OUR STORY

What?

At the Vuka Institute, a workshop and retreat centre in the Maluti foothills of the eastern Free State, we view awakening as a political act. Our founders are renowned activists, movement leaders and writers. We are located in Eagle Valley, a place that’s been revered by healers and seers for millennia, and we look beyond dogma to where indigenous wisdom and progressive science meet. Our purpose is to explore and understand what it means to be human, and to seek alternative solutions to our shared environmental, economic and social crises.

Why?

Now is the time for a return to essence; a time to be guided by inspiration, wonder and truth. At the Vuka Institute, we believe that policy and commerce need not be self-serving or divisive. We subscribe to the teachings of neuroscience, contemplative studies, depth psychology and the ancient wisdom traditions, which demonstrate that humanity is hardwired to resonate at the frequencies of compassion, tolerance and freedom.

How?

The Vuka Institute takes the view that only the individual is the captain of her ship, the master of his fate. We do not preach or convert, nor do we insist on any specific cosmology or devotional practice. Our value is measured by the experiential power of our workshops and retreats, by the extent to which we are able to facilitate deep and lasting change. We operate as part of the Angamma Trust, a non-profit public benefit organisation, and our programme is of direct benefit to the local community whose land and resources we share.



OUR PEOPLE

Co-founders
Kevin Bloom is a writer and journalist. He is the co-author of Continental Shift: A Journey into Africa’s Changing Fortunes, a seven-year, eighteen country investigation into the forces shaping Africa in the 21st century. His first book, Ways of Staying, won the 2010 South African Literary Award for literary journalism. Kevin is an Honorary Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa. His writing has taken him to many of the world’s conflict zones, where he has witnessed the devastation caused by rent-seeking politicians, callous multinationals, desperate warlords and misguided NGOs. As programme director of the Vuka Institute, he brings this experience to bear on the search for inward-focused responses to our most urgent collective crises. For more, visit www.continentalshift.co.za
Kumi Naidoo is the secretary general-elect of Amnesty International, the largest human rights movement in the world. He will take up this appointment in August 2018. His previous leadership roles have included executive director of Greenpeace International, chair of the Global Call for Climate Action, founding chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, and secretary general and CEO of CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation. He currently chairs three start-up organisations in his home country South Africa: Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity; the Campaign for a Just Energy Future; and the Global Climate Finance Campaign. Naidoo holds a DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford. At the Vuka Institute, he heads up the Dialogue Centre for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. For more, visit www.amnesty.org
Lucie Pagé is a writer and journalist sharing her life between Canada and South Africa. After Nelson Mandela’s release, she became a reporter based in South Africa for Québécois media. Lucie is also a filmmaker, and has won prizes for her documentaries on the role of freedom songs in the liberation of South Africa, on South Africa’s health situation, and on rape and violence against women in the country. She has written seven books, including a memoir of her time as a journalist during South Africa’s political transition, plus various fiction and non-fiction works that have established her reputation as one of the leading voices in French-speaking Canada. She is married to Jay Naidoo, former minister in Nelson Mandela’s cabinet. She has three children. For more, visit www.luciepage.com
Louisa Zondo is an advocate with an LLM from the London School of Economics, an LLB and a BProc. Her career spans community service through human rights, social justice and development organisations, including the National Education Crisis Forum, the Constitutional Assembly, the Human Rights Commission, and the Public Protector. She has performed regulatory roles at the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO in Vienna and the National Nuclear Regulator, as well as corporate roles at South African Airways and Sasol. She is an Oxfam South Africa non-executive director. Louisa completed the Living School programme at the Centre for Action and Contemplation, New Mexico, where she awakened to “love as the fundamental principle of life”. For more, visit https://cac.org
Patron
Jay Naidoo is a social and political activist with over four decades of organising experience in student politics, communities, and the workers’ movement. He was the founding general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and coordinated the Reconstruction and Development Programme as a minister in President Nelson Mandela’s cabinet. He entered business after stepping down from government in 1999, and served as chairman of the Development Bank of Southern Africa until 2010, when he returned to full-time voluntary work. Jay also served as the chairman of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition for more than a decade, and is currently a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which focuses on promoting leadership and good governance in Africa. He is a trustee of the Earthrise Trust, a rural development initiative in Eagle Valley in the eastern Free State.  According to Jay: “The central questions that humanity has to grapple with in the face of multiple crises threatening the birthrights of future generations are, what does it mean to be human, and, what is our purpose?” For more, visit https://jaynaidoo.org