Global Ecovillage Network Africa

Report about the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) Africa conference in Nairobi, Kenya from Dec. 10-12, 2013

10/DEC /2013
First Day by Leila Dregger

“Working with the self-organising power of love” – is one of the first sentences of Kosha Joubert´s presentation on the welcoming evening of the 2nd GEN Africa Conference in Thika, Kenya on 10th of December.
And we feel a lot of this special power during this evening. 100 delegates from more than 20 African countries have come, plus representatives of GEN International. 
When we look at the joy and love that emerges among us the richness of this continent is obvious and overwhelming. Kosha, the president of GEN International also reminds us that the global systems are falling apart.
It is a choice that we as communities and individuals have to take to rebuild the structures, to build new and sustainable communities that provide everyone with the power to look after each other and after our needs.
Kosha: “The true power is the power of numerous villages worldwide that take that decision in their own and unique way.”
Lua Bashala Kekana from Congo DR, member of the GEN Africa Council, reminds us of the young and powerful history of GEN Africa: In 2009 first the idea emerged to form an independant regional network. EDE courses started to take place, a South-South and a North-South exchange with knowledge of traditional villages and of sustainable practise took off.
In Senegal, the government announced that it would support 14.000 traditional villages to transform into ecovillages.
One year ago, in December 2012 in Sekem, the GEN Africa council was elected and with that GEN Africa was officially launched. 
Dr. Karambu from Kenya gave the last presentation and reminded us of the three D,s, to dream our own dream to be daring and to do. “Colonisation imposed a story upon us, which was not our story. We need to create our own dream and our own story.”
The evening ends with sharings from the hearts, with songs and – in spite of the long distances that most of us have travelled – with dance.

Day two by Clio Pauly Kurz

Through love and care we recognized each other and our powerful work. Mary Wanjiku Kamau from our hosting organisation SACDEP welcomed the GEN Africa conference by emphasizing on “slow living”. The true secret of Africa`s longevity.
As the African proverb says “if you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far go together”. It is in this spread of togetherness that we witnessed amazing solutions presented from Ghana, Togo, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The unity expanded to South America and we were graced with the Africa Diaspora present form Colombia and constructive news from Brazil. In between this uplifting heart felt sharing’s we healed a bit, we recharged and glowed with hope. As a collaborative team effort we had the opportunity to pop up with our personal definitions of ecovillages. Philip said “co-existing and surpassing challenges by getting together”.
There after we dived belly first into the question “how can we grow GEN Africa into a strong abundant network that supports real transformation on the ground?” This refreshing swim in a collective pool of wisdom allowed us to breathe out a vast potential to work with.

Day three by Leila Dregger

Happy Birthday, Kenya! Our host country celebrates 50 years of independence – and the Kenyans among us expressed their joy and pride with jubilating songs and dances. This powerful day heard presentations of Kenya, D.R. Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Ghana – everywhere people come together share their knowledge and richness in the communities in a sustainable way. We saw examples of community based nature protection, of food sovereignty in a slum, of cooperatives of organic farmers revitalizing wasteland together, of healing and regaining the wasteland of our hearts and minds by remembering the power of African communities.
This is the path to true independence. Each possibility to share In a sharing young people expressed their amazement of being among so many Africans from other countries and cultures, in which they can explore a new togetherness.
Today we started to dive into the deep and important work on the GEN Africa strategy. We formed working groups on Legal Structures, Outreach and Advocacy, PR and Journalism, Communication Technology, Food Sovereignty, Nature heritage and clean technology, Economy and Ethical Business, Social Healing, Education and Capacity Building, Sites of Inspiration, Cultural Heritage. Each group came up with three plans of actions that we are going to take until December 2014 – when we meet again for the Ecovillages World Summit in Senegal.
It feels good to work together so intensively, and there is still space to share from our hearts, to listen deeply to stories of pain and stories of great joy.

GEN Africa Conference – Closure

by Leila Dregger

“When the holy spirit comes down then Africa will be saved” – standing in the circle, singing that song with many beautiful voices, planting a tree in a ceremonial way: this was the ending of the conference. For many things it was not an ending but a beginning: friendships, perspectives, cooperations, projects have started during the conference. While the council and the NextGEN members are having a last meeting day, most of the participants have left, many of them into very challenging situations back home. But we could create the hope that the bond among us and the shared vision have become strong enough to carry us all over the coming time. In these five days we have formed a family, and this means we can trust that everybody of us has others to call for support if the challenges are becoming too big. As still not all of us have regular internet possibilities, it has to be the spiritual bond that we can create that keeps us feeling part of this family.
During the last morning the country delegations shared the results of their meetings. Quite some of them have met here for the first time and could form alliences to put their capacities together.
Some ideas and conclusions became very obvious during the last morning. On of those ideas is to form a “Wise women council”: mature women who share openly and speak out on things that are normally not spoken about, could break walls of silence in the communities and families and thus help young women a lot in their often very difficult situations.

Maybe the strongest impression of this conference were seeing the young people open up each day more. For many of them, especially those who come from slums and poorer living conditions and countries it was the first time to meet with young people from other African countries. Watching them understanding their situation on a global level, expressing themselves, finding new perspectives and forming friendships was the deepest treasure of this meeting.

Now we all have a lot of homework. GEN Africa is one year old – a young but strong network, embedded in many African cultures and – in Dr. Trinto´s words (president GEN Congo): in the common dream of prosperous and sustainable communities, in cooperation with nature. Luckily we have not only to rely on our own private power to achieve this goal. GEN International president Kosha: “Not only during the conference but during the whole time forming GEN Africa it feels that it is not us doing this work. It is something working through us, because it wants to happen.”
Asante sana to everybody who was involved.

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