Friday, May 26, 2017

It takes a Village to Build a Village

In one Sufi story, a man on his deathbed decides to leave his son with words of wisdom. He says to his son, “when you eat, eat sweet; when you sleep, sleep on silk and everywhere you go build a home”. With the last word, he passed on. The young man followed his father’s words, he went on a diet of sweet food, slept on a thin cloth made from silk and wherever he traveled, he built a new house, thanks to some funds left by his father. After a while, the young man ran out of money, he was sickly from eating too much sugar and not sleeping well. It dawned on him then that he might have been given the wrong advice by his father. In great anger, disappointment and despair he visits his father’s friend to whom he complained about his deceased father. Upon listening to this young man, the father’s friend said, “ you did not hear your father well. All he said was, eat when you are hungry, that way food will taste way more delicious, that work hard everyday so that when you got to sleep you sleep solid and deep, and that wherever you go make friends so that their homes will become your home”

I am calling on you, friend in the spirit of Ubuntu ( togetherness) to help us build Ubuntu Learning Village, that will also be your home in Zimbabwe.

Over the last 5 years, myself, family members and friends have been working tirelessly to create a grassroots movement in rural Gutu, Zimbabwe which has come to express itself as the Ubuntu Learning Village. Our intentional dream is to curate a physical space where local and global community can gather to learn, share and collectively create ways and systems for sustainable well-being. Over the years we have seeded and grown many beautiful projects, we have: grown our own food, made our own medicines from local plants, facilitated conversations about justice and community wellness, started an Arts School (Mbira, Dance and Song), shared the power of Mbira and theatre in sacred ceremonies, at schools and other venues . We have also built housing in the village to accommodate Ubuntu Village community members who are currently living there.

The next phase of our movement is to continue to grow in inclusive and sustainable ways. We have a lot of assets: 80 hactres of land, people who are committed and work hard, food, animals, natural clay bricks and a lot of excitement. With approximately $20000 US we will be able to:
· Build a large space to host the Ubuntu Early Childhood Learning Center
· Build accommodation to host approximately 20 people at a time, a large gathering space, a larger kitchen, 4 arborloos ( Compost Toilets), 3 shower rooms.
· To buy materials to build beds, shelfs, chairs and small tables
· Add more solar panels and batteries for electricity

We are asking for financial support in order to purchase materials and pay community members for the skills and labour they bring to the village.   

Please forward your contribution via email money transfer using this email:, or via 

Your support is greatly appreciated and we would be happy to continue to share stories of our learning and growth with you.

Please stay connected with us:
Here is a link of Ubuntu Mbira Group enacting a ceremony in honour of the Njuzu, the water spirit.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Audio slide-show: Ubuntu Learning Village in Zimbabwe, with Moyo Rainos Mutamba and Kevin Best

Here is the Youtube Link for the Audio Slide Show.

From the May 25, 2016 Unify Toronto Dialogue (, "Indigenize or Die" Series, session 5: Time for Planting Seeds (Being in Relationship with All of Creation Part 2)

Following on our April session's exploration of the Indigenous basis for restoring balance with urban landscapes, in this session we looked at planting seeds literally and metaphorically.

Doug Anderson from Naadmaagit Ki Group (NKG) ( returned, joined this time by guest facilitator Moyo Mutamba, to help us develop plans for taking action in Toronto around re-indigenizing the land.

In this 25-minute audio-clip of Moyo's presentation, accompanied by photos, you will learn about Ubuntu, a Learning Village in Zimbabwe, and the way they are planting seeds of transformation for the well-being and survival of all.

- "Indigenize or Die" Series Curator Kevin Best
- Guest Presenter Moyo Rainos Mutamba
Audio-visual editing by Morgane Kot

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Building Physical Learning Ecosystems, one Village at a Time

As we are settling in Toronto, one theme that we have been conversing about is that of gratitude and appreciation. To this end we came to reflect upon what makes it possible for Ubuntu Learning Village to be where it is now, from an appreciative standpoint. We ask our-self: What does it take to build a physical learning ecosystem ? Our own learning shows us that some of the key resources are place, networks, and people with an openness to understanding each process, undertaking and outcome as an opportunity for learning.

