Exploring life in Africa – and in the world. A conversation with Hannelie Venucia

Heidi writes

Africa is far away in our European minds. We don’t really care a lot about what is going on there. We love their wild animals, see them in pictures, videos, zoos and maybe in national parks and we have all sorts of naive cliche Ideas about the people who live there: they live in poverty, they are are somehow primitive and we are called to send them developmental help. Aren’t we great?
There are stories from billions buried in the sand, literally, because we believed to know what they need. We send them “help” based on our own ideas without knowing and considering the local perspectives. And we are convinced that we must teach them how to live in the world: in stone houses and huge cities, dressed in western clothes and buying and consuming what we export to them while still exploiting the richness of the country for our own benefit. We have given up to dominate Africa by means of colonisation by invading armies, today the colonisation takes place by exporting our ways of looking at the world, our life styles and our ways of thinking.

The lack of respect towards others, to the world itself, has brought us to the present crisis. The overvaluation of material goods and strategic thinking, the masculine way of being in the world, is still so dominant everywhere, so that people can hardly even imagine that there could be a different way of approaching life. We need to balance with the feminine way, to allow unfolding, uncertainty and creativity. We need to abandon our strategic thinking and the belief to be able to reach the goals in a linear way, based on our present knowledge. We need to acknowledge our basic ignorance and restrict ourselves to facilitating the processes through which the living systems are evolving. Our interference in self-organising systems, even in good will, is probably causing more damage than good. Becoming more humble and giving respect to life and all beings is the only way we actively can contribute to a positive change in the world.

We have done a lot of damage with our “good will” to “civilise” Africa. We didn’t respect the people as human beings, we exploited them believing in their inferiority. They are still carrying these wounds from the past which need healing – and we better get aware how much we are still living in a colonial mindset in the western world, if we are aware of it or not. We need shadow work, individually and collectively, in order to create a world worth living in!

Theories like “Spiral Dynamics” do a great job in explaining the stages of development in humans. Unfortunately these levels are often considered in terms of “good” and “better”, and so naming the colors of Spiral Dynamics to refer to the levels, as we do in the interview, can easily misunderstood that way. Our western mindset is so used to hierarchical thinking and in equating the positions in the hierarchy with power, so that we need to be very careful and observe ourselves and our biases for not continuing the damage created before.

What can we learn from people and societies which we believed to be inferior to us? First of all: we need to ask ourselves this very question. As so far we thought there is not really anything these countries can offer to us, except precious resources, minerals, gold, diamonds, etc. Also bananas and colorful fairy tales about strange foreign countries to tell our children. By visiting these countries, not the tourist places, but areas where normal life is going on, we have the chance to realise that happiness doesn’t depend on money and material goods; that we are pressing a lifestyle on others who don’t want it, originally, but our seductive way of making them believe into the western values, in fact, is destroying their ability and desire to live in harmony with nature. They could, instead, lead us to regain connectedness and respect of mother earth – badly needed in our present transition time.

My conversation with Hannelie is naming all these problems and perspectives. There is awareness and insight in what attitude is needed to be developed in ourselves and what ways could bring us to the goal of understanding, peaceful coexistence and real progress, in human terms, not prevelantly in economical interests. The exchange was very inspiring and evokes confidence in our human ability to deal with challenges – when addressed in an open, curious and humble way, allowing the solutions to arise by becoming ever more aware of what needs to be given up and transformed in ourselves and in our surroundings to enable the unfolding of organic processes of healing and growing.

Videopost for April 15th, 2020


0:00 Intro Heidi

1:20 Hannelie talks about her experience all over the world, coming back to her work and knowledge and experience in Africa.  

4:35 Experience in women’s empowerment: disconnect also there, fighting spirit

5:20 Using Spiral Dynamics for understanding what is going on. 

6:30 An experience around SD: Leadership in purple of one of the most creative tech company!

7:50 Heidi refers to her talk with Rene de Beer. Hannelie: this is a dilemma: if leadership is in lower level than people in the organisation.

9:20 The country is still stuck in the past! CAnnot move foreward this way. 

10:25 An example: dignity had been taken away in the past, still real struggle, which gave them purpose. So they don’t take opportunities NOW. – paralles to individual personal development when you are not respected, it has impact on the whole life.

12:30 You first have to work on the inside and heal wound of not having been respected. As human beings.

14:10 Is there a change in the mindset?

15:05 Huge braindrain from Africa. People try to be recognized somewhere else. In the country: Hannelie tries to get leaders through the experiences to open their minds to different perspectives.

17:50 You need to really experience another country: Heidi’s experience. Unintentional arrogance of the Westerners. Preconceived ideas and fears. Fealing of guilt, collectively and felt personally.

20:30 How do you live as a white person in a country? Hannelie talks about her childhood: she lived quite removed but found something wrong in the picture she was given. A projected guilt. Peers brainwashed and lived in trauma after the change. Projected shame, also complain and blame doesn’t really help! The result is becoming very resourceful and to empower others. Different ways of dealing with the topic. Rippling effect is happening, also thanks to technology which allows people to open up to othef perspectives.

