Teacher don’t teach me non-sense. This is one of the demands Fela Kuti formulates in his now vastly appraised critiques of African societies. In the last months at Kabakoo, we have been working pretty hard, suffering and smiling, trying to find ways to get rid of that “Teacher don’t teach me non-sense”. I am not quite sure how the critical Fela would judge our work and activities. But I am sure he would have enjoyed the last Community Bio Summit at the MIT because he believed Nature is paramount to all. Myself, I was apprehending the gathering since my last biology class was way back during my high school’s years in Bafoussam. I was asking myself whether I could engage in any conversation in a room full of biologists. Sure I did meet biologists there. In all kinds and shapes. But most of all, I met a bunch of insane people. Insane folks just dreaming. Wild. It was wild!
Joi Ito’s keynote set the pace for a weekend rich of insights, questioning, and hope. “It‘s about the goals of the system” he said. By giving the powerful example of monopoly, he made clear how changing nothing but the goal can shift the whole narrative. In fact, who could believe today that monopoly was actually designed as a tool to warn people against the dangers of capitalism? The company which acquired the game from its inventor just changed the goal of the game and the rest is history. When playing monopoly now, we enjoy pushing our friends into bankruptcy. It’s the goal, stupid! So, do I build or destroy? Or do I build and destroy? Can I judge from now whether what I am doing today is building or destroying as seen from tomorrow?
Overall, I felt like there was a basso continuo reminding us of the importance of “original teachings” as put by LaDonna Brave Bull Allard from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. We maybe have come to think that we own nature rather than belonging to it. Blame the positivist paradigm. Maybe. I don’t quite know. Joi Ito also reminded us about the Ise Jingu grand shrine in Japan which is destroyed and rebuilt every twenty years. Before felling any of the trees needed for the new temple, the artisans will, abiding by specific rituals, pay respect to Nature. Pay respect to Mother Nature, never take it for granted. This is exactly what I learned in my childhood. When hiking even today, I still express any random stone my gratitude before sitting on it. Weirdo. At any rate, the tenor of the event resonates so much with the view of the world I myself was socialized into. But which I learned to despise so well, to look down upon as barbarian, primitive, retrograde, not modern. The magnificence of internalized oppression. I am just slowly recovering. My people are just slowly recovering. Please be patient with us. And also vibe with us for our recovery to be fully effective before the next great relapse. So that we can reach altogether a new era of infinite revival. Grateful I am therefore for the opportunity I had to discuss the issue not only with fellow people struggling with the same pain but also with open-minded folks just being sensitive to injustice.
The history of our species is an history of technology. We have always been doing things, hacking Nature, pushing the boundaries of the now, inventing and executing the futures. This is what defines our species. Making, dreaming, hacking, sequencing, tinkering, yes. But again, what’s the goal? Easy. It‘s about changing the world. Sure. This sounds pathetic. Okay. But most of the people I met last weekend do not only say it. They mean it. And they don’t only mean it. They actually do it! And I feel confident that I have found some high-fly companions in our common struggle for social emancipation.
I would like to thank. No. I have to. I have to thank all the folks I crossed path with in the Mitochontrians, the Rhybosome, the Lysosomes, and the Golgi Complex. I do hope to see you again soon. In the mean time, let’s go back to the grind and do it the B.(io) way: Spread Love. Because Love is all the kids want. Because Love it’s all what we have got.
The current version of the Statement of Shared Purpose for the global community bio movement, co-created by all the participants!