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with Marianne Knuth, founder of Kufunda Learning Village
August 16, 2011
Full interview with Marianne Knuth - Read
yourself in five words?
I'm a woman that loves to connect with other people's passion and
the best piece of advice you've ever received?
To listen to my heart and not to look for answers from outside.
the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
I think I suppress those memories (laughs).
is your most treasured possession?
My Tingshas, they're Tibetan bells. We use them for dialogue and
circle work. Sometimes to mark the beginning with a sound and then
people can just sit and be, and we always end with it. It's marking
space in a way that's more sacred.
do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Probably losing hope, related to that, losing faith in yourself
and your ability to escape whatever situation you're in. To think
that there's nothing more you can do and you don't have that internal
resource to rise above whatever is challenging you.
have any strange hobbies?
No I don't think so. I like to run, do yoga, meditate, and read.
do you dislike most about your appearance?
One of my teeth sticks out, but when the dentist said I could have
it changed I realised that I would lose my capacity to whistle,
so I decided not to.
is your greatest extravagance?
A really nice glass of red wine and Lindt dark chocolate.
do you have in your fridge?
Freshly milked cow's milk, and I just went to the Doon Estate Market
on Sunday, so I've got the most incredible bream paste. Otherwise
there's the usual yoghurt, juice . . .
is your greatest fear?
For some reason the thing that jumped into my mind was that Marianne
Williamson quote about how our greatest fear is not that we're inadequate
but that we are powerful beyond measure. I mean I don't go to sleep
thinking, 'I'm so afraid that I'm powerful' but I have noticed that
there are times when I have an opportunity to shine, that I'm afraid
of taking away attention from someone else. Another worry is that
this constant source of energy and belief that everything is possible,
what if that dries out, and that would be the worst possible thing
that could ever happen.
there times when you feel that flame flicker?
I've just come out of four years that's been an all time low.
I think I made rational choices which was alright, but it wasn't
coming from that place of inspiration, where I know if I work from
that place anything is possible. Returning to Zimbabwe was a part
of listening to my inspiration.
have you got in your pockets right now?
I don't have anything in my pockets.
is your favourite journey?
The journey of creating Kufunda.
The journey of coming home and creating something. It wasn't
a matter of choice. Every cell of my body was directing me back
are your heroes in real life?
Ghandi was a real inspiration for me, now I think he's a little
bit too austere. I think we can do good in the world and enjoy life
at the same time. A lot of my heroes are people who have chosen
slightly different avenues than what we see as traditional success,
but that are so full of life and vitality and inspiration. There
are people who are creating similar things like I'm doing at Kufunda,
but all around the world. There's Manish Jain from Shikshantar in
India. His mission is to create learning societies. There are two
women in Greece, Sara Whiteley and Maria Scordiales, their enquiry
is around living wholeness and they've created a beautiful centre
in Greece where people gather a few times a year, and they do work
in Europe and apply their work to real issues and problems and they
bring a feminine way of negotiating to the corridors of power.
and where were you happiest?
In the early days of Kufunda, when I was letting purpose flow through
me, and also when I was at university. I became president of an
international student organisation called AIESEC. That for me was
the first real lesson that anything is possible.
is your biggest vice?
For all this talk about collaboration and needing each other, I'm
not very good at asking for help. I'm good at creating process where
people can work together, but when things get stuck, I still think
that I have to figure it out myself.
Do you have a stubborn streak?
is probably why collaborations are so important for me because I'm
still learning it (laughs).
were you like at school?
I went up to O level here and I was very studious and hardworking.
Then when I went to Denmark, I kind of stayed like that, but suddenly
there was this big world and I was free. I was exploring life and
doing all sorts of other things that my parents didn't think were
as important as book learning.
are you doing next?
Right now I'm in a place where I'm doing things that inspire me,
whether it's at Kufunda or elsewhere and I want to write about the
last ten years of my life and see what comes out of that. I've been
so busy for such a long time, and it feels so good to have time
for an afternoon to write.
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