The journey continues and we’re happy to be on board once again. Earlier this year, British singer/songwriter JIM KROFT shared the first part of his ambitious journal with NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION, featuring his travelling experiences from China. It’s part of his overall plan to travel the world within the next two years, armed only with his guitar and a camera. Now, the project continues, featuring JIM KROFT‘s personal diary from his last trip to the African continent. Find all previous entries of his adventures right here.
And even better: find the world premiere of his new music video Beyond the Bloodshed right here along with a few words from the man himself.
“Beyond the Bloodshed” is the final video shot during my 2015 journey through East Africa. Filmed in Uganda, but featuring clips from Zanzibar, Tanzania and Kenya, the main part of the video was shot in Kampala after I lost my wallet and exchanged a ride home on a motorcycle for a gig in the local Bukoto Market – also featured here. The video is released as I’m heading to Russia where I will play in most cities along the Trans Siberian Express. Journeys #3 begins.’
His new EP Journeys #2 is out now and the accompanying documentary arrives next January. For now, enjoy his latest experiences while travelling through Tanzania.
I am about to depart for Russia for the 3rd of my journeys. It is happening within the context of aspects of my life breaking down, and unlike the other entries in this journal, I struggle to transport myself to the past. The present is characterised by a state of deep change and the thought of attempting to process that on my own while making my way across Russia makes me feel, well, a little scared.
It makes me think of one of the things I am exploring in Journeys; the capacity to be alone. And this theme transports me back to my departure from Zanzibar. I am in the airport, and I am struggling with leaving, because I have made friends, and simply put, I don’t feel like going on alone. It is an experience, an emotion, that continually rehumanises one.
On top of that, I hate flying, and I’m getting into a 12 seat plane with a South African pilot who looks like he’s come directly from the pub. As he sets off down the runway he feels no need to shut the cockpit door, and we fly into the African sky as it swings freely open. I laugh from my belly; at the graceful absurdity of it. We pass through the clouds and into the open sky. I feel returned to my adventure, and grateful for the knowledge that though we may have the capacity for self reliance, aloneness is really only a friend when partnered with the knowledge it is a choice.
I arrive in Arusha, head for the show and midway through there is a devilish commotion. The event organiser jumps onto the stage and pushes me through the backdoor. I spend a couple of hours hiding while the club boss negotiates then pays off the Tanzanian police because he “dam well wants the the show to go on”. Realising that this has become the most expensive gig I’ve ever played, i then try to to give him his money’s worth and play every song I know.
Later, I meet a pair of American ladies, who it transpires, turn out to be as close to saintly people as I’ve come across. After the conversation turns to my film work, they ask if I will make a trailer for them the next day at St Joseph’s orphanage. So we head up, and my guitar is last minute also packed into the truck. I arrive and spend the morning shooting the trailer, whose objective will be to carry on the building of sustainable infrastructures for the orphanage. Fuck the cliches, and fuck all the quips about aid workers and “do gooders” and all the rest of the cynicism. The fact is is that the world is screwed up and needs the energy of its people. It will never be fixed, but it does not have to remain broken either. You spend a day with 3 year old children who have lost their parents – often in unspeakable circumstances – and the need for intellectualising becomes obsolete. It’s a case of roll up your sleeves, or keep silent.
In any case, the sisters insist I play some songs for the kids, and from one moment feeling a sense of reservation that it is somehow inappropriate, it becomes the single best show I will ever play. Just to sing while the young kids at first look on, then get up, dare a little shimmy, surround me, participate, dam well smile, as only kids can do when they are having fun. It’s enough to return one’s bones to the bottom of their source. Sometimes all that matters is to share and participate in a moment of joy.
The next day I fly to Dar Es Salaam where I’m to play a residency in my digs, and it turns out that those “digs” are in fact a brothel of sorts. Razz 9 – a local rapper who will become a friend and educate me about the terrible persecution of Albino’s in Tanzania – is blasting out his tunes while a mix of Tanzanian prostitutes, powerful businessmen, and seedy sex-pats play out the ageless game. Over the course of the residency I will meet a South African commodity trader battling to get his precious metals out of the country, a British ex-consulate of a middle East Country and a Tanzanian politician who seems determined to become friends.
Within this context of seedy sex trade and the nightly exchange of money and bodily fluids, my journeys songs find their most surreal context. One night after a show, I flee in a matatu to Bagomoyo. My brilliant journeys manager Tim had discovered that a great Gogo musician lived there. I arrive and Msafiri Zawose and his band accompany me on a wonderful outdoor stage with the Tanzanian stars glinting and dancing above. He drives me home that night, and since there is ‘always more room in a car in Tanzania’ we manage to squeeze in the 10 members of his band…and one roaming journeyman of course.
The next morning he shows me the complex of huts where his family, over 50 people, all live, each assigned a role – some fishermen, some with livestock, and many of them making instruments. He allows me to film his band rehearse, and it is one the single most powerful musical experience of my life.
My time in Tanzania started with a deep sense of aloneness, but taught me that in Africa, you are never lonely. Self reliance is far more powerful when accompanied by an openness – and acceptance – of one’s own vulnerability. If we shut down to that, we are just alone. It provides the key which opens doors. Writing this has helped me to remember that something more important to pack than self reliance, is our capacity to be vulnerable. It is that which connects us, far more than our strength. And with that, I set off to Russia.
Find all previous parts of his Journals right here.