safiri salama

toyo1.gifThere are these two german waZUNGU from Chemnitz, Germany who are planing to take part in the next Plymouth-Banjul Challenge 2006 (PBC 06) – driving their ’92 Toyota Corolla Liftback from Plymouth (UK) through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania to the Gambia.

"… If you have a sense of adventure but relatively little cash, then the Plymouth-Banjul Challenge might be up your street!"

"Unofficially spoken of as ‘The Ultimate Banger Challenge’, another motley collection of cars costing less than £100 will be assembled to drive over 3,000 miles from the South coast of Great Britain to the West coast of Africa."

Yani, MY car is an old (i say OLD!) Volkswagen Golf 2 from 1989 with about the same mileage as this said Toyota Corolla and I think its market value would be something like 100,- EUR (~ 9.000 Kshs). The next big thing to repair will be the clutch (the pressure plate inside) and maybe new shocks, lakini, why shouldn’t I take this car in 2006 and drive it up to…uhhhmm….Kenya?!
Lady Mbuzimoja, Lady Tembo, Mzeecedric – are you in for the challenge?

je chanterai pour toi

It’s one of those things I’ve been dying to tell you about … and now I am here in front of my computer and I don’t know how to start…

Well, I think it took me 10 years to understand the meaning of Kar Kar in Boubacar “Kar Kar” Traoré‘s name. KarKar is said to be a Bam(b)ara expression for someone who “goes in between” (to dribble @playing soccer), as it is explained in the beginning of this very fine DVD I eventually received yesterday. Eventually, because in 2003, I discovered that there’s a new documentary called “je chanterai pour toi” (I sing for you) by Jacques Sarasin about Boubacar Traoréle grand magicien du blues malienne, this great musician from Mali who happened to be touring the African continent way back in 1995 – sponsored by the Alliance Francaise (~French Cultural Centre). It took them two years to release it as a DVD and so now I am the proud owner of my very first DVD (yes!! :-)). In fact, the man has been in good old Nairobi in 1995 and that’s when & where I got my first tape of this lovely music. I kept on listening to this tape for hours and days and weeks and months and about a year after that, I got my hands on KarKar’s only available CD “sa golo”. That was in the end of 1996. Later on, the passionate collector in me came across the rest of Boubacar’s discography (+ concerts) and so when I first read about this movie, I was very excited. I *needed* it desperately.


Le monde est fait pour qu’on s’aime.

KarKar is a man of faith. He isn’t directly interviewed, instead, his friends talk about him and describe his biography. They tell us about his lovely wife Pierette who has died and to whom he sings his sweetest songs. They tell us about Mali’s independence and Boubacar’s role in it – his tune “Mali twist” which used to be a great hit on Mali’s Radio. And they also show us what Boubcar KarKar Traoré’s music is all about: love.

It takes a lot of love and passion for a man that doesn’t come from a Griot background to compose and sing such fine tunes. Of course those pentatonic tunes do have a strong historical background – or as friend of mine (from Mali) once told me: “KarKar uses those old melodies that are believed to be our national heritage. He has given them a new meaning”. Think of Ayub Ogada from Kenya (playing his nyatiti) and you have the picture.

When I first checked the Internet about anything on “Boubacar Traoré” way back in 1996, there were only a handful (3-5) sites covering his name. And now the inet is full of interesting information and music, so if this has attracted you to listen into some fine sort-of-blues-music from Mali, and in case you’re still unfamiliar with names like Ali Farka Touré, Rokia Traoré or Amadou et Mariam (to name just a few popular), go and get it!

There are some musicians that put a lot of energy into their music, something you feel, something that really touches you the moment you hear it. For me, Boubacar “KarKar” Traoré is one of those magicians…

