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Free-range Thoughts

Marinating in the Mooc

dreamingZindy Zone drawings


I went to a live play — with an African-American theme — attended by a mixed race audience. Half way through the play suddenly stops. Just like that: stops! I was very impatient and irritated. How rude to just stop the play. I felt that it was an insult to the theme and to the people it was about – African Americans.

The audience was left to complain amongst themselves. I told a few of the organizers that I thought it was quite thoughtless to do such a thing. They informed me that this was designed on purpose. It was supposed to stop midway and leave the audience hanging in the silence.

I eventually met the author of the play. She clarified her purpose: “There is more to our story than endlessly retelling and re-retelling our story in the context it has always been told. I left you hanging so you could find the “new”. I purposely disrupted the past.”


The alarm goes off  and I realize, now awake, that in my dream I had descended to the bottom of the “U” below anything that had happened in the past, below the base of the inverted hierarchy of power. It’s no accident that I was reading about this very thing in Leading From the Emerging Future just before going to sleep.


I lived in West Africa for three years during the early 1970s. During this time I recorded music and provided sound for a series of documentaries in Burkina Faso, distributed by African Family Films. Besides the cultural exposure I was also able to experience being a minority for a significant amount of time at a very formative period of my life (early twenties). This left me with a foundational view that life can be very different in a different culture/geography. What I experience at any moment in time from my culture and in my town is certainly not the only reality one can experience.

Life in the bush in the early 1970s was very much like life in the savannah 10,000 years ago. The only difference consisted of the addition of three technologies: bicycles, radios and gas lamps. Minus these technologies, I was experiencing village life as it has been for millennia, since the dawn of the agricultural revolution. Most striking about life in a West African village is the dignity with which people carry on with their everyday tasks. Some young boys are tempted to the big city, but they soon find that reality wearing and difficult.

These experiences have informed and enriched my experiences with African Americans because I have been able to see both cultures:  the un-traumatized Africans and the remnants of trauma experienced by African Americans due to slavery. Because of this, one of my chosen charities is the Southern Poverty Law Center.

** = Zindy Zone drawings:


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