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June 03, 2009

Transplanting Africa to Salt Spring

I spent most of my morning working on a resume of a man from Zimbabwe. He's a musician. His late father was a famous musician from Zimbabwe who was noted for taking music of a traditional African instrument (the mbira) and bringing that music to the U.S.

This is a young guy, late 20s/early 30s, met his wife, who is Canadian, in Zimbabwe because she was working on a special project through a group on Salt Spring called SOLID. They were due to have their first baby about a week ago.

He has worked with street youth and is the founder of a cultural center in Zimbabwe that is focused on sustainable development, cultural appreciation and celebration, and teaching and learning.

I've met him once before and he has the most peaceful energy but of course he has no certification related to community development and I can only imagine how challenging it is for him to try and carve out a life here, on this island although he does sometimes travel related to his music. It just seems like SFU's Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program or restorative justice which used to be offered through the Justice Institute of BC might be a good path.

He does do gigs as a musician and speaking and teaching and storytelling, and has a lot of knowledge about natural building practices such as the use of Cobb but it's a bit mind boggling to think of how challenging it must be to arrive in Canada from Africa, be on this little island and try to figure out how you're going to make it work.

As soon as he walked away from me the day before after hearing about his background I couldn't help but think that he would be the perfect candidate to do something like restorative justice work because he's worked with a lot of community groups doing a lot of exercises that typically take place in circles.

I thought about native culture and how traditionally there would be a lot of similarities between it and the African culture that is so dear to him and its ways steeped in tradition and storytelling and music.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to learn about him today and it felt good to help him out a little.

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