A Note From The Founder
kanju, Culture and Connection in the Era of COVID-19
These past weeks have been a daunting test to the human spirit. Now more than ever, as we find ourselves physically distant from one another, we can feel the deep, innate need we have for human connection. We are missing those we love, adventures we had planned, community celebrations and the milestone moments that mark our lives.
We as humans are social, emotional, creative, caring and curious. Our need to interact with each other and the greater world is very core to our being, so much so that in normal times we may even forget to conscientiously acknowledge it. As with many things so deeply a part of our lives and who we are, it isn’t until they are taken from us that we realize how much we truly need and miss them.
At kanju, our ethos, business model and mission has always been about connection—connecting people, markets, experiences, and cultures. The current feeling of disconnect tugs deeply on our souls. “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” is a Xhosa proverb which means, simply and profoundly: “we are who we are because of other people.” Taught to me by dear friend and artist Andile Dyalvane, the saying been a core and driving value of kanju since our beginning. No human experience or life exists in a vacuum. We are part of a vast web that cannot truly be separated.
I feel certain we will come away from this crisis stronger. As humans do, we have quickly found other ways of connecting to one another; using new technologies and with a new sense of time and distance, we are bridging the pandemic divide and even nurturing our relationships with more care. In an odd twist of irony, for perhaps the first time in human history, we are sharing this experience of loss and disconnect together with people on every continent in the world. That is an unprecedented, profound connection. Even in our relative isolation, we have rediscovered a new, global sense of solidarity and oneness with each other. I have no doubt that as we muddle our way through the COVID-19 crisis, we will cherish humanity, culture, knowledge, experience and exploration more than ever before.
At kanju, as we endured the past few weeks and the uncertainties they wrought, I have found strength in remembering exactly what this venture meant to me when it was still only an idea: kanju was and is about sharing stories, building bridges between markets and cultures, sharing creativity, and, above all, nurturing the collective adventure that is the human journey.
As we each navigate this crisis and find new ways of being “normal,” we at kanju are committed to connecting. We will be sharing stories, culture, news, and experiences with more passion and depth than we ever have before. Now more than ever, even if we are physically distanced from each other, we need shared stories, culture, human inspiration, wonder, imagination, and enrichment.
We are still here for you. And we are all still connected.
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.