Dr. Bayo Akomolafe is an academic lecturer, a spiritual leader, a disillusioned activist, and the author of These Wilds Beyond Our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity's Search for Home.
He was born in 1983 into a Christian home, and to Yoruba parents in western Nigeria. Soon after he was born, his family emigrated to Bonn, Germany with his father on his first diplomatic assignment. This, Bayo's first trip, would foreshadow a life of travel, both literally and figuratively. He currently lectures at Pacifica Graduate Institute, California and University of Vermont.
He's also Professor of Practice at Middlebury College. He sits on the board of many organizations including Science and Nonduality, Unashay Sanctuary, and more.
Now living between India and the United States, Bayo is a proud father and a devoted husband.
In this conversation we talk about:
- Growing up in transition, Nigeria to Germany, and then many other places.
- Family being a constant value in his life.
- His love-hate relationship with India.
- His activism and his postactivism, and what does it mean to be a postactivist or to be postactivistic? And specifically, what it means to discover as an activist that your very activism has become part of the problem you're trying to solve.
- What does it mean to engage with the world without trying to apply your prejudices on it?
- Hope, and why it too can be problematic.
- How he sees the world, and how he tries to not get trapped by images and words, to experience a world that's alive and not static and dead. And to avoid overly defining things and overly restricting our view of the world through that definition.
I talked to Bayo at the end of January, and it was right after a Design Sprint with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie (a former guest of the podcast), where Bayo's work and his online course was one of the demos that we looked at as an example.
I'm very excited to bring you this conversation with Bayo, and I was very excited to talk to him. His writing is intensely beautiful. He speaks and seems to think in poetry. His words paint pictures that move us, but avoid being captured. I think Bayo is an awakened person. He clearly sees things in a way that's deeper and that's hard to comprehend sometimes. But his efforts at clarity and communication are very obvious and evident here, and I think it will be appreciated. I'm a little bit worried that people who don't really have any strong spiritual background might find some of these topics hard to understand or relate to. So I want to leave you with this recommendation.
I would like you to imagine the world as a dynamic, elaborate, interdependent, ever-changing and shifting, an intensely alive cloud of interactions, where nothing is quite as solid or as clear-cut as it seems to be. Now, imagine seeing this mess so clearly you can feel it in your being, and then having to find the words to describe it, knowing full well that every word and sentence leaves out as much as it brings in. And so, as you listen to Bayo with words, I would like you to try to understand that he's trying to communicate something that's intensely nonverbal. That's at least how I connect with it and how I find my way into it.
This is one of a dozen or so weekly conversations we already have lined up for you with thinkers, designers, makers, authors, entrepreneurs, and activists, who are working to change our world for the better. So please follow this podcast on your favorite podcast app or head over to RemakePod.org to subscribe.
And now let's jump right in with Dr. Bayo Akomolafe.
[6:35] Life During Covid
[14:51] Early Childhood's Silent Lessons
[17:28] A Mode of Transit
[19:15] A Love-Hate Relationship with India
[24:11] Activism vs Postactivism
[29:20] Enacting Reality
[33:46] Invisible Forces at Work
[39:10] Thinking Happens in the Farm
[43:53] The End of Hope
[53:06] Name the Color, Blind the Eye
[58:50] The Gift of Children
[1:03:49] A Short Sermon
- Bayo's Links
- Other Links
- 🎧 Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie Interview
- 🎧 Christian Madsbjerg Interview
- 📕 Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg
- 🎧 David Peter Stroh Interview
- 📕 Systems Thinking For Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results by David Peter Stroh
- 🎧 Dr. Angel Acosta Interview
- 📕 The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist
- 📕 Cruel Optimism by Lauren Berlant
- 📕 The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- 🎤 TED Talk - Alain de Botton
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