Anesu Makufa serves as OEP's Youth & Young Adult Peace Formation Organizer and is a Zimbabwean Spoken Word Poet who seeks peace where he is present with an Ubuntu mindset. After completing his International Baccalaureate studies at the United World College of Southern Africa, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Business Management from Wheaton College, and a master's degree in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University. Currently based in the UK, Anesu is working on attaining a master's degree in Social Work, and Community development. He is a creative soul wandering the earth, experiencing it through poetry, painting, piano, and, most importantly, through people. Additionally, he plays the guitar, harmonica, and is fluent in 3 languages (Shona, English, and Meditation). In another life, he may have been a koala. He reflects on On Earth Peace's impact on his life during his internship.
Why are you drawn/applied to On Earth Peace?
I am drawn to OEP by its determination to organize for peace, its active role in seeking justice, and its engagement in constructive conversations on difficult topics. In our world today, Growing up in Zimbabwe, I was raised in a collectivist culture, with the philosophy of Ubuntu as a cornerstone of community. Ubuntu teaches you that "I am, because you are", that we become who we fully are by pouring active love into one another. When I joined OEP, this part of my soul resonated with the organization, its goals, and the people who worked to build community by broadening bridges instead of widening walls.
What are the favorite project/s that you worked on?
The Storyscape Spoken Word Salon series I have been able to create at OEP has undoubtedly been my favorite project to run during my time at OEP. With the vision to create a space that is inviting, inclusive, and intimate, I began the series leaning on my personal interest in the creative arts. As a Spoken Word Poet, I have witnessed first hand the power that storytelling can inspire in forging bonds that bring out the best in those who know to find strength in vulnerability, as well as growth in changed perspectives. These creative sessions have been deeply meditative, and I constantly find a way to reignite my passion for holding space that offers people the opportunity to use their voices in pursuing peace. Using Dr King's philosophy of nonviolent action towards peace, we explored each of the 6 principles of KNV through in depth discussions, collective storytelling, and creative writing. This allowed us to put the principles into practice in novel ways that left me feeling grounded and deeply connected at the end of every session. The series has continued biweekly, diving into various topics that include celebrating women and intersectionality, meditation, and the 5 love languages. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity by OEP to create a series so near and dear to my heart!
How has OEP affected your outlook/future aspirations?
My role as Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation Organizer has given me the confidence to seek out more spaces that can build community intentionally and internationally. With my bachelor's degree in Psychology and my master's in Education and Human Development, I had wanted to find ways to connect my academic side and my creative side in the work that I do, my time at OEP has been able to show me how this is possible. I have determined that my passion in working with youth and young adults is something I will continue to build upon, to actively build platforms that can encourage them to utilize their agency and harness the power that resides in each of them when they express their intentions towards a collective goal.
What would you like people to know about OEP and yourself?
One of my roles at OEP is to manage a Community Engagement Grant that has a lot of potential for amazing outcomes that I would like people to know about. The micro-grant is designed to help youth-led projects excel as they strive to build their community, uplift their society, and be the change they want to see. Topics within it can range from organizing a mural project, a rally for social justice, or a community conversation to build inclusivity in their area. Former projects have ranged from teaching children at an orphanage creative skills in constructing beautiful wearable art, to hosting conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools. Applications are still open, and those interested should fill out this form, or reach out to [email protected] for more information.