Resources are the tangible and intangible inputs that make creating possible; the entirety of the materials, skills, and ideas that constitute the physicality and energy of a place. Three of our most valuable resources are ourselves (Ubuntu residents), the land and our growing network of support.

Place speaks to the need for land, upon which to build collective living and gathering spaces, and from which to derive livelihoods. Land gives us food, water and materials to build shelter. It holds the memories and histories of all our relationships: to nature, to animals, to our ancestors and to our indigenous knowledges and practices. Our wellness is intricately intertwined with that of the land, meaning that the care we show it comes back to us. This understanding is a fundamental principle of Ubuntu Learning Village. The 80 hectares of land we build upon is rich with trees, animals, bees, rivers, and natural medicines. The land is our teacher, elder and keeper, who guides our vision and therefore our collective decision making at the village.

Networks refer to the preexisting and potential connections between people and communities with common visions, or engaged in complementary work. The network of friends, family and organizations that have supported us with funds, materials, ideas and important connections has helped our vision materialize in ways we never imagined.  We are grateful and humbled by the outpouring support we received from Kufunda Learning Village, the SWB Aeroplan Miles Program, the Fortress Farm community that surrounds Ubuntu, Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions, the Edelweiss Motel, Tirikoti Arts and many friends and relatives in Zimbabwe, Canada and elsewhere. Networks are essential venues for collaboration, intercultural exchanges and knowledge sharing. More importantly, when networks of people committed to social and environmental justice become dense - such that the ideas and practices of those within them align - change truly happen.

People who have made Ubuntu Learning Village possible are many, from within  and outside of Zimbabwe. The Ubuntu residents who are currently on the ground bring a unique set of skills, talents and dreams, not to mention, they are all incredibly hard working, good humored and committed people. To the folks who have come to Ubuntu, to build, thatch, deliver materials, donate musical instruments, teach mbira and marimba, install solar panels, and affirm that what we are doing is important and meaningful, we are very grateful. We are excited to continue building relationships with groups and individuals who share our vision, as the materialization of Ubuntu's physical learning ecosystem unfolds.

As we continue to reflect upon our work at Ubuntu Learning Village, we carry with us a deep appreciation for learning and all who made it possible for us to have the opportunity to learn, which is essentially a thread that emerges out of an  appreciative core.

Nadia Saad and Moyo Rainos Mutamba

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thank you Schools Without Borders

We  -  Nadia, Moyo and baby Tapiwa  -  traveled to Zimbabwe and back with the support of the Schools Without Borders Aeroplan Miles Program ( Via Beyond Miles) this year (January-April 2016).  We were very grateful for the Miles and time we had to work with, although when building a village from the ground up, it is never enough !  We have just returned and are already reminiscing and marveling at the amount of work - difficult and joyful, tangible and abstract, practical and emotional, interpersonal and personal, that came together during our three-month stay at our Ubuntu Learning Village.

The Aeroplan Miles we were fortunate and grateful to have received from the SWB enabled us to travel to rural Zimbabwe this year, where we stayed for 3 months building a learning village founded upon the dreams and values of ourselves and a group of 15+ locals who make up the community at current. 

We began holding regular meetings as a collective, and exchanged facilitation skills and techniques so that everyone could participate fully in meetings, have the skills and capacity to host meetings, and curate conditions for collective decision making. We collectively composed a set of village principles and values, which we translated into vivid murals on the walls of the existing homes. 

We contributed to the building (by residents) of two new eco-homes in the village, made of clay bricks and grass-thatched roofs. We built a filter-sink to bring grey dish water directly to water the herb garden. We brought friends from Kufunda Learning Village to assemble solar panels on the homes to provide electricity for lights and power-tools. We dug two new composting toilets, and planted avocado trees over the old ones. We fortified food production on the land by planting an herb and vegetable garden and fruit trees, by building bee hives, and by increasing our herd of cows from 10 to 17 (including milk-giving females) and our chickens from 25 to 65 (including 40 egg-layer hens). 

