14 June 2023 – “What do we, human beings, have in common with a fish?”
A young teenage boy is taken aback by this question posed by his father. He looks at him and responds: “What do you mean? A fish is a fish, we are humans. Fish live in water, we don’t live in water. They lay eggs and we give birth to children. What do you mean? What do we have in common?”
His father replied: “You’re not listening to the question. I didn’t ask you what the difference was. I asked you: What do we have in common? Focus on that.”
The boy’s father is a black man from West Africa. His mother a white woman from Europe. They met during apartheid, a time when interracial relationships were not accepted. The boy is the result of a union between two people who chose to focus on commonalities instead of differences. This boy grew up to be Christopher Mbanefo who is strong believer and living proof of the power of coming together, regardless of what tries to keep us apart.
Mbanefo describes himself as a humble seeker of wisdom and peace. He is an entrepreneur and a highly qualified aerospace engineer and professional pilot. An innovator he combines more than 30 years in multi-discplinary activities and is the founder and CEO of YASAVA Solutions SA, an aviation design firm, and is the founder and CEO of OXÏ-ZEN Solutions LLC, which develops blockchain-based solutions that facilitate peer-to-peer CO2 transactions.
The 50 Percent had the opportunity to chat with him ahead of our upcoming intergenerational session – we are honored to share some of his snippets of wisdom.
ON HIS PROFESSIONAL JOURNEY AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PLANET
“Our planet is like a well-designed spaceship, and we humans face challenges similar to those faced by astronauts in space, where resources are limited and must be managed wisely. Just as engineers designing a spacecraft must consider sustainable solutions to support life onboard, we too must think about how to create a circular lifestyle that sustains our planet.
We humans should come together, combine our knowledge and expertise from various fields, and find solutions to ensure the survival of our dear spaceship called Earth. Everyone can contribute to this mission, regardless of their background or expertise, by understanding the interconnectedness of all living things and the importance of maintaining a balanced ecosystem. There is no alternative spaceship; we must preserve and protect our home.”
ON TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PLANET
“The power of technology lies in the intent behind its use, not the technology itself. As a tool, technology has the potential to positively benefit the entire planet. It is vital to recognise our interconnectedness with biodiversity rather than viewing ourselves as separate from it.
Unfortunately, some misuse technology for profit at the expense of others. We must question the true meaning of profit and reconsider the intent behind its pursuit. When technology is employed for the benefit of all, it becomes a meaningful and impactful solution.”
ON THE PRESERVATION OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE
“Indigenous wisdom transcends safeguarding biodiversity and restoration efforts, offering profound insights for all aspects of life. It resonates universally, from the Americas to Africa, Asia, and even within indigenous communities in Switzerland.
We need to speak to indigenous communities, listen, and respect what they have to say. Their knowledge is a treasure waiting to be fully explored. History reveals our past ignorance and embracing indigenous peoples’ wisdom can lead us towards a brighter future.”
ON INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY
“Despite the vastness of the universe, billions of galaxies, and countless stars, we find ourselves together on this planet at the same time—a remarkable miracle. Yet, instead of celebrating this shared experience, we often engage in conflicts and violence. It’s time to shift our consciousness and appreciate the extraordinary events that brought us together. By embracing our commonalities and working together, we can unlock our full potential and create something beautiful.”
A SPECIAL MESSAGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE
“Never see yourself as separate from your fellow human beings or the world around you. The African concept Ubuntu, meaning “I am because of you,” emphasises our interconnectedness. Just as a puppy raised among humans initially sees itself as human, it is through interaction with other dogs that it realises its true identity.
Similarly, as human beings, we discover our humanity through our connections with others. By recognising ourselves as part of the environment and embracing the consciousness of Ubuntu, we acknowledge that every manifestation of life reflects a part of ourselves. We can experience the uplifting awareness of Ubuntu by embracing our role as integral participants in the diverse tapestry of life.”
Christopher Mbenfo led the Intergenerational Session “Empowering our Custodians of Biodiversity” on 15 June 2023 hosted by The 50 Percent.