Lean Into the Counter Intuitive with Bayo Akomolafe
The illusion of separation feels very real and painful as we experience escalating tensions around the world. Perpetual global crises move us into response with the same patterns we have always embodied. But what if the way we respond to crisis is part of the crisis? What are we missing in our well-established practices of change-making? What do we fail to see in our conventional efforts to enact a ‘better’ world? And what if we don’t even know how to ask the right questions yet? Join us for a riveting conversation with the author of the popular blog post, “The Surprising Nobility of S#*!: A Serious Response to President Donald Trump’s ‘S#*!hole’ Remarks about African Immigrants,” Bayo Akomolafe.
Bayo Akomolafe (Ph.D.) considers his most sacred work to be learning how to be with his daughter and son, Alethea Aanya and Kyah Jayden – and their mother, his wife and “life-nectar”, Ijeoma. “To learn the importance of insignificance” is the way he frames a desire to reacquaint himself with a world that is irretrievably entangled, preposterously alive and completely partial. Bayo was born in 1983 into a Christian home, and to Yoruba parents in western Nigeria. Losing his diplomat father to a sudden heart complication, Bayo became a reclusive teenager, seeking to get to the “heart of the matter” as a response to his painful loss. He sought to apply himself to the extremes of his social conditioning, his faith, and his eventual training as a clinical psychologist – only to find that something else beyond articulation was tugging at his sleeves, wanting to be noticed. After meeting with traditional healers as part of his quest to understand trauma, mental wellbeing and healing in new ways, his deep questions and concerns for decolonized landscapes congealed into a life devoted to exploring the nuances of a “magical” world “too promiscuous to fit neatly into our fondest notions of it.” A lecturer, speaker, and proud diaper-changer, Bayo curates an earth-wide project for the re-calibration of our ability to respond to civilizational crisis – a project framed within a feminist ethos and inspired by indigenous cosmologies. He considers this a shared art – exploring the edges of the intelligible, dancing with posthumanist ideas, dabbling in the mysteries of quantum mechanics and the liberating sermon of an ecofeminism text, and talking with others about how to host a festival of radical silence on a street in London – and part of his inner struggle to regain a sense of rootedness to his community. In short, Bayo has given up his longing for the “end-time” and is learning to live in the “mean time”. In the middle, where we must live with confusion and make do with partial answers. His greatest vocation is however learning to be a satellite orbiting his greatest gift, his goddess Ijeoma, and knowing the blessings of her gravity. He speaks and teaches about his experiences around the world, and then returns to his adopted home in Chennai, India – “where the occasional whiff of cow dung dancing in the air is another invitation to explore the vitality of a world that is never still and always surprising.”