We co-created an operational structure with the Ubuntu residents where each take a role of responsibility over a different component of village life, from farming to animal care to maintenance of infrastructure to food preparation, etc.  We purchased the inputs necessary for each resident to pursue their own income-generating project or hobby, from photography, to barbering/hair styling, to small product sales. We initiated one resident's training in Early Childhood Development, with hopes that we can open a much-needed preschool based on a specialized Ubuntu curriculum for the neighboring community on-site. And we hosted several conversations between residents and neighbours to engender understanding and good relationships. Our presence on the ground was critical in seeing all of this through, and that was made possible by having SWB's support. 


Nadia Y Saad and Moyo Rainos Mutamba

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ubuntu Learning Village

What is Ubuntu Learning Village?


Desmond Tutu articulates well the wholeness of Ubuntu, he explains:

 “It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion.”A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them."
Yet Ubuntu goes beyond human persons. It is a connection with al beings. 

Ubuntu Learning Village came into being as a result of this search for conscientious humanity, conversations with friends in Canada and in Zimbabwe, family, people of Kubiku Village, people of Kufunda Learning Village. Financial support from Moyo wa Africa, and pledges of support from CAP AIDS.

Ubuntu Learning Village is located in Serima, Gutu, Zimbabwe. It is located on 80 hectares of mixed farm land and natural forest. Ubuntu Learning Village is the unity of land, water, air, earth, creatures, people, plants and spirits, intentionally weaving together capabilities, resources, strengths, and knowledges free of hierarchies to create a community of love, respect, fullness, positive relationships, growth and sustainability. We endeavour to experiment with old methods of cooperative economics (in ChiKaranga, this is known as mushandirapamwe), feed one another, utilize skills inherent in ourselves and ultimately eliminate the cycle of one-sided dependency. We also aim to pull together our knowledges, document them, create new ideas and methods and share with local communities and the world. Our long-term vision is that in living a natural, peaceful, ecologically sustainable existence we can demonstrate the possibilities that lie in creative cooperation outside of the capitalist-individualism construct.

1. Land for food production
When I (Mutamba) visited Zimbabwe in 2009 and 2010, one of the critical issues that people agonized over was the persistent shortage of food.  Due to continual droughts that have been affecting most parts of Zimbabwe since 1991, many harvests have been inadequate to sustain the communities who cultivate them. Zimbabwe is endowed with people who have been farmers for many generations and with adequate rain, hunger would never be a problem. After a series of meetings with members of Kubiku Village, where I was born, we decided that we needed to have access to land in a part of Zimbabwe that receives regular rainfalls. Serima area was suggested to us and we started looking at purchasing land there. Ubuntu Learning Village support food security by providing harvests to families at Ubuntu. The food will be cooperatively grown and harvested, utilizing the community cooperative models of mushandirapamwe (cooperative economics). 
2. A place of living and  learning
Inspired by the many communities around the world, who are leading the way in trans-localization, we practice local learning with a global consciousness. Trans-localization is a practice whereby communities do local work to respond to local challenges, while simultaneously maintaining connections with other communities around the world who are also doing work in their localities.Ubuntu aims to be a hub of learning that is centred on doing, relating, and horizontal connecting.

Local learning:
The current formalized education system in Zimbabwe, which many people are encouraged to join, is inaccessible for many reasons:
a. It costs money to go to school. Expenses include school fees, uniforms, learning materials, accommodation, and transportation. The majority of people cannot afford this.
b. The education system follows a banking approach to learning whereby students are considered empty vessels where knowledge can be deposited, often by means of coercion, penalties and rewards.
c. The education system has completely neglected the local environment and the needs of the people, focusing entirely on training people to provide labour to government agencies and businesses. This has resulted in massive unemployment rates when businesses have fallen apart and the government has run out of resources to sustain itself.
Ubuntu will provide a free learning space, with a focus on doing, living, relating, consciousness and social justice. The space will be open to all ages and will be informal, learner-driven, and fun. The intention is not to create experts with certificates but rather to encourage self-exploration, self-awareness, self-reliance, survival and community inter-dependency. The skills shared at Ubuntu will hopefully be taken back into learners’ home communities.

