African Folktales Project
Wakanyi’s childhood was spent in an indigenous forest on the edge of the famed Ngong Hills on the outskirts of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. That experience of interacting with the natural world on a daily basis shaped her unique perspective of what it means to be human and to flourish alongside other life forms. She is a self-proclaimed nomad, and uses the term ‘independent world citizen’ to define her experience living in 7 countries on 3 continents. She is a mother to four children of mixed heritage aged between 9 and 17 years old. Alongside her husband she continually demonstrates the practice of inner wisdom seeking to help their children understand and embody the positive aspects of their cross-cultural identity. Two of the children are now exploring their education in Japan while the rest of the family is based in the Netherlands. For a family that is spread out in different physical locations, contentment is a word that resonates with their way of life and helps strengthen the invisible string that ties them together virtually.
As a professional storyteller and indigenous knowledge researcher specialised in Ubuntu philosophy, Wakanyi teaches children from K-12 ways of tapping into their inner wisdom through stories that were passed down to her by the grandmothers that raised her. She has collected many folktales from African wisdom keepers and has designed a unique curriculum that introduces the concepts of sustainable development using storytelling as the pedagogical approach to learning about Ubuntu. She credits the Ubuntu philosophy and the African art of oral storytelling as the practices that help her make meaningful connections with other cultures at the basic human level. Wakanyi is a bridge between ancient African knowledge and the modern world. She believes that every child is a member of the human family and that we each have the potential to become high functioning human beings through our shared humanity, which is the essence of Ubuntu practice. Wakanyi is on a mission to help children and educators find their inner voices to promote individual well-being that will ultimately amplify collective human flourishing. As a sought-after educator of the African indigenous knowledge system, she brings to The Contentment Foundation a wealth of knowledge about inner well-being as exemplified by the oldest living cultures.
In other capacities, Wakanyi is the founder of the African Folktales Project and a co-founder of Humanity Link. She sits on the board of The Kenya Education Fund and is a member of the circle of advisors at Seeds of Wisdom. She recently became a research fellow at The New Institute at the Walburg Ensemble in Hamburg and will be splitting her time between Germany and the family home in The Netherlands. When she’s not contemplating ways of solving complex human problems, she travels, often accompanied by her children as an opportunity to practice the art of inner wisdom seeking and knowledge sharing. In her spare time, she likes to plant trees, cook and socialize with their neighbours, take long walks in forests and volunteer for ServiceSpace where she sometimes sings to a large zoom audience.