Far In Far Out: Zimbabwe – Conversations for the Living Future
Project team: Maaianne Knuth, Mvuselelo Huni, Undine Whande, Michar Mushiko
(read their bios here)
Kufunda, Orap and Trust Africa, are each deeply engaged in activities supporting local communities. ‘Gateway’ was created to support a dream of reconciliation within Zimbabwe, and the wisdom and capacity in community.
The link with CFOR builds upon a three-day forum facilitated by Jean-Claude and Arlene in Zimbabwe in November 2018. Maaianne, a facilitator and Founder of Kufunda, who had studied in CFOR’s Facilitation for Leaders Programme, invited them to Zimbabwe to facilitate a forum, and to support Gateway’s vision and contribution to the wider society. Kufunda coordinated the gathering – bringing together participants from different parts of Zimbabwe and from different tribes, elders and youth, representing various organisations, everyone interested in finding a way to transform their past and build the future of Zimbabwe. During the forum, we learned that this was the first time it was possible for people to safely speak together about the political violence they had endured in the recent years, as well as the colonial history. There was a sense of dedication that arose to work together at this critical time, in what might be a window of opportunity to find pathways forward.
Following this forum, ‘Gateway’ offered opportunities to gather, and for training and mentoring for community facilitators – in addition to the wide range of community projects that are coordinated by Kufunda, Orap and Trust Africa. Along the way, CFOR stayed in touch with the ‘Gateway’ team. In 2021, Maaianne, Mvuselelo and Undine of Gateway gave a powerful presentation for the CFOR ‘Facilitating our Future’ Series. They were touched by the warm reception and interest expressed by the international community.
An initial facilitated session among the ‘Gateway’ team revealed the shape of this current project. A powerful process concerned the urgency felt among young people, and the need to hear this urgency from a place of wisdom and eldership. And to take action that honours the youth’s struggles, their gifts, their vitality and their capacity to contribute to the process of reconciliation in Zimbabwe and building the future. This mirrored moments from the 2018 Forum, when youth from different tribes said to one another that ‘they hated each other and didn’t know why’ – They had expressed to their elders a passion and hunger to understand the violent history they have inherited, and its persisting impact, so that they don’t repeat it.
The design and pace of this project came into focus – out of respect for this dedication and capacity in youth. In further facilitated sessions, as the ‘Gateway’ team grappled with what it means to listen to youth, they realised that rather than setting up forums for young people, they would invite young people into these initial stages of project design and planning. It became clear the importance of acknowledging the capacity and creativity in youth, while not marginalising the terribly real hardships they face.
The project will create spaces for youth to gather in facilitated dialogue. There will be 6 Forum gatherings among youth – three in Bulawayo, in Matabeleland, and three in Harare.