26:40 In Spain/Catalonia she experienced a much worse situation than in her country! Separation instead of coming together. It is NOT ABOUT RACE!

28:50 Hannelie about an experience and insight in  Zambia, trying to sell something to the government. Her exploration of the country on her own to understand the people. Very very poor people, but she realised that they were HAPPY! hey can TEACH US  something about LIFE.

31:35 Hannelie referring to Loraine Laubscher: “what makes you think you are better than this?” Coming back down to earth! A challenge to our western mindset.

33:10 Example of a summit with leaders where she led workshops. They were very open and the  result:: they affirmed that they have realised the need to change their mindset and what they need to do in their organisations.

36:10 Heidi refers to the IAC the talks about the impact of colonialism: The world is THOUGHT to be a thing to exploit. The need for the “left hand quadrants” = interiority. We need a balance to resolve our problems. Heidi realised how much she was conditioned in thinking before: Our kids should go into these countries and realise how reality is and do something instead of only protesting. Reality check.

39:15 Hannelie in South Africa: Protests do not help, no strikes either. No solutions attached, and people need to understand their part of it – it didn’t have any impact on politics, no change, only chaos. Solution: have people experience things themselves, not just as a thought experiement, but in real direct experience, integrated learning process.

42:00  resolving the energy problem will not resolve THE PROBLEM. We need shadow work and how we approach the world from our inside motivations/conditionings.

43:05 Heidi on the situation of women as example of under-valuing in the “right” way. “Change comes from the inside out”

44:05 Hannelie on the good sides of the present state of the world. Things can improve. We are in transition. We are pushed into change.

46:00 A possibility outlined by Hannelie. e=mc2 transferred to the power of our minds. The butterfly effect. Not everyone must engage into the change,

48:10 No plan with where exactly to go: we need the feminine way of doing: embracing what arises, we need to recognise that we deal with systems which collaps when you interfer onesidedly and bring it out of balance. Unfolding can be facilitated, but not directed.

50:00 Bringing it back to BEINGNESS! H: many men cannot even understand “unfolding” as oppose to “doing”. Hannelies example how to convey the difference. No FIXING! But staying with the Not Known.

51:20 Hannelie: what do you think to believe to want to “Save Africa”: going inside changes everything, realisation of UNFOLDIN

52:25 Heidi: the Corona Virus can be an admonition to give up the idea of security and of omnipotence. Fear of death is creating panic and invites death by reactions (like wars etc.)

54:00 Book about leadership of an African man: a picture of a workshop he invited leaders in where Hannelie held the space as process observer. He challenged the people and made them realise the futility of their possesiions and ideas of safety. They were shocked, never had realised this reality. YOur bank balance doesn’t make you important. Coming back to being human.

57:10 Most people do not know what they are doing and believing. We need to find a way to tell them and open the eyes.

58:15 Han: experience with short workshop in SA “lead with purpose”. Playing with architypes. Their feedback: Han is doing to raise their leadership awareness, discover their way of seeing the world which nowhere else they can lead. It is not taught in academies. They teach only HOW. The waking up is spreading: leading from the heart. SOme participants brought it into their organisations.



About Hannelie Venucia

With a passion for human and organizational potential, Hannelie Venucia loves to create and share embodied experiences that reminds humans of their greatness and genius, and that expand their perspectives. She is the  founder of The Inspiration Gap – a Leadership and Creative Innovation Consultancy, the founder and creator of the Joy Generation – an Online Wisdom and Discovery Portal, the co-founder of The Creativity Gap – a Creativity Consultancy, and the co-founder of The Sensemaking Gap – Sensemaking Lifestyle Incubator in Switzerland. Hannelie started her career in Human Resources, and has 28 years of Management, Change Management, Creative Innovation, Business, IT, HR, Leadership, and Strategy Consulting experience, across 4 continents.

A seasoned international public speaker, gifted workshop creator, embodied change facilitator, author, poet, narrator, visionary, creative innovation strategist, embodied sensemaker and philosopher, worldpainter, intuitive, mentor, human whisperer, podcaster, radio host, and global authority on Creative, Receptive, Embodied, and Generative Leadership, Collective Sensemaking, Creative Innovation, and Expanded Perception Hannelie created and facilitated pioneering events, workshops, programs, and shared talks in countries such as Japan, Spain, UK, Romania, Malaysia, Turkey, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, and Southern Africa. Her Leadership, Innovation, and Women Empowerment Online Radio Shows inspired thousands of leaders, women, and entrepreneurs to think differently. Her paper, ‘Embodiment – the missing link in Creative Innovation’, has been published in the International Journal for Innovation in Management in 2017. She will be presenting her papers ‘From chaos and change to fulfillment and impact -Sensemaking – A novel approach to Business Strategy, Execution and Innovation’ and ‘How Technology enables Sensemaking in the 4th Industrial Revolution’ in 2020/2021.