Afrocks Amazing Client – Shaka, Yoga Teacher And Political Activist: “To tackle inequality, we have to directly tackle the root causes of inequality – greed, capitalism, lack of democracy and wealth distribution.”
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Hi Shaka, can you briefly introduce yourself?
Hello! I’m Shaka and I’m a yoga teacher and yoga philosophy teacher. Additionally, I’m a holistic therapist, activist, public speaker and occasionally, I also write and perform songs.
You are a Green Party candidate for Brent – How did you first get involved in politics? Why did you decide to join the Greens?
I’ve been politically minded for a long time but never really imagined I would get involved in front-line politics. However, I joined the Green Party when I realised that my passion for both the environment and social justice is essentially within the DNA of the Green Party. It’s the only party I have ever felt I could be proud to represent and promote the ideals of.
When did you decide to run for parliament?
When there was a snap election in 2017 I offered to help out and hand out leaflets etc and then ended up standing for parliament! It’s been a little bit of a baptism of fire and I’m learning as go along. Really, my motivation is to facilitate change rather than having a career in politics. I work at the personal level (in holism and with my teaching) and at a social level through my involvement in politics. My wish would be for these two seemingly separate domains to become ever closer and aligned.
You were born and raised in London, a central hub for finance and capitalism. How can we tackle inequality in such a place?
To tackle inequality, we have to directly tackle the root causes of inequality – greed, capitalism, lack of democracy and wealth distribution. Tackling greed means to attack the acceptability and respectability of billionaires and the accumulation and siphoning away of wealth to that degree. The idea that this can ever be ‘self-made’ is laughable when it is predominantly accumulated and maintained through exploitation of labour, generational wealth, debt markets, private property laws and extraction of finite material resources that belong to all of us. Attacking the respectability of greed means to challenge the idea of separation itself. If we are all interconnected and interdependent, which we are, then this is wealth that is wrongly being diverted away from the collective and away from the ability of the collective to shape positive, social change for the good of all.
“Capitalism itself is the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. No doubt, it has been a vehicle for many great and wonderful things but also a source of untold misery for an underclass that it is built upon.”
Do you have any specific applicable policies that could be enforced?
There are many wealth distribution policies that I support – end of austerity, UBI (Universal Basic Income), fair taxation, land value tax, more public and cooperative spaces/businesses/housing and a release of funding for localities to decide how to spend for the good of their communities.
What is your take on capitalism?
Capitalism itself is the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. No doubt, it has been a vehicle for many great and wonderful things but also a source of untold misery for an underclass that it is built upon. It is on a direct collision course with the environment and the sooner we wake up to that the sooner we can usher in alternatives.
How can we the politics earn back our trust in this country?
Democracy in this country is an illusion. I fully advocate for PR (proportional representation) and a complete overhaul of Westminster-based, archaic concepts of political rule. We need to rethink the whole thing, develop a new constitution and build a political system fit for the future.
“We cannot buy our way ‘ethically’ out of this. Individual (consumer) choices will not change anything significantly, although I recommend you do what you can as it helps. We need a complete rethink and overhaul of our current social, political and economic system to evolve.”
Climate change is the biggest issue we will have to face. How do you bring this up without it being depressive? And what can we do about it?
All the stories of doom and gloom are not great motivators and sometimes, even I’m frustrated with how environmentalists publically address this issue. We are facing one of the biggest challenges of our time and what we need is a collective, post-war effort. We need to be kinder, more in-tune with nature, use less, buy less, recycle more, stop using toxic chemicals in the environment, change diet, have new transport systems, be carbon neutral, be more compassionate and stop using GDP as a means for judging collective wellbeing.
What is preventing us from actually doing something then?
The things that are standing in our way are our corrupt politics, oil companies and the satellites of industry built around them. The wealthiest and most powerful cling to power and yesterday’s way of doing things for dear life promoting the idea that if you buy Ecover, use organic products and recycle a bit you can avert this looming disaster. We cannot buy our way ‘ethically’ out of this. Individual (consumer) choices will not change anything significantly, although I recommend you do what you can as it helps. We need a complete rethink and overhaul of our current social, political and economic system to evolve. The beauty is that these changes are good for us, they will make us feel better and they will make us happier! I think it’s more useful to promote the ways in which the changes that need to be brought forth will also have a lasting, profound and positive impact on our way of life and relationships, so this is an incentive for the collective to lend their full weight behind political movements and activism that challenge the status quo. It’s not just about an end of era it’s about the beginning of a new one. We have choice. I’m more motivated by the potentiality of what is possible than by nihilist conceptions of apocalyptic doom.
You are also a Yoga practitioner and teacher. How has Yoga helped you on both personal and professional level?
Yoga crept up on me and transformed my life dramatically. I wasn’t consciously looking for that but it gave me something I needed before I even knew it existed. I was a committed practitioner for around ten years before I decided to train as a teacher. As a passion of mine, it has been a dream come true to be able to share yoga and teach it to others. Yoga begins for most, as a practice of postures and meditation, but then becomes a way of living and a way of being. The tools of yoga are used to allow the mind and body to experience an expansion in the concept of the Self and an expansion in the realisation of what is possible, which expands the idea of reality itself. Personally, it has brought me peace, taught me that softness and strength can coexist and it has been a mirror that shows me where I need to improve. For my students maybe it has just helped them sleep better, have less back pain, have a better body, feel more relaxed, maybe some haven’t had a radical shift and that’s okay too. Ultimately, yoga is a practice in the art of living – it is a lifetime, possibly lifetimes, of practice and humility.
You booked with Afrocks – tell us a bit more about your experience?
As anyone with locs will attest, I am very fussy about which hand I allow in my hair! Due to a change in circumstances, I was unable to see my usual loctician and needed to find someone new to do my hair. I literally couldn’t find anyone I was happy with until I came across Afrocks. The platform was easy to use and I found a new loctician that came to my house, was reasonably priced and did my hair to a high standard. The convenience of having someone come to my house cannot be overemphasized! My hair takes a hot minute to do so taking out travel time gave me more time in my life. My loctician was experienced, on time and good company. I would recommend and definitely use again.