In this episode, Joe interviews Stéphane Lasme, a former professional basketball player from Gabon who is now a partner at SteddeCapital, a private markets investment platform investing long-term capital into U.S.- and Africa-based opportunities across sports ownership, infrastructure, technology and plant medicine.
Lasme speaks of his childhood, growing up in Gabon with more traditional Catholic values while journeying deep into the jungle to visit his Grandmother every summer. It was there that he embraced the cultural aspect of Gabon and community, and first learned of iboga, which he had a profound experience with at age 12, and would later revisit in his basketball days. He discusses the drive and passion that led him to become the first person from Gabon to play in the NBA, and the subsequent pressure, stress, cultural differences, and “ok, what now?” moments that came at the end. He talks about Gabonese traditions; how iboga improved his stress relief and mental focus; how embracing yoga and Buddhist methods of self-discovery improved his life; scientific reductionism vs. the magic of mystery and trying to define an experience; and more.
While Gabon allows for the export of iboga, Lasme’s goal is to build a lab and treatment center in Gabon and share the power of Gabonese culture with people – so they can experience the medicine in its own country, with its traditional rituals and music. He has begun the fundraising process, and through his investment and facilitation work, is working to get African athletes to invest back into Africa and make Gabon a major destination for iboga.
“Deep inside, I wanted to be the first basketball player from Gabon to get drafted in the NBA. I never advertised this as a kid. I never advertised it to anyone. Even while I was at UMass, I never talked about it. But I know there is a relation between me going through that culture, that traditional experience, and me deciding to be that person. That’s why I say ‘me deciding who I want to be’; I think there is a big connection. And I can’t tell you or explain to you where the connection started, what triggered me thinking that way, but I just know it’s connected.”
“We have to believe in ourselves. Our stuff here, whatever we have in Gabon, is actually the shit. It’s actually the stuff that’s going to help everyone. Everyone is going to run towards us to look for solutions, so we should be prepared. We should be working on a better environment for people to come and just witness what kind of a great thing that we have going on in Gabon. This is the motivation I have today: really building this company, building this network, this ecosystem, this network of people in the states and in Gabon around this plant. That’s the main thing that motivates me.”
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