I think a decreasing amount of blog posts is probably the best sign to proove that someone has a good life. At some points you do not want to refelct on situations constantly but enjoy the moment and sometimes things just happen too fast. Anyway, let me try to give you a brief story of things that have happened in my world.
As a reminder for those of you who are not in depth aware of the people I hang around with. Here are some characters that might help you in understanding the following post:
Gatera: The oldest Rasta in Rwanda and the owner and creator of the Mulindi Japan One Love Project and the adjecant music club and restaurant
Vivant: Gatera’s son. A pretty chill guy in his 20ies who is helping out at One Love and who has become a good friend and my partner in organizing events there.
Lion Story: A reggae family known to be the most popular reggae band from Burundi (they are also the most popular Burundian band in general) who have fled to Uganda due to political persecution
The Burundi Connection:
Arnauld: The anarchist guitarist of Kinga Blues who is always down for a cozy guitar session and a talk about the world and troubles.
Kimo: The piano player of Kinga Blues and also a pretty good sound-engineer. I recently found out that he was also the piano player and sound-technician of Lion Story back in Burundi.
Ras Clan Dj’s:
Gisa: A very friendly guy, always wearing onepiece rasta (Gewand) made of different fabrics. Gisa is not a DJ but he is a part-time manager for the rest of the crew and also has some street art projects in Kampala.
DJ Brown a.k.a “the commander” : A Lovely man, whose bold forehead turns into fuzzy rasta hair, showing that he is not the youngest anymore. Still, he is bursting with energy and always up for a good party and a joke
Shax: A small and funny guy who ocasionally likes playing with fire and papers and is always good as a companion for a sleepless night and who always drops some good SEEED songs when I’m around the dancefloor.
Alex: A German volunteer who arrived in February. He produces house tracks under the synonyme of “Wurzelholz” and Dj’s occasionally
Konrad: Another good friend who already played with me at One Love with his wonderful guitar.
Marie and Philine: Two lovely girls who have made the weekly Kigali life very beautiful by always hanging around our place and having a good time. (Sometimes we also visit them in their house in Nyamirambo)
The month of April was dominated by several events and parties and mainly influenced by the pack of Dylan, Nick and Jesse. Friends of Jared who traveled down to Rwanda from Egypt and crashed at our place for about 6 weeks. When they went life tried to get back to normal again but there is no normal and probably that’s a good thing.
Here we go.
Chapter One – The Festival
Back in May 2016 I was walking down the little pathway that connects our beautiful house with the One Love. My old friend Bosco had called me and said Bob Marley Day was coming up in 2 weeks and I was supposed to design a flyer and help to record a radio advertisement. Arrived there we sat down in the Bar and I was told that Lion’s Story, the most popular Burundian Reggae Band (and also the most known band from Burundi in general) was planning a performance for Wednesday the 11th of May. The band has been living in Kampala for the last two years because of the situation in Burundi that is still pretty hopeless. Espacially, creative people, journalists and also reggae musicians who speak out against governement oppression are targeted by police raids and so most of the people who have the possibilty try to stray away from Burundi, although Frere Laurent (the guy that I help with the schoolband) goes there regularly. I suppose that life goes on no matter how shitty the situation is.
For the Friday following Bob Marley Day a few Rwandan Reggae Bands were supposed to play and also I heard of the Ras Clan DJ’s who booked for 3 days. Having heard this I quickly came up with the idea for organizing those acts under the name of Bob Marley Festival. So in a week, I recorded the radio advertisements, Vivant talked to Bralirwa (the big Kigali brewing company) and I designed the festival schedule and flyers.
The concert on the Wednesday was pretty huge with a few hundred people. Although the police came around from 8pm telling us to lower the sound everything went fine. I accompanied Strong Voice with my saxophone again, who were the pre-act.
At some point during the evening there was a pretty tough beer shortage at the bar close to the stage. People were getting angry at me and the bar lady that I helped out for a while because I realized that she couldn’t handle it on her own, because there was only one type of beer left. After the concert, Ras Clan played in the club and I stayed up till morning with Shax talking about the world.
On Thursday, Konrad, Alex and I played some Drum and Bass and Dub under the pseudonym of “Dub Armada” and Friday I set up and checked the sound for the bands whith the skills I have acquired from Kimo and the Goethe Institute sound-engineering workshop during the last months.
