The sacred feminine is very visible.
These women – Ngoma Nshaya - have picked up drums, the traditional instruments of men and turned them into a message of peace and healing. A message that says never again.
I want to make visible the forgotten stories, - the hidden stories that show that dreams are alive, that we believe in a future. That like the trees we keep refreshing ourselves, and putting out new leaves in the expectance of rain, and nourishment and growth.