Clarissa Hughes

Freewheeling Festival

Billed as an annual celebration of conscious living and community, the programme was portentous of the eclectic mix of people that the festival drew.

Freewheeling 2009

The topic that initially attracted me to the festival was “African Wisdom”, which embraced the complexity of African thinking. Traditionally, Africans live close to Nature and understand that peoples’ law is subject to natural law. It is only recently (in historical terms) that the tribal initiate’s sense of responsibility to the environment has abdicated to the impersonal concept of government, and this is where things have gone awry. In light of the excesses of the West it is uplifting to learn that answers to our current problems are innate to this wonderful continent. It will take open minds and consciousness to rekindle them; not necessarily in their previous forms but in new, creative ways, appropriate to modern conditions.  

And there were plenty other interesting sessions too. With the choice of around 40 different themes it was sometimes hard to choose which ones to attend. Some dealt with lean business models in manufacturing industries, others with energy efficiency, holistic land management and climate change. Yet others embraced creativity, in writing, storytelling, dance and music. Education, money and motherhood were all tackled; as was conscious aging, Native American spirituality and that characteristically Western concept called “drive”.

A selection of laidback entertainment by highly talented artists and a good dose of sheer, unadulterated fun rounded out the weekend.

During the course of the last day I witnessed tears welling up in the eyes of many and it took a bit of reflection to figure out what this could signify.

The pervasive atmosphere of the weekend was one of acceptance without judgment.  In a country where the psychological scars of a divided society are noticeable, I think this is what touched those sensitive souls.  But there was more to it than that. The awareness of differentiation and discrimination, an unbelonging, relates to the natural environment too. This embracing and tolerant mood, and its ability to heal, couldn’t have been better epitomised than by the performances of the Balu Nivison Dance Group and their Stories of Hope and Courage. Deeply moving.

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