I chilled with the Ras Clan Boys at our place for a while and prepared some of Aunt Anne’s peanut sauce for them which has become one of my culinary specialities. They invited me to come to Kampala for Laba! Festival which happened last weekend. We will come back to that eventually.
The week after the festival I write a recapture of the days and edited some pictures. All in all, it really gave me a push and new motivation which was quickly lost the next Monday.
Chapter 2 – Hot, Hot, Hot
(the title is an allusion to the song of epic German electronical masterminds Schlachthofbronx. You should check them out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VMPmWDfjks)
For some time Alessa, Jared and I had been planning to go to Goma. We decided to break up the piggybanks, forget about all the advise from scared expats and climb the Nyiragongo volcano which erased half of Goma when it last erupted in 2004. To go to Goma we had to get a new short-term permit at the immigration office. Exhausted and still tired from a long weekend Alessa and I walked up the hill passed the ugly American embassy and shortly after I found myself with a permit in my hand. When I was about to be relieved that it had only taken 45 minutes to get it and was al set to go to work I realised a little thing that turned the day into a rather shitty experience. My bag, includind Laptop, hard-drive and everything else that I usually take to work was not on the chair where I had left it to pay for my Congo visa. Nobody had seen anything and the officer in charge told me the security cameras that are usually running were turned off. I went to the police station to declare my loss and asked a friend to do investigations into dubious shops and blackmarkets but the laptop has not been found. The whole situation is pretty shitty because first of all, everything I ever digitally created or acquired was either on the laptop or the harddrive and I kind of need my laptop for work. At the end of the day I drew a conclusion which I have drawn many times, as I am used to loosing stuff. Stop worrying about things I can’t change. So I moved on and by Friday our little travelling group was joined by Marie and Philine and we were off to Goma.
At 8am we left our friends Mohammeds house, who had prepared food for us and shared his lebaneese hospitality and some of the matrasses from his factory. The roads immediately turned into dirt out of Goma and we made our way to the ranger post in Kiribati. From the window I saw some small little wooden houses who looked very nice. Some of them had little walls made of the volcanic stone from the last volcano eruption that is found all around Goma. Our driver quickly bought a loaf of bread which was staright away handed over to the soldiers at the next (schranke). Past a UN camp and people minding their business we slowly crawled up till we finally arrived at the departure point. All tired but excited we started to hike up the volcano with a group of other Muzungus. One of our fellow travelers, a guy at the age of around 70 was left behind after an hour and went back to the starting point. This was probably one of the better decisions he took in his life, as it even took 6 hours for the younger and more active people to reach to the top. After all we were climbing up a 4000m volcano. Boosted by snacks and the fact that it did not rain we reached the top, sweaty and exhausted at around 3pm and brought our sleeping bags and backpacks into the little huts. Despite the two hoodies I was wearing it was pretty cold up there. After a little nap we went up to the crater and for about and hour our solely activity was admiring the massive energy of lava boiling in the crater. Every few minutes the sight was disrupted by smoke and vapor that slowly accumulated in the crater only to pass away and make the volcano seem even more active and impressive. Down in the crater you could see a few epicenters. Lava was shooting and sprawling into the air and pieces of the crust covering the lava were constantly sinking into the lava again. The sun was slowly setting and in the fading daylight Alessa took the most beautiful pictures of this impressive moment including a beautiful panorama which shows an 18-year old German guy urinating into the crater. Sadly her camera was stolen from our house and is as unfindable as my laptop. After sitting, talking and mainly being amazed by the fact that we were looking into a volcano for some time we went down to our hut to make a fire with the charcoals we had taken with us. We searched our lugage for some papers to use as firestarters but gave up after realizing that they were all too humid. Alessa and Philine finally went up to the rangers camp and shortly after returned with hot coals to help us start our own fire. Stupid as I am. I managed to touch the pot with my (Wange) while trying to blow air into the coals. It didn’t hurt too much and only left a little bruise. In retrospective this was a worthwhile pain. Replying to the inquiries about the weird mark on my face I was able to tell the heroic story of how I burned myself on the top of Nyiragongo, which in some cases included some derivations from the original. After grilling some sweet potatoes on the fire (theese were also provided by the great Mohammed) we ate them and then, Alessa, Philine snuggled up in the hut and tried to escape the cold with the aid of sleeping bags and body-warmth.
