We Are All Indigenous Global Citizens
Heartfulness eMagazine|October 2021
WAKANYI HOFFMAN is a Global Education Specialist and founder of the African Folktales Project. Here, she speaks with SARA BUBBER about the value of storytelling and passing down wisdom through generations, her Kikuyu culture, and how all of us are indigenous people contributing to the world.
SARA BUBBER
Q: Hello Wakanyi. It is a pleasure to meet with you today. I love listening to stories, reading them, and meeting people who tell stories, so I’m very happy we are talking.

Thank you! I’m also quite excited to have this conversation with you, Sara.

Q: In the Heartfulness community, we often talk about the Wisdom Bridge – the transfer of wisdom from elders to youth, and from youth to elders, because learning is a dual process. It signifies the relationship between traditional cultural heritage and wisdom, and the present. What is the importance of the Wisdom Bridge from your perspective?

Wow, that’s a really important way of framing it! Off the top of my head, the Wisdom Bridge is a rite of passage from one generation to another. It signifies the idea of passing the baton from the old to the young, so that they become custodians of knowledge, whether that is cultural knowledge, spiritual knowledge, or values.

Of course, there is reciprocity as well. Children offer wisdom to the old, so there is a kind of remembrance for our elders that wisdom is an ongoing pursuit, and that they can gather wisdom from the young as much as they can gather from their peers. Then, the other way around, elders are passing down wisdom to the younger generation, signifying, “It is our task to carry you forward.”

To some degree, I see the Wisdom Bridge as a reminder that we are all indigenous to this planet. It is very important to hold that in our hearts, to understand that we’re all human beings and our knowledge is ancient. It has been growing. It never ended. We tend to put indigenous people to the side and have parallel worlds going on. I think it’s important to recall, and to recall from each other, that we are all indigenous to our planet.

For me, the Wisdom Bridge is a symbolic movement of knowledge from one generation to another. It is also a symbolic movement from one culture to another. That way, we’re not stuck. You can take the wisdom and knowledge that has been passed down to you and recreate it, using it to learn about others. It is also a bridge to other worlds. There’s a lot there. I see it as a rite of passage from one generation to the next, and a way to connect with others who do not come from your cultural background.

It is the gift of elders to the next generation, and it is a way for elders to recall who they were when they were younger, receiving that gift from others. There’s a whole exchange of knowledge that goes on when that is allowed to happen.

Q: I really like what you said about it being a rite of passage and a gift. It’s a wonderful gift! As you said, we often keep indigenous people aside, so we are losing out on their wisdom.

The Wisdom Bridge is creaky and in need of repair. The relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, tribes and urban populations, are not so strong now. Many of our ancient cultures are either being absorbed into modern urban life, or people are moving away from them. So we are losing a lot of wisdom from our past. This affects all areas of lifestyle. What can we do to save and preserve the bridge that we have?

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