How can indigenous concepts contribute to the rehabilitation of outer, as well as inner landscapes?
The following is a summary of job-shadowing with Joshua Konkankoh
at the African Way – Association for Cooperation and Sustainable Development in Portugal,
completed by Joanna Bojczewska as part of Agro-Perma-Lab Erasmus+ staff mobility.
What is job-shadowing?
Job shadowing is a type of on-the-job training that involves spending time following a professional as they work and perform their role. It can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to get a better understanding of their particular career. In this case job-shadowing was 18 days long and residential – it took place primarily on the farm of the host with Erasmus+ funding provided by Agro-Perma-Lab Foundation covering the expenses of travel and accommodation.
Who was the job-shadowing host and receiving organisation?
The host, Joshua Konkankoh, is an indigenous elder and social entrepreneur who combines regenerative education, permaculture, and environmental leadership to reduce social inequalities. Konkankoh provides spiritual guidance, indigenous perspective and has vast expertise in building social movements.
Joanna and Joshua both attended the Training Permaculture Teachers (TPT) course in November 2022 as part of her Erasmus+, where they met. During the course, the two participated in the design of a specialised PDC course, focusing on the education with refugees, with emphasis on trauma healing and mitigation in the context of learning.
Joshua Konkankoh Ngwa, has over 45 years experience in social impact projects including various advisory roles with Global Ecovillege Networj GEN Africa, Defend the Sacred Alliance, Ahoska Europe’s Elder’s Council, the Conscious Food System Alliance (at UNDP), and Tamera Peace Research Centre.
He is the director of African Way, the creator of a globally recognised model Bafut Ecovillage and a social investor who implements integrative projects at the intersection of practices from the global south (indigenous traditions) and the north (modern approaches to climate change, economics, education).
These experiences include a rare range of perspectives to be found in any one organisation ecosystem (and even rarer to find in one person!). Joshua rightly commented “I would consider myself an institution”.
The job-shadowing experience enabled Joanna to reflect deeply about organisational & educational strategy and collaboration culture from a broad international perspective. Her job-shadowing focused also on developing teaching, social entrepreneurship & integral design competencies as well as inner and interpersonal awareness practices in ecological systems work.
Co-creation agreement in job-shadowing
As part of the job-shadowing, we agreed prior to meeting in person, that the process was two-directional and mutual, and we would ensure that both persons were recognised at once as both learners and teachers. We met early in March 2023 and saw a great compatibility for a shared exploration.
In order to give a structure to our learning, we used permaculture Design framework called the Design Web (of L.Macnamara), ideally suited for social and people-centred, emergent designs. We decided, that our mutual interest was to design the Konkankoh Regenerative Consultancy, because it was at once helpful to Joshua in developing his branch project, and to Joanna – in terms of honing her permaculture design and entrepreneurship skills.
The two collaborating met daily for Dialogues (dialogo de saberes), combining indigenous, permaculture and Integral ways of knowing in a subtle process of co-creation; talks were recorded and transcribed in “Treasure Hunt” working document, and a template of patterns and principles woven, to a poetic effect in a slideshow presentation.
In the first part of job-shadowing, Joanna guided the Web-Design process to uncover and organise the hidden architecture of the emerging Konkankoh Consultancy. Joshua shared multiple layers of his wisdom and professional experience modelling the principles of his native Bafut Society in Cameroon, Love Economy, indigenous permaculture and mindfulness.
The second half of the project involved helping Joshua to prepare for his international contribution at the “Love is Freedom” Earth Retreat at Plum Village, famous Zen Centre of Thich Nath Han in France, where he was invited as an indigenous elder along with other wisdom-keepers from around the world. Joanna supported Joshua with her extensive background in Zen training to translate some of the consciousness, spiritual and ecological dimensions of his work between indigenous and Eastern articulations and praxis.
The interactions were based on an agreements about communication and feedback culture including:
- Skill-sharing, perspective-sharing and theory-sharing in complementary domains between participant and hosts to take place in the flow of the activities;
- The mentor would ensure communication with the host organisation;
- The participant would commit to enable experience/knowledge sharing between sending and hosting organisations;
- At least once a week there would be a supervision session;
- An evaluation session would be held at least once a week, during which the results of the learning process in the organisation would be examined and checked.
What were the core learning goals of job-shadowing?
In job-shadowing with Joshua Konkankoh, Joanna aimed to engage in activities of designing and building regenerative initiatives, partnerships and educational programmes presently ongoing in African Way. She also wished to be exposed to project-planning & communication strategies especially those, integrating indigenous principles and concepts.
The initial 5 Learning Outcomes (LO):
increased knowledge of transformative & co-creative education approaches in permaculture education +
Co-creation means we are completely transparent about our intentions and completely open to make mistakes and introduce adaptations. Permaculture education the African Way inspires co-creation.
Joshua’s and Herman’s (his son’s) opening of their home, sharing of dialogue and the “African Way” of organising were unsurmountable in hospitality, care and professionalism!
Capacity to apply permaculture design principles to the development of educational project
There are different dimensions to design (of nearly anything): subtle design includes the contact with the sphere of ultimate concern and intention; gross design translates subtle design into actionable schemes.
