“How I came to ENTABENI” by Lucky

  • written by Lucky Kekana
  • November 17, 2020
  • 1 Comment

Our project had it’s genesis back in 2006 when I attended a Vipassana Meditation course (Dhamma Pataka). It was there I met Ole, Vipassana teacher and co-founder of Khula Dhamma Eco-Village at Eastern Cape, who was looking for like-minded people to pioneer and co-create and intentional sustainable community.

With the intention of creating a better living environment for my children, in 2008 I moved out of the city to join Ole in building and living in the Eco Village. My experience there was eye opening and served to raise my awareness and overall understanding of the importance and benefits of creating models for sustainable and holistic living. It was then and there I saw first hand what was possible when people unite, come together and work towards a common goal. And I became a witness to how this work was changing lives for the better, my own included. 

Along the way, I have learned many things from every facet of the work and my experience with it and the various people involved. Community members introduced me to the principles of permaculture and organic food growing as well as bee keeping practices. The Xhosa Bantu people taught me how to build homes and structures from natural materials like stone, mud and thatch. Together  with community we built dam and installed water tanks on the land to store and have enough water supply throughout the year. I learned about waste management, how to reuse and recycle different materials, build composting toilets, natural water heaters and such. I came to recognise and value each family’s contribution of their own personal gifts, skills and time in homeschooling all the community’s children. 

In 2009 I also went to a permaculture conference in Malawi, Africa and in 2010 I attended a permaculture design course in Istanbul, Turkey (http://permacultureturkey.org) with Bill Mollison and Jeof Lowton. 

Working within a community has taught me the value and Spirit of exchange. I witnessed community members trading and sharing their breads, tea bags made of herbs, jewellery made of beads, homemade soaps and various other goods. Together men and women built and created the structures which were used for community purposes like meditation sessions, yoga classes, homeschooling projects, different events like meetings, conferences, weddings etc. I personally found I very much enjoyed building and improving the traditional design of the structures and making them more comfortable and suitable for modern day living. As community members we often came together to watch educational documentaries, play music by the fire and enjoy the fruits of our labor in various ways. In the process of learning new skills and co-creating with others a more abundant, healthy and balanced lifestyle for us all, I grew more and more eager and felt empowered to share this knowledge with my people.

In 2010, I discovered GEN – Global Eco-Village Network. GEN offers the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) curriculum which covers four dimensions of sustainability: Worldview, Social, Ecological and Economical. It was first developed and offered in several eco villages in Europe (among them Findhorn and Crystal Waters) and it is a result of the work of experienced eco village educators. The EDE curriculum offers a wide range of practical application and innovation materials, ideas and tools that have been developed and tested in eco village communities and urban transition settings world wide. When I partnered with GEN Europe I learned all about eco-village principles and successful development and implementations of sustainable ways of living. I completed my EDE course in Orissa, India and participated in organising and facilitating the EDE courses in South Africa and annual international GEN conferences in other parts of Africa as in Egypt, Kenya and Senegal. Based on my former wife’s and my inspiration and desire to see positive changes in African people’s lives, we created GEN Africa to create platform to collaborate, share and support each other and interchange with the broader world.

Moringa is considered one of the superfoods of Africa and there is growing domestic and international demand for the nutritional value of the whole tree. By cultivating and producing the tree foliage and seeds, Moringa can create employment for the small scale farmers and support them in their livelihoods as well as serve as a solution for the malnutrition and poverty which prevails in many rural areas, thus improving people’s health and wellbeing by adding nutrition to their staple diets. 

By the end of 2011, having been so inspired by all I have had learned, my former wife and I went to her  country of origin – Congo and together we were able to achieve our goals due to support from Lush Cosmetics opened an educational centre called Mama Na Bana where we taught permaculture principles and food sovereignty to the people of Kinshasa.

When I returned back to South Africa I organised, co-ordinated and facilitated an EDE course in Cape Town as well as a EDE Women’s Course in Umphakatse Eco-Village in Mpumalanga. It was here in Umphakatse, that I was first introduced to the rural Mpumalanga area. Thereafter, I went to Ghana and visited the Permaculture Institute, learning still more and in particular about Moringa production and at the Women’s Co-op, where I also learned about Shea butter production.

When I arrived back in Congo in 2013, we were able to raise funds and purchase land for the Butwa Pygmies indigenous people who were displaced from their natural habitat and used as slaves. Butwa Pygmies are unprivileged Congolese hunter-gatherer forest people who are loosing their home to corporate companies who are now conserving the forests as natural parks while mining natural resources and banning the people out of their home in the forest. All together, we implemented community development programs based on permaculture principles and EDE Education and natural building skills to empower and support the Pygmies in their survival for new ways of living. 

In Dec 2014, I traveled to Peru to learn about healing plant medicine. It was there I first experienced the medicine of the mother of all plants called Ayahuasca. This plant is used traditionally by the indigenous people of South America (in Peru by Shipibo Shamans) to facilitate healing and spiritual transformation. This plant is known for it’s physiological affects which integrate emotion and conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious processes. This sacred plant (“the vine of the ancestors”) can identify and illness’s origin, restore soul loss, extract pathogenic objects, give artistic inspiration and guidance on the life path and in general is used as an instrument to gain access to information coming from unseen realms, as well as from the social and natural environment.  

In the Ayahuasca ceremony my ancestors showed me my life partner Katunka. I was given a strong vision that guided me specifically to fully embrace the path of service. By then I was actually already on this path, but not full time, just a few months out of the year while I was still working as head of logistics for NBA South Africa. After only a few ceremonies, it became very clear to me that my future would unfold on the route I would choose and fully embrace. Upon meeting Katunka I began engaging with her about the history of my people, about their different tribes, culture and their common struggle. I shared with her what I had done in Africa up to that point and my vision to create an educational centre that would focus on sustainability, nature restoration, preservation of the indigenous cultures and spirituality and wellness here in South Africa. Katunka then shared with me her dream to create a healing centre which would combine both the traditional shamanic plant medicine methods with modern and Eastern integrative practices and the creative arts. We immediately felt our connection and saw the possibility of creating together an educational and healing centre here in South Africa. 

When I returned to South Africa in 2015, I went camping for 2 weeks by the Komati river in Mpumalanga. I felt a strong connection with the land and the water and knew that my work would be here. I therefore went about the work of acquiring the land from the Local Tribal Authorities with the help of my partner Katunka who came from overseas in 2016 so we could live and work full time together. 

Katunka and I are so grateful for all we have learned from each other and already accomplished together to date. We look forward to and are as excited as ever about the great work to come that remains ahead of us.

1 thought on “How I came to ENTABENI”

  1. Evelyne 🙏🏾💕💕💕Reply

ENTABENI Eco Village 2021






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