We woke up at 5:30 and said our goodbyes to the beautiful volcano that was apparently still sleeping covered by the morning fog. The descension was not as physically demanding as the way up but it still took some time. Back in Goma we went to have lunch/breakfast at Mohammeds place, recharged ourselves with some coffee and then headed out for a quick tour of Goma before heading back to Kigali again.
Chapter 3 – Music Never Stops
After my DJ and Saxophone performance a few weeks ago I was asked to play for a poetry event at the Kwetu Film Institute. A poet from Zimbabwe was around and wanted to get some people together, so I got Arnauld on board and we prepared a few songs together. Apart from that, I accompanied some of the poets and poetesses together with an Inanga (a Rwandan string instrument) player and another guitarist. You can already watch the little teaser that was recorded as an advertisement. The whole video of the event will hopefully follow shortly. Shenge, a friend of Marie, Alessa and me works there and after the show we went to our place because Alessa was having a get-together for her birthday.
The next day I woke up a little hungover and tired and realized that it was Thursday. Saturday would be the 11th of June and Laba! Street Festival, Kampala where I would play with the Ras Clan brothers. After work I quickly packed some stuff, took my saxophone and before I could realize what was happening I was back on the usual busride up to Kampala. As always, the Rwandan border officers where asking too many unnecessary questions and taking a lot of time to put stamps on the passports of people from 5 busses that reached the border simultaneously. It didn’t bother me too much as I was in a positive travelling mood. With the usual state of beeing half asleep whith occasional road bumps forcing my body to leave off into the air from my seat for a second I half-consciously vegetated untill my eyes saw the orange sun slowly rising into the air over Kampala. Out of the bus I realized that I had written down the wrong number of Ras Brown, so Iwent into a café and asked a guy for a smartphone as I am currently running my communications on a 5€ itel phone which can do a lot, though internet and web-browsing for facebook messages is not one of its strenghts. Anyway, as I had just found the right number I got a call from Gisa who was coordinating things and gave me the directions to Brown’s place where I had a wonderful breakfast. As I walked into the door I was surprised by his wife Ivonne and her mother, who greated me in German. His son Leon is also pretty cool. I took some rest and a shower and we went off to meet the rest of the pack at Gisa’s place in the afternoon.
Gisa’s place is not actually Gisa’s place but more of a hub temporarily inhabitated of more or less the same chill people that walk in and out depending on their activities. It is what I would call the image of a classic wornout ecofascisthippieplace. It definetely feels homely from the first moment you walk into the door. The small apartment is located in a run-down building on a small hill 15 minutes from the city center. From the bench outside you have a beautiful view of Kampala, which is especially enjoyable at sunrise. I was told that 2 people actually live there, but whenever they are not at home there are free beds to crash on and there is most certainly always someone smoking and listening to music in the living room.
I reconnected with Shax and Gisa and prepared a playlist for our performance the next day. Afterwards, the Clan was djing at Iguana, where the afterparty took place on Saturday. I was still feeling tired from my trip and decided that I would go home a little earlier than the others. But, then my fellow kulturweit friend Gero walked into me at Iguana. He wrote me last week telling me he has just come from South Africa and was at the airport in Kigali, so I figured he had only changed flights there and was now back in Germany. Apparently, that was far from the truth had Gero is hanging around in Kampala. One of his friends had showed him pictures of the people he hung around with in the afternoon and when Gero saw my beautiful little face on there he decided to come to Iguana. His journey involved a street chase by 4 police motorcycles, that were shooting next to the car that Gero was sitting in. Considering that he seemed pretty chill. After some time I wenthome to Browns and got some sleep before the festival.
I did get the sleep but was still not feeling very awake as we arrived to Bukoto street at 2pm. The organizational details had not been communicated that well, which was probably party owned to the festival organizers and Brown, so I had to play at 3 instead of 6, which was not the perfect timing as Shax and I had just went off to get some food and Gisa was still at his place with the laptop containing the playlist. So I played for a short time and went to enjoy the festival afterwards. The area next to the stage made up of an unfinished concrete construction was quickly transformed into a backstage where I also met some of the Lion Story musicians again (as I said they currently stay around Kampala). At 11pm the last performance was on. Mama nDiake, a Senegaleese singer called me on stage for his last song and at last I played with his band for a bit which was my personal highlight for the day.
The afterparty turned into a sunrise chillout at Gisa’s and in the afternoon I found myself in one of the famous beds.
Now I am back in Kigali, Jared flew out yesterday and if you actually read this blog post up to this point you earn some respect.