Experimenting with a synergy of three design frameworks: permaculture, indigenous and integral was a true experiment worth testing, even when we had to round some edges!
increased ability to apply regenerative financing principles and social enterprise model to visionary non-profits
Using principles and concepts of indigenous Bafut Culture, we have explored the Economy of Love, which holds sacred the space beyond ordinary value systems. This is Spiritual Forest Shrine, left untouched and unclaimed by any one person.
Setting intention on higher qualities (such as awareness, intuition, courage, maturity, etc) lifts up all endeavours to a new level!
increased ability to articulate & communicate the project’s core vision cross-culturally across a broad spectrum of partnerships and networks core vision
In complex organisation ecosystems (multi-stakeholder), there exist multiple layers of narratives, appropriate to diverse pockets of partnerships and networks.
The quality of articulation in Bafut Ecovillege Action Plan or 2nd EcoCamp Strategic Document was high and communication skills strong in the team. Story Board was a great tool to learn!
increased knowledge of indigenous modalities of learning, such as based on traditional concept of rite of passage
Traditional community and kinship systems overlapped with modern civil organisation structures (like associations) create very interesting possibilities for long-term relations. These can hold rites of passages of new generation of leadership, which we lack in Europe.
I was honoured to meet two indigenous elders (Joshua and Cacique of the Huni Kuin Kaxinawa tribe in Brasil) and share a healing ceremony.
Extended thanks to other contributors to this job-shadowing experience: Asia Humka (Erasmus+ coordinator), Konkankoh Joshua, Milene Montanha, Koh Crystel, Koh Herman, Elizabeth, Nuno Rosado, Christy Miller.
Examples of learning activities and case studies:
Activities in Transformative co-creative methods & design in education (LO1+LO2)
- PERMACULTURE DESIGN #5 “Konkankoh Regenerative Consultancy” – part of Permaculture Diploma, practice
- 2nd ECO-CAMP AFRICAN WAY – Strategy Meeting & Planning Document case study, review
- AFRICAN PEACE VILLAGE – Land research and negotiations meeting; practice
- BETTER WORLD CAMEROON – Organisation Management & Action Plan case study review
- GAIA EDUCATION GLOBAL – engagement with the use of their certification system, observing
Activities in Regenerative financing in social enterprise non-profits (LO3)
- MARKETING INTERVIEW with Adrian Howell https://adrianhowell.substack.com/p/south-to-north, AND SHORT FILM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls9fMOLRPNc – observing technical & narrative setup, contributing notes towards concept – observing/practice
- KONKANKOH’S BUY ME A COFFEE ACCOUNT https://bmc.link/konkankoh – fundraising site review
- INDIGENOUS & MODERN, MENTORING PRINCE PRUDENCE – the Ambassador of the Bafut Ecovillege Reconstruction Fundraising- case study, observing
- KONKANKOH CONSULTANCY WEBSITE – technical support for activation, review
- MONTEMOR-O-NOVO MINGA COOPERATIVE & FARMERS MARKET – case studies, observing
Activities in the area: Professional vision articulation for network-building (LO4)
- UNDP Motivational Letter & CV – help with re-editing both – review/practice
- COFSA (UNDP) STRATEGIC RETREAT 2023 – FILM https://youtu.be/5CrvEBWcqcc – observing
- STORY BOARD: STRATEGIC NARRATIVE FOR AFRICAN WAY – by Evan Ross www.Storyseer.io, contribution of feedback and learning of the communication tool; review/practice
- MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING: BWC & African Way – case study of partnership, observing
- INVITATION TO Ark Global Summit (13-17 November) – case study of networking, observing
Activities in the area: Indigenous concepts of learning & becoming (LO5)
- INDIGENOUS WISDOM CUCSTODIAN: “The day I earned the highest title in the land “NTWALAH”” – case study https://youtu.be/CMsic5c2uvY; observing
- “LOVE IS FREEDOM” EARTH RETREAT at Plum Village Zen Centre: observing/practice
- Preparatory conversations and staying in touch during the event; practice
- Transmission: receiving the 5 Mindfulness Trainings certificate; observing
- Leading the inter-faith Water Ceremony on the Retreat Solstice Celebration; observing (online)
- SACRED EARTH COUNCIL FORMATION, FRANCE, (UNDP, COFSA) – case study; observing
- FINDHORN, SCOTLAND – INVITATION TO LEAD WORKSHOP- workshop with GEN to lay the foundations for a new paradigm of leadership grounded in kincentric ecology – observing
- PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN AMAZONIA AND AMBAZONIA – follow up meeting and sacred medicine ceremony with Indigenous Elder from Brasil – case study; observing/practice
Monte do Cardal – Susan’s & Ward; Farm [ side collaboration & design ]
Extended gratitude to Susan Jane Norrie and Ward who enabled me a longer rent on their organic farm, the location of African Way’s office and the 1st EcoCamp African Way. Thanks to that extension, we completed an additional collaborative design of the Art Website for Susan: NORRIEART.COM. The two artists have an enormous wealth of life’s art work and have been supportive and kind hosts in all ways.
Joanna Bojczewska – Founder of Agro-Perma-Lab and Nyeleni Polska – the Food Sovereignty Network. A graduate of The London School of Economics (LSE) at the Faculty of Social Anthropology. Joanna is a long-term Agroecology & Permaculture educator and integral designer of social innovations, partnering internationally in a variety of transformative learning, ecological renewal and conscious food systems projects.
The “EduGlow” project is financed by the European Union within the framework of the Erasmus+ project. Photo by J.Bojczewska, African Way