Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Essay on belonging

As far as I can remember, I have been excluded. I never felt any sense of belonging. I was afraid of the crowd. So terrified that I had to place myself inside every crowd on my way in order to feel alive. I was looking for an entry point for existence - something I have never achieved.

For decades I walked along walls to be invisible. Better not to be seen, than being victim of alienation. After years of sweeping floors I am convinced I do not belong. Then I began to travel the world. It did not give me belonging, but made me accept myself.

Without the world I would have been nothing.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Late night danger

One evening he walks with his girlfriend by the hand. It is very late at night downtown Nairobi. They have been out all night dancing and drinking. Just as they turn around a corner near City Market a boy approach them from behind as if he comes from nowhere. He asks if they know each other. The boy wants him to pay for her - as if she is a prostitute.

She tries to talk to the boy. The boy is aggressive and follows them. He tells his girlfriend not to talk, but walk fast. He wants them to get out of there as quickly as possible. He walks faster and tries to make her do the same. She is scared and looks back to keep an eye on the boy. The boy talks on the phone as if he is calling somebody for assistance. They walk straight.

The boy seems to have given up, but he is still in the background. They turn around the corner of the street where their hotel are located and have escaped the danger. They are now safe.

They enter the hotel room and are on the bed. She is shaking. He holds her and makes her feel comfortable again.

In the next couple of days he feels scared. He anticipate danger from everywhere, but nothing happens. It makes him uncertain, and he reminds himself that he must not forget to take care. The few times he has been in trouble in Nairobi has been in a woman's company. Alone he has always been safe and secure.

A woman makes a man vulnerable.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Girls - will he ever be able to choose?

I meet him in sleazy bars. We talk secretly and silent about our lives. Though I am not saying that the information we exchange has a very intimate relationship to the truth. But then again, the truth is an overrated commodity.

He tells me about his life in Africa. At least this is what he calls the place he frequent goes to. Africa - a rather broad concept, I should think. Most of the time we talk about women; probable a very male and heterosexual topic. But I guess it is because this is what we are.

Sometimes I wonder if he will ever settle down and enjoy only ONE woman. He will immediately respond that he has tried, but he failed to keep her or maintain her, as he choose to express it. For European ears it might sound very exploitative, but it is not. Only a form of expression. In his defense he concludes that it will be a very long time before he can imagine a women he dares to trust enough to rely on her completely. I find it a very cynical verdict.

This time he has again returned from an African city where he has already been many times. He tells me about Mary and Maria. He was confused about their names. There was something about both of them that tricked his memory. He is sure that he met them before. But instantly, he corrects himself,

He says: "No, I didn't meet them before. It was Nancy and Joy!"

I suggest that women very easily can change names - like they change hairstyle. He shakes his head, and he looks almost furious. He suddenly appears scary as if he is bewitched. He stares straight at me and says that one of them was the best fuck ever. Before I can react, he almost swallows his own words again.

He babbles: ".. or was I dreaming?"

He continues in dreamy tone: "A womans tongue and lips has giving me graceful moments in heaven"

I cannot agree more. But I think he has taking himself too far. He has converted his relationship to woman into pure consumption. Every time he looks in a new direction there is always a new women staring at him and he cannot reject the temptation to act on her lead.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

RIP - Dandaloo Geoffrey, Jekaki Band

Geoffrey died last night. I remember him with great joy from Jekaki Band. When I was living in Kampala from 2003 to 2005 the 4 boys were everywhere. Always behind leading musicians and at National Theatre every Monday evening.

I have always wanted to write stories about Jekaki Band and these 4 boys, which stopped being boys long time ago. Unfortunately Geoffrey will not be around to read my story.
My mistake - an inexcusable hesitation.

There were a special energy between them and in Jakaki Band, that we ought to remember and recapture, but such an energy will not last forever:-( But the band have had great influence for many musicians in Kampala. All 4 of them were and are great artist.

Later on after I moved back to Denmark Jakaki Band traveled to Denmark and other European countries to perform. They also performed just around the corner from where I live in Copenhagen. It was a very nice experience to see them in this very different setting, though the venue was not the best.

Geoffrey was also in Germany a number of times. In that period he grew, how should I put it, very big. One time I met him in Kampala after he came back from Germany. and I could hardly recognise him, because of his size:-)

There was a time where he would come and ask me all kind of questions about Europe. I think it was because he had got a German wife. He must have thought that I could help him understand his muzungu woman. A cross cultural relationship is NOT very easy to be in. Unfortunately I don't think I was of much help for him - and maybe I was not the right one to ask!

Eventually Geoffrey left Jakaki Band. He began to play cultural music, and I heard he also did a very good job training young boys and girl to play instruments in Masaka, and it sound like him.