Shikwati et al

James S. Shikwati‘s interview on Der Spiegel in July this year actually stirred up some debates over here – maybe also due to that nice but useless Live8 event that took place during that time.
Just two days ago, I came accross this interesting paper Shikwati presented in November 2003 on a workshop called "Campaigning for Free Trade", organised by the Liberal Institute of the Friedrich Nauman Foundation. In this paper, Shikwati gives a summarized overview on what Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are (Patent, Trademark, Copyright, etc.) and what kind of effect they have on Development in Africa (of course, from his point of view – as liberal as it is). He concludes that "Africa must urgently seize this opportunity of protecting intellectual property (…) to attract more investment".
And the reason I am mentioning all this: Ory‘s covering of the Poptech event as well as her mentioning of the XPrize competition and FabLab make me believe that there are some people out there that do not necessarily just do what the mainstream does (~following guidelines) but who see a real possibility and know that change – and I am not talking about Africa only – will depend on people and not on governments. That we (you, me, everyone) can change a lot and that all those helpful tools are already here – we just need to pick them up and use them.
I just want to get away from this position that there might be "others" on top of us that will tell us or even know what’s good for us if, after all, we all know what governments are capable of doing and even worse what they are not. I think it is about time for us to start our own reasonable projects that will put the people, the beneficiaries, in the focus and give them the knowledge to advance. Be it in a technological or social sense.


Ein sehr guter Artikel vom Afrikaliebhaber Dominic Johnson (von der taz) über die Einwanderungspolitik in Europa und die massiven Flüchtlingsströme vom afrikanischen Kontinent ist heute bei Spiegel Online (SPON) erschienen.

"Afrikanische Länder müssten selbst definieren, mit welchem Ziel und unter welchen Umständen sie ihre Bürger ziehen lassen wollen. Sonst werde irgendwann Europa einfach selbst die fähigsten Afrikaner absahnen – und den "brain drain" hochausgebildeter Mediziner, Wissenschaftler und diverser Experten in besser bezahlte Positionen in reichen Ländern, der Afrika jetzt schon ausblutet, noch verstärken. Diese Diskussion allerdings kann Afrika nur geeint mit Europa führen."

Und ich frage mich natürlich: wann wird man in Brüssel den afrikanischen Kontinent endlich als DEN Partner des nächsten Jahrhunderts verstehen? Oder anders gefragt: wie wollen wir in Zukunft leben? Was bringt uns diese Abschottung? Es geht doch nicht darum, die Symptome in Form des Massenexodus zu bekämpfen, sondern Anreize für die Menschen zu schaffen, vor Ort erfolgreich zu werden und etwas von Dauer aufzubauen.
Und: Wieso kann ich als Deutscher mal eben in Kenia einreisen, als Kenianer aber umso schwieriger nach Deutschland kommen?


The blogosphere, it seems, is a net of links that link to each other. Sometimes there isn’t much text to add to an existing entry, as it might have been mentioned elsewhere. My blog being an instrument of (for?) my thoughts is written in English and German – whereby I try to use the language according to my targeted audience. This being said, I have to tell you about this very exotic cigarette advertisement I’ve just come accross in a german blog. In fact, Riemer commented on my blog today and while going through his blog, I found this nini and another blog where he got it from…ayaaa! Confusing? Pole.


Now, this surely isn’t about promoting cigarettes and I guess we all know about their insalubrious (wth?) effect on health (and hey, I AM a smoker and currently trying to get rid of this nasty habit – having started with brands like Rooster (!), Sportsman and Embassy Mild ~15 years ago…). This short 4 MB mpg spot is about a man enjoying his sigara and beating up 3 Kîrîmus. It’s just plain fun and in great 1970’s Blaxploitation style.

If you like those Shaft movies, don’t miss out on this one. And, while writing these words, I just can’t hide my burning affection for THIS fantastic music compilation created by a man (of my age) called Duncan Brooker a few years ago. He literally went through ALL those little music shops in Nairobi & Mombasa (while working as a runner for Mohammed Amin back in those days) and collected thousands (!) of plates (=records) from the most forgotten musical history of East Africa. He even tracked down the then famous Steele Beauttah of MATATA (as pictured below on the cover)!


Ndiyo. Please correct me if I am wrong on this one, but I think Kenyans don’t really appreciate their cultural heritage (and yes, they have lots of memorable stuff, not only heroes like D.Kimathi or intellectual jewels like the late Wahome “Whispers” Mutahi) for they MIGHT (???) think it won’t get them anywhere. Also, you might call me an idealistic mzungu, but if I’d have enough pesa for just doing what I’d love to do, then I’d go and visit those KBC/VOK archives and try to preserve their old recordings (obtaining a LICENCE for doing so with some office desk employee at a Ministry first of all :-). Or, as Duncan Brooker put it: “If I didn’t save this music no one else would“.
(I got my copy of Afro Rock via Ebay as they didn’t have it on any longer, but over in the U.S. they still seem to have some copies in stock.)

p.s.: “The Legends of Afrobeat“… :-)