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Soul Safari with William Whitecloud

The word Safari was first an Arabic word ‘safara’, meaning ‘a journey,’ which was first used as a foreign word in the English language in 1858. Then Swahili: The Arabic word found its way to East Africa where it was adapted to the Swahili verb kusafiri which means ‘to travel’ and the noun safari.

Shosholoza means “go forward” in the Ndebele language, and I think this summarises my experience on the Soul Safari perfectly: the song is about hope and was used by anti-apartheid activists during apartheid. When apartheid fell, the song became a vehicle for national reconciliation, and South Africans of all backgrounds joined together in singing Shosholoza in willing their team to victory in the 1995 rugby World Cup (which they won by the way!). The imbalance in wealth and power in South Africa and across the world is far from sorted out, and there is still much healing to be done, but I realised on this trip that the work starts with us: on this trip I opened my heart and dropped my own past: realising that none of this forms me, I discovered my soul purpose and was able to connect to source energy. It is from here that we can achieve greatness and act from a place of true loving kindness.

I always swore I would not go on a Safari, because it represented colonialism to me: generally images we see of safari are of rich white tourists travelling to Africa to take fotos in their best in khaki. Africa has been raped, pillaged, and squandered ever since Europeans first decided she was profitable, and so I felt uncomfortable, especially being a white passing person of mixed heritage to go on safari.

So why did I choose to take part? Having read William Whitecloud’s The Last Shaman, and studied his teachings, I had made a new pact to myself: the only way I would ever go on safari were if it were William’s Soul Safari to Swaziland and South Africa, a journey said to have a profound transformational effect based on the essential elements of his work. The soul safari was said to pair inner awakening with the wonders of Africa through your heart, and that my life would be changed forever…. so when I managed to manifest a space there was no looking back, and when I found out I was accepted on the AIDF trip to South Africa working with Toni Stuart about transformation and identity at the ICA Live Art Festival I knew it was also time for that soul journey.

The theme and intention of the Soul Safari was to let go of the past to create every day, experience in the present, from our  highest source of creative power. Imagination is the real director of your life and the reality you can create. With William each day we had different exercises, meditations and made new discoveries about ourselves and each other, all based around opening our hearts, learning what we love and letting go of the past stories to see with fresh eyes. We finished each night with a heart meditation at sunset or around the fire.

My first room in Malandela’s in Swaziland was my own: a beautiful orange room, but when we moved on to Kruger park, I shared with the wonderfully talented DJ Queenfisher which was an absolute blessing. I also loved our family: the group who I toured with were Stephanie Yow, Sharon Raindancer, Lordes Anne Requena and William Whitecloud himself.

(Photo by Ahmad Jooma)

 

Race was still never far from my mind on the tour. Apartheid has left its footprint on the geography of South Africa as well as the balance of wealth, from the gated homes in certain areas, to the townships built to re-house a black work force. Kruger National Park is another reminder of the legacy of the white man in Africa: Kruger park stretches for nearly 200 miles and covers an area the size of Swaziland, making it South Africa’s largest, most-profitable, and best-known national park, ‘owned’ by Richard Branson among others.

William Whitecloud teaches many techniques to get you to your true self: connecting to innocence, the power of visualisation and intention and how to use your intuition. Before many of our Soul Safari game drives we would imagine and set an intention for what we’d love to see, for example, a leopard kill, giraffes running, cheetahs, crocodiles, a herd of zebra, lion cubs. And in many cases we saw exactly what we asked for, and sometimes more! I found myself so aware of the circle of life, that death and life are constant in the savannah. That everything is connected, and that the animals are so aware and at the same time unfazed by living their true purpose simply and authentically. When I got back to Jo’burg I found my eyes were still looking for animals: so accustomed had I come to spotting them.

The eight days I spent with William Whitecloud and the Soul Safari family were unforgettable. This trip has been a journey of soul: enlightening in so many ways. I learnt things about my family history and enneagram behaviours, I understood how my past was not serving me and my relationships, and I learnt to step into my heart. I also learnt that I could fit inside the box at the bottom of my bed (Photo by Meera Patel). On the last night, we watched the stars with a beautiful meal outside and I learnt to sing ‘Shosholoza’, also known as the second national anthem of South Africa: a mix of Zulu and Ndebele words that was sung by all-male African workers that were working in the South African mines, with Stuti Singh and all the staff at the Idube game resort where we were staying.

On the Soul Safari, I learnt that in dropping my grudges and made up stories and moving from my heart I can contribute to the world in a truly authentic way. If I truly go for what I love and act from that higher vibration then that can impact positively in ways we cannot even fathom: a planetary healing, and I got to imagining: what if everyone acted from heart in every moment! If everyone dropped their past and was authentically acting in their highest vibration: that would be a truly wonderful world: a world where politicians acted from love! A world where everyone knew their true power and potential. I know how much our beliefs can get in the way of following our dreams, but I would totally recommend this trip to anyone looking to open their heart and truly understand themselves and others from a place of love and kindness.