The only way to remember him is to keep making music, playing instruments, writing songs and stories

Dear Geoffrey
Rest in peace
We will remember you
Thank you for the music

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Volunteers! - damn you.

Are you even here?

Young volunteers - do you know, why you are here, or are you just having fun?

You are in the midst of a post teen-age rebellion. It will evaporate as everything else you touch. You are caught by your own ignorance.

Africa has become Latin America in 1980'es. We have nothing to offer, but the world will continue without us.

Another continent sees itself being abused by young Europeans for self-realisation. They will soon return home. Not very influenced by what they have seen. Maybe because they have not seen very much.

Perhaps it sounds hard and cynical, but the world does not change very much in a couple of decades.

We can as well call it by its name - cultural colonialism. There is no "post" about the colonialism I see in Africa today.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Kenya - a new beginning?

I have left Kenya - again. I cannot even count the many times I have been to Kenya during the last 10 years. Still I am not sure I understand very much. This time I am about to say that democracy is very superficial in Kenya, but where is democracy NOT superficial?

3 weeks before election day I arrive in Nairobi. I am sitting in one of my usual drinking places downtown Nairobi. It is a bar in Koniange Street where corporate people enjoy to come and have drinks in the evening - no, it is not Kengeles, but the bar on the oppesite side of the street. The name of the bar cannot come to my mind. When I enter the bar the first public TV debate has just ended. All the participating candidates are hugging and kissing each other. I do not take much notice. The man next to me at the counter tells me that the debate has been very good and the discussion where held on high intellectual level.

I stay in the bar for a couple of hours and drink the usual number of guinness before I return to my hotel and go to sleep. The hotel is always the same and located around the corner.

During the following weeks here is a very profound and intimate exitement - everyone remembers the last election in 2007 and especially the post election violence in 2008. Nobody want it to happen again, but the atmosphere tells the story of fear and hope. We know now that the election happened peacefully, though it was a very fragile process.

The peacefulness has been good for Kenya, and when the result finally was announced (6 days after election day), it appears as if everyone accept the result. There has been many questions asked. Many questions are still unanswered, and only time will answer them.


I am not going where I am supposed to go. Here is something wrong. I have neglected my own project.

I should not make others walk in my old footsteps. They are dry and worn out tracks. Very similar to the railway here. Following these traces will not give you any experience - just empty hands. Only fresh footsteps will give you hunger after more, BUT walking in somebodies footsteps is maybe a false approach.

I can only show people beauty if I walk somewhere for the first time. Also, I have to be fresh and exploring. It is not where we walk - but how we walk.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


I have dedicated myself to understand white men in Africa by using my own flesh and blood. I am not sure that I understand very much - and I definitely do not like what I see.

People have asked me to take photographs, and I told them that there are no pictures I can take that will make you see what I see - not because I see something extraordinary. Actually I do not see much. I am almost blind. But I see what I see and you see something else.

Instead I thought I could take you where I go and we would see the same light shine, but recently I realised that I was wrong. There is nothing I can do - and no place I can take you that will make feel what I feel. My feelings are mine. You will have your own feelings and I will remain anti-social.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Africa has let me live an unusual and in all ways extraordinary life. I will always be grateful and respect her deeply.

I have seen beauty that I never before even dared to dream about. Men and women have shown me grace, compassion, empathy and love.

Many may think that they did it for opportunistic reasons, but I know that they did it because that is what they do.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Every time I fly to Africa I am followed by a former colleague from MS (now Action Aid). They are always on duty while I travel on my own free will. But we all crisscross continents and go to Africa again. A continuous ritual installed many years ago. For my own part it all began by coincidence. So much for my free will. Others might have had a more decided strive.

I am again on a KLM flight - it was also KLM that brought me to Africa the first time, a little more than 10 years ago.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Modern Oasis

During Christmas and New Year Season I needed my body to be heated up. The travelling plans that I had intended did not work out. In the last minute I ended up in Sharm El Sheikh on the southern tip of Sinai Desert.

Il Mercato, Hadaba, Sharm El Sheikh
A rather strange place. Here everything is plastic. It has all been build for touristical purposes. The Egyptians you will meet have travelled far away to come to work here in the tourist industry. Before it was only a small fishing village, but it has long been evaporated by hotels and resorts.

A white man enjoying life? - Behind one of many all inclusive resorts
I will not say that I regretted to have gone. It turned out to be a very interesting experience. All of Sharm El Sheikh is a modern oasis. An oasis is an artificial place made with a huge use of water and money. So everything cost something. You cannot just wander around. Every piece of beach is property of somebody and they will charge you to enter. This is the reason for the all inclusive vacation concept. You buy a vacation in a resort with everyhting included - and that is where you will stay. Expext maybe me and a few other weirdos.

