61 minutes | Sep 26th 2020

7 Bayo Akomolafe on Unlearning Mastery

Bayo Akomolafe (Ph.D.) is Chief Curator and Executive Director of The Emergence Network. Author, lecturer, speaker, father, and rogue planet saved by the gravitational pull of his wife Ej, Bayo hopes to inspire a diffractive network of sharing within an ethos of new responsivity – a slowing down, an ethics of entanglement, an activism of inquiry, a ‘politics of surprise’. Born into a Yoruba family, Bayo graduated summa cum laude in psychology in 2006 at Covenant University (Nigeria). Bayo conducted doctoral research into Yoruba indigenous healing systems as part of his inner struggle to regain a sense of rootedness to his community. Bayo understands he is on a shared decolonial journey with his family to live a small, intense life. He often refuses to share pictures of himself that do not include his wife, Ej, who is (everyone can assure you) the more interesting part of their entanglement. He is an ecstatic (and often exhausted, but grateful) father to Alethea Aanya and Kyah Jayden.  Learn more about his work at www.Bayoakomolafe.net  In this episode, Dr. Akomolafe and I discuss: The wisdom of slowing down in response to climate change. He shares the Yoruba and feminist insight that our response to a crisis is often part of the crisis—solutions that seem to make sense within our current understanding can reinforce the problem. Slowing down is an invitation to a different way of thinking, of noticing and appreciating nature, and of framing or re-framing what it means to be human.  How unschooling his children is part of his response to climate change and the cultural structures that created it. When unschooling, he meets his children not as inadequate and requiring ‘schooling’ but as philosophers in their own right, ready for dialogue and exploratory learning. Post-activism and the dismantling of whiteness in conversation with indigenous perspectives and post-modernist thought. How can we transition our focus beyond colonial oppressive structures and toward a broader sense of agency for all beings? This can involve re-naturalizing ourselves via new alliances and viewpoints in which humans are not necessarily central or dominant. “We are learning that we are part of the world and maybe that is a powerful riddle.”Why making sanctuary feels crucial to him now. It is an invitation to inquire into the world in new ways, seeking types of power beyond whiteness and the nation-state, “trying to acknowledge a world that is animated and vital and alive as an ally in these times, in the Anthropocene.” “Maybe we need sanctuaries today. Places of unlearning mastery. We don’t know what kind of futures are in front of us, but not knowing is part of sanctuary and losing our sense of mastery, outside of the colonial project.” Bayo shares his thoughts on grief as activism, loss as an invitation to new ways of being, and hopelessness as a resource. How Yoruba healers and plant medicine teach us to humbly see “the world as alive through and through, each component containing agency” and none complete on its own. This differs from the western scientific project of controlling the natural world. The more we pursue supremacy the more we discover that it is not attainable because the natural world within us and outside of us is more complex than we can conceive or dominate. Bayo advocates the work of “unlearning mastery, unlearning our domineering and dominating and control perspective” that has led us to try to control other humans and the natural world, to our detriment.Why “a world full of play” might be the best we can imagine for the human future on Earth. A way to freedom, authenticity, and “the liveliness of the world at large.”
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