Dear Daughter,

I hope you are able to follow your passions and explore and discover your leadership within areas that you connect with deeply. So many people find themselves on paths in their lives that feel not of their choosing. People take on roles due to obligation and lack of choice. I hope you feel the freedom to find your own pathways. 

One of the things I was really struck by as we met with the people leading projects in South Africa, was their journey towards leading in areas that inspired them. Many of them seemed to be following their callings. I reflected on how throughout most of my life, I had rarely been encouraged to understand myself and recognise what my passions were. The majority of my pathways through education were set due to what other people perceived me to be good at. I did not learn how to listen to my body and connect with what it feels like to do things that I deeply connect with. I think that often people find themselves managing or being in positions of leadership inside of work that does not really connect with who they are and what their strengths are. I think without that step towards understanding what attracts us, what pulls at our hearts and what our strength areas are, it is hard for leaders to find their truly unique and personal visions.

On the road in the Eastern Cape, The Wild Coast

I wonder if you will remember how we travelled by car for over 4 hours over rough roads and through the breathtaking beauty of the Wild Coast. I hope you remember the warm welcome from our friend Sisonke as he invited us to his house and welcomed us home. We meet Sisonke in Mthatha, a city in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Sisonke, also known as Khynsa, is a multi-talented, beautiful soul who founded the Ispili Network.  When we met with Sisonke, I was touched by his story of how he felt called to the work of uplifting the cultural and spiritual life of the Eastern Cape. He spoke about how he left his work in academia and took a spiritual pathway towards promoting, creating and curating art as a method of communication, community healing and spiritual awakening. I was inspired by the way he seemed to flow between different mediums and outlets for his creative practices, poetry, music, art and more.

I hope that you, like Sisonke, feel connected to yourself enough that you are able to know the things that speak to your heart, and you are able to flow with and follow all of your interests. I hope that you are able to develop your leadership within areas that you are deeply attracted to. 

Meeting Sisonke in Mthatha – Left to Right: Dzifa Afonu, Selasi Afonu, Sisonke Papu, Carline Blackman

One theme that repeatedly came up in my conversations with the leaders we met on our travels was the theme of transition. I felt I caught many people at a turning point in their lives. The pandemic had shaken so many of us up. So many people were questioning their lives and craving community, craving the land and craving indigenous ways of being. When we met Nontobeko Khumalo, she was preparing to move out of the hustle and bustle of city life in Johannesburg, seeking to reconnect with her ancestral land in Kwa-Zulu Natal. She had been more deeply in meditation with land, through food and herb growing in an urban farm, but she craved more space and greater proximity to her family. I was inspired by the call to land, to her vision and that of so many to reconnect with the rhythms of nature.

Many of my visions of the future are ones in which our relationships to earth, to land and to sustenance are no longer extractive. I hope that in the world that you grow into, there are more of us that are led by the energy I connected to in my brief but deeply touching conversations with Nontobeko. This engagement with the pace and abundantly giving energies of the natural world feels critical to our capacity to create social change and build communities that are sustainable. 

Readings/Audio I was inspired by on our travels.

Keep reading

Unlearning Leadership (Introduction)
Leading inside of Grace (Part 2)
Communities of Remembrance (Part 3)