Those of us who insist on wandering around will have a real hard time in Sharm El Sheikh, but off course it is possible. And it is also possible to find deserted places - here in the desert, like it is everywhere else.

During my stay in Sharm El Sheikh I was thinking about what the point is of having vacation in such an artificial place. I had a lot of time to think, because I had no urge to talk to anybody or explore anything. I tried to avoid any entertainment what so ever. After all I experience so much at home. When I am off and away I want nothing. Just my little selfish me and my simple thoughts.

Suddenly it stroke me that we want to have vacation in a place like Sharm El Sheikh because our vacation is supoosed to be as far away from reality as possible - in order for us NOT the feel anything.

I am still in Africa, though what see does not resemble my life in Africa during the last 10 years. But in many ways North Africa is closer linked to the Middle East. Everything here is very effective and straight forward. One evening I am sitting in the area called Old Market to have a cup of coffee. The waiter is running while serving his costumers. Actually this place reminds me a lot more of Mexico than anywhere else. Here is the same self-esteem that recall from travelling down Baja California peninsula in the 1980es. Is there a connection between arab and latino men?

Omar tried to make me pay him for the pictures he begged me to take of him!
Det helt besynderlige var at lige pludselig var der ingenting. Hvor der ikke endnu er bygget hoteller, er der blot rå ørken. Der er intet gjort for at skjule det eller gøre byen til et sammenhængende hele. På kryds og tværs løber 4-sporede veje. De forbinder de forskellige dele af byen. I baggrunden ser man overalt de golde og røde bjerge som strækker sig hundrede af kilometer mod nord. Jeg befinder mig ca. 100 km. syd for det sted hvor Moses engang pulveriserede stentavlerne med de ti bud. Det er en ørken uden lov og ret, mens der langs kysten udstilles stor rigdom. Indimellem resorts og hoteller ligger også rige egypteres residenser - heriblandt tidligere præsidents Mubaraks villa.

Mit eget hotel er sært på sig egen måde. De fleste er her (som overalt i Sharm El Sheikh) på en all inclusive package. Hver aften er der underholdning. En gruppe af artister (som de kalder sig) er ansat til at varetage underholdningen. Pigerne danser mavedans og drengene laver ildshow. Det samme hver eneste aften. Om dagen går især pigerne rundt og snakker med hotellets gæster ved swimmingpoolen, som de perfekte værtinder.

I will let you wonder about the range of services she and her colleagues are offering the guests by the pool. Under other circumstances I might have investigated the matter myself, but I must have been extremely exhausted, because for a full week I hardly spoke to anybody - or maybe I found it all so imaginary that other people did not really exist in flesh and blood from my point of view.

But real life have a nasty tendency to crush into your phantasy in the most brutal way - and I think there is nothing artificial about it - unfortunately.

Another and a lot more pleasant reality check was the evening when I was dining in Restaurant Abu El Sid located in the party area of Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay. First of all the food was delicious, but the service was exquisite - outstanding and excellent. Almost as good as in Tamarind Restaurant in Nairobi, which is a place I always look forward to return to. Apparently Abu El Sid has a branch in Cairo, and this reason enough to go to Cairo.

Evening time in Naama Bay, Sharm El Sheikh

Bon appetit.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

2003-13: My first 10 years with Africa..

Today is my 10 years anniversary. Exactly 10 years ago I came to Africa for the first time. In Arusha I was looking up in the Tanzanian sky. I saw millions of stars. Cristal clear. I think that I can say that I had never before seen such beautiful sight. It was as if I had a close up of the Milky way. I was night aften night amased because it was never cloudy - always clear. BUT there was none of stars that I could remember from my childhood. Not a single star formation. Everything was alian. Nothing at all ressembled my previous life.

This vision of the Tanzanian sky has become a symbol of my African experience. I was a child again and had to start over. I had to gain new experiences and skills. In the beginning it was like a detective novel, but during the years I accepted what I had already read in Kapuscinskis books: That Africa will never become a habit. She will always be a condition, and therefor you cannot understand Africa but you can be Africa. In the same way as you let the sun heat you body up and feel the sweat come to the surface and evaporate from your skin. You do not do anything. There is nothing to do about it. We are one substance you, me and the sun.

I have met so many men and women in Africa. They taught me so much about life - and about myself. My gratitude will be eternal. The kindness and graciousness have been extraordinary. I have never really found a way to say thank you - other than trying to show respect and keep on coming back. I am sure I will do exactly that as long as I am able to move.

Thank you is a small word, but it is nevertheless a word that you will have to used again and again. So let me also used it again here.

Mwebale nnyo - mwebale dalla.
Thank you so much - really thank you very much.