Many communities around the world are experimenting with learning processes that are ecologically and socially just. They share these processes among themselves, creating a wealth of knowledges that are free from patent laws, thus making them accessible to those who are interested. We are hoping to extend this sharing in Zimbabwe, connecting with pioneers at Kufunda Learning Village ( in Ruwa, Zimbabwe as well as other communities in Canada, India, Mexico, Brazil, for example. We also hope to host people from around the world who are interested in sharing what they know and are open to learning with us. It is with this approach that we can promote the work of communities who are re-vitalizing their internal wisdoms and indigenous knowledges to resolve issues that we are now all facing collectively.

3. Living Arts, Spirit and Ceremony
A connection with the land is a connection with the self and a connection with all that the earth holds. In our own way in Zimbabwe, dance, marimba, drum, mbira, song, ululation, sculpture, and painting (to mention just a few arts) make this connection possible. At Ubuntu, the arts and ceremony will be at the centre of everything we do. In Zimbabwe, we are fortunate to have elders who are committed to the practice and passing on of spiritual heritage. We will collaborate with these griots and knowledge keepers and nurture a generation of people that seek to live  holistic and grounded existences.
Moyo Rainos Mutamba

Ubuntu at the Black Canadian Studies Association Conference (BCSA), Halifax, May 22nd 2015

Today I participated as a presenter on a panel at the BCSA conference in Halifax. The panel consisted of my friend Sharrae Lyon of AlieNation and myself. After doing an opening ceremony that consisted of mbira music, welcoming ancestors into the space, meditation and connecting with each other, I shared the story of Ubuntu Philosophy and Ubuntu Learning Village. Through sharing this story, I continue to learn about the importance of grounding Ubuntu LEarning Village in relational integrity, love, community, positivity and deep care. There was encouraging interest in Ubuntu and on Ubuntu Philosophy.  This is encouraging for myself and the community on the ground in Zimbabwe. More importantly, as we continue to build in Zimbabwe, like all trans-localization movements, we will continue to take opportunities to share our stories, and hopefully inspire others to create spaces where we they can live their Ubuntu. After the presentation a brother Harvey H. Millar of Management Technologies did an interview with Sharrae Lyon and myself  He will share the interview on an online TV channel he is working. I will post the link here when the channel is up and running. Many thanks to Sharrae Lyon, Brother Harvey H. Millar and everyone who came to the plenary session.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Creating a World of Relationalists

 At Ubuntu Learning Village, we have practically embraced the idea that we become powerful by creating power using our own creativity and the resources around us. By powerful we do not mean having the resources or capacity to oppress others, but the exact opposite. Powerfulness does not have to come at the cost of the powerlessness of others. In fact that is not being powerful, that is being oppressive. We can all be powerful simultaneously and be content with our own power.What we mean is that we are becoming a resource space and team to support the creation for conditions for people to explore their freedom and hopefully create more spaces of freedom.

In our Ubuntu , Beings are everything that exist, the visible and the invisible.  And Relations means the reality that we in our being in this place and time together we affect each other.
Beings in Relation

The manner in which we have envisaged creating this powerfulness is by means of the idea of Beings in Relation. 

 According to one post on, Being is an extremely broad concept encompassing objective and subjective features of reality and existence. Anything that partakes in being is also called a "being", though often this use is limited to entities that have subjectivity (as in the expression "human being")  and

Relation according to means an existing connection; a significant association between or among things

 Beings in Relation therefore is a practical disposition towards honoring our current reality, which is that we are always in relation with all Beings around us. Whereas sometimes these relationships are closely felt, sometimes they are not. However, this distance does not mean relational significance decreases. We respect the trees, the earth, the grass, the animals and each other. Our hope is to project this into the world and create a world of relationalists, in which people honor our relatedness. It is our belief that when we recognize and live by the virtues that honor our mutual connectedness we have the greatest chances of eradicating negative forms of power. 

By Moyo Rainos Mutamba