And if you haven’t already… read this book! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15782036-the-last-shaman

Thank you William Whitecloud, all the amazing people who were a part of the experience and my Soul Safari family!

Dance Activism! Sharing the wise words of Amrita Hepi

Here she is… her words say enough. I just LOVE her! Amrita Hepi is also one to watch for some amazing work internationally. In this video… right from her opening words and acknowledgements I am hooked. For her dedication to dance activism and for her huge heart! It is so true we learn to apologise: to shrink ourselves, to not be too much… and what we must all do to really find our inner dancer is be FREE! Thank you Amrita for this beautiful and inspirational video…

The Elderly Population BY MADISYN TAYLOR Our elderly population are our mentors and wise folk that came before us and paved the way for our future.

I read this this morning and thought it needed sharing. I am about to step into a new space in my ilife working with Yorkshire Dance on a project working with older people, and so when I saw this article, I just knew it needed sharing!
In tribal cultures, the elderly play an important role. They are the keepers of the tribe’s memories and the holders of wisdom. As such, the elderly are honoured and respected members of tribes. In many modern cultures, however, this is often not the case. Many elderly people say that they feel ignored, left out, and disrespected. This is a sad commentary on modernisation, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We can change this situation by taking the time to examine our attitudes about the elderly and taking action.

Modern societies tend to be obsessed with the ideas of newness, youth, and progress. Scientific studies tell us how to do everything – from the way we should raise our kids to what we need to eat for breakfast. As a result, the wisdom that is passed down from older generations is often disregarded. Of course, grandparents and retired persons have more than information to offer the world. Their maturity and experience allows for a larger perspective of life, and we can learn a lot from talking to elderly people. It’s a shame that society doesn’t do more to allow our older population to continue to feel productive for the rest of their lives, but you can help to make change. Perhaps you could help facilitate a mentorship program that would allow children to be tutored by the elderly in retirement homes. The elderly make wonderful storytellers, and creating programs where they could share their real life experiences with others is another way to educate and inspire other generations.

Take stock of your relationships with the elderly population. Maybe you don’t really listen to them because you hold the belief that their time has passed and they are too old to understand what you are going through. You may even realise that you don’t have any relationships with older people. Try to understand why and how our cultural perception of the elderly influences the way you perceive them. Look around you and reach out to someone who is elderly – even if you are just saying hello and making small talk. Resolve to be more aware of the elderly. They are our mentors, wise folk, and the pioneers that came before us and paved the way for our future.

The Jellyfish Metaphor: Dealing with trauma

How are jellyfish, dna, cancer, brain waves, stained glass windows, nature, space, the universe connected?

I came across this article on one of my favourite sites: Medium, and I just knew this would be the basis of my new work ‘Foreign Bodies’.

“Recently, a friend told me something I didn’t know about jellyfish: that certain types of jellyfish are responsible for bringing little bits of nutrients from the depths of the seas all the way up to the surface of the water. They deposit bits of those nutrients as they push their way upward, contributing nibbles for all sorts of creatures in the ecosystem. When I heard this, I immediately thought of how this can be a metaphor for our lives, and dealing with trauma. In the deep, dark places, things happen to us. We get hurt. We’re betrayed. We’re abused. It’s traumatic. And it’s very easy to keep all of these experiences in the depths. But, what would happen if we followed the way of the jellyfish? What if we decided to leave the depths and head toward the surface of the ocean?”. Beebe Sharkey

We are one and the same… a collective experience, all connected… via the worldwide web, via brainwaves, via Gaia, the universe… all the arguing and pettiness over difference… but ultimately… we are all equals.

In an age where tools like the web connect us, ‘Foreign Bodies’ explores why there is such ‘dis-ease’ around ‘other’. Building upon themes of medicine and science, the work draws parallels to the fear of ‘contamination’ and need for border controls. The piece crosses oceans to illuminate the enormity of time, telling the stories of individuals on a human level, and echoing the bigger story: ancestry, evolution and the haunting manifestation of power structures historically.

Foreign Bodies is a celebration of dance and music to pulsating and intertwining Afro House and Kuduro rhythms, ‘Foreign Bodies’ crosses borders and cultures to ask whether cultural traditions become lost with globalisation? What remains of our heritage once cultures mix? What is our right and responsibility to our ancestry and h(er)(is)tory?

What I love is that with the creation of each new piece it is like a new person: The piece has its own personality… I can’t wait to meet this personality and and work with a truly incredible team of artists!

Roots of Rumba Leeds


Thank you to Yorkshire Dance for having us, to Wardrobe, to DJ Lubi and all the amazing performers on the 20th July.

It felt like a really special night: we held a Q&A with the artists (Thank you for the suggestion Ian Abbot!) and we had a beautiful jam at the end of the session. The audience were fun and super supportive and enthusiastic… and the after party was just on fire!