27 December 2006

06 review is here

Best records of 2006

It’s the end of another year; none of us getting any younger but not all of us bothered by it. What a great year with music it has been. 2006 marked the year that I finally stopped having any glue on the chart actions (such as highest new entries and bubbling under – you know the clichés) and I am quite happy about it. There has been far too many absolutely mind-blowing releases for me to care about any major label calculated must have records which generally feature not more than one or two even okay tracks and rest is fillers. Many people say album format is dying, which I agree with to an extend that it is at least fading. I do not separate the mixtapes from full albums on this chart and of course, there has been many records I have enjoyed this year which were released earlier. Those records, well only a handful of them, are listed as well. It is my chart so I do what I like.

Few notes from the list. Lowkey is number one. It is not even that I think his record as such would be that much better than the others, but boy.. he can spit and he spits knowledge as well with an absolutely amazing flow. There are few tracks there that are not all that but in a big picture, he has certainly restored my trust in good music and great raps this year. I wrote earlier about Soweto Kinch’s record and that could have, as an album, been number one as well quite frankly. So many artists worth mentioning. I am actually having Akala’s It’s Not a Rumour in my headphones right now and the first half of that keeps everyone hyped and the end is just big in many different ways. His track Shakespeare is very close to the song of the year for me. C-Mone record was one of the heaviest of the spring and it is also noteworthy that Public Enemy has two records in top ten and one, the best out of three, New Whirl Odor, was released late last year but I only got it this year. I would also like to add that the word on the street is that my friend ENDZ ended up with a masterpiece (Kingdom of the Next) for which I by the way designed artwork for but I have not had an opportunity to hear it all so I cannot put it on chart. Needless to say I cannot wait to hear it.

  1. Lowkey – Key to the Game vol. 3
  2. Soweto Kinch - Life In The Day Of B19, A (Tales Of The Tower Block)
  3. C-Mone – The Butterfly Effect
  4. K’Naan – Dusty Foot Philosopher
  5. Akala – It’s not a Rumour
  6. Public Enemy – Beats and Places
  7. Asa – Terveisiä Kaaoksesta
  8. Tote King – Un Tipo Cualquiera
  9. Public Enemy – Rebirth Of a Nation
  10. Roots Manuva - Alternately Deep
  11. Promoe – White Man’s Burden
  12. Sway – This is my Demo
  13. Conquering Lions - Conquering Lions
  14. Black Mist - Drudge Dialect vol. 1 Mixtape
  15. Little Darker Mixtape
  16. Muph & Plutonic – Silence the Sirens
  17. Ty – Closer
  18. Sean Burke – Conscious Hip Hop
  19. Afrolution vol. 1 Original African Hip Hop
  20. Baby J – F.T.P. vol. 2
  21. Baby Blue – Out of the Blue vol. 2: The World Will Know
  22. Blade – Guerrilla Tactics
  23. Jurassic 5 – Feedback
  24. Leeroy – Bollywood Trip
  25. Beverley Knight – The Voice (Best of)

The records released before 2006 that made the difference to me this year.

  1. Clotaire K – Lebanese
  2. Public Enemy – New Whirl Odor
  3. Skinnyman – Council Estate of Mind
  4. Kent – EP
  5. INTIK – La Victorie
  6. Pete Philly & Perquisite – Mind State

Best books (I have read) in 2006.

I don’t read as many books as I listen to music. Or I read but lot of it is for the studies and hardly any of the books are published in the year I read them and actually most of them are journal articles.

To me, no question, the book of the year was William Bloke Modisane’s “Blame me on history”. As I rarely read fiction I am more used to factual texts but Modisane writes his story in such a vivid way and without pretending that it hit me hard when reading. The book is his story in apartheid South Africa and it made me feel more than any book ever. I would say that is so far my top book ever. I just happened to read it in 2006.

  1. Blame me on History by William Bloke Modisane
  2. Basic features of Nkrumaism by Kwame Nkrumah
  3. I didn’t do it for you by Michela Wrong
  4. My Hip Hop is African and Proud by Emile Jensen
  5. Making terrorism history by Scilla Elworthy and Gabrielle Rifkind

Best films of 2006

I struggled with films this past year. Although there has been some fantastic films that I have seen, Birmingham still has not got a proper cinema showing films that are not produced by Jerry Bruckenheimer and my favourite cinema in Helsinki, Bio City, was closed. Luckily I saw a great film just last week, The Days of Being Young, so I have at least some films worth mentioning. This year I have also watched hours of documentaries from the internet so special mention goes here to YouTube and Google Video and the likes. But looking at the list now I cannot help but feel “was that it?”.

  1. Joyeux Noël – Merry Christmas
  2. Days of Being Wild
  3. Tsietsi, My Hero
  4. His Big White Self – Nick Broomfield (documentary)
  5. Innocence
Only one more year for the next one. Have a good end of the old and beginning of the new.

19 December 2006

Few lines from Helsinki

The past few months the general hectic life has practically made me a non-blogger. That wasn’t the meaning at all but I’ve just been busy doing million things and writing few others. I’m happily on holiday now back in Finland so I decided that the quietness must stop.

I have been preparing my end of year lists which seem to be a some sort of a obligation for every blogger. It’s been a great year with music, I’ve read some brilliant books but films this year have been low standard. I’ve seen some good ones, of course, but because of my circumstances I haven’t even had a proper chance to see good quality films from all over the world. I will not dwell on that more now; the actual lists are coming in few weeks time.

Myspace has taken some of my time as well. It would be such a cool service if only it wasn’t owned by the devil himself. I (amongst millions of others) was chosen as a person of the year by TIME magazine. I am not sure if that is a worth of mention in my CV. I guess it’s a sign of times though. Now I am in the same league with Hitler and Stalin - how nice.

I was watching the other day quite interesting documentary about the war on terrorism. I didn’t yet have time to watch the whole thing and when it comes to these conspiracy theories around this modern so called terrorism that we have this so called war against, I am not sure about them. I like them though because they raise good questions and they must be answered. I doubt they will ever be. This documentary particularly had some very interesting material about London bombings.

My own personal experience, and I could write a standard blog entry to be used every time I use airports, is pretty grim. The war seems to be mainly on customer service and even after all these months, the airports and air companies have failed to adjust into the new regulations although for us, the paying customers, there are only two options and one of them is not to fly at all. Queues both in Birmingham International and Amsterdam’s Schiphol were ridiculous and the new checks haven’t been facilitated much. People waited in lines for ages some even missing their connecting flights. I’d like to ask how is it even possible to get that kind of connecting flight that leaves too soon after the first one lands and the new waiting times haven’t been thought of? I ended up running like a mad-person to get out of there and finally landed in Helsinki few hours after – in time I must add.

Nothing major on other fronts. Few pictures from here, lists are coming soon much like they did last year and I’ll get other things to write about soon enough.

28 November 2006

LDN fotos.

Few new (tourist) fotos have been uploaded again online. I went to London this weekend to have a small break from writing my dissertation and quite grey Birmingham. Had good times there seeing some friends first in Brixton and then in Tottenham. I actually only came back today (Monday) and just about made it in time to the lecture directly from the station. Next few weeks are bound to be very busy again and I have never looked so much forward to the holidays (I am sure I have - I am just being dramatic).

19 November 2006

Photo talk

This post is about taking photos so if that is not your cup of tea I recommend you to have a quick look at the few sample photos and then maybe read the next post which is cinema related or just go about your day. If you are interested in taking photos this may be a bit simplistic; I am an amateur but generally speaking.. some good stuff in this post.

Now that I have ruled out all the readers and no one will get this far I can pretty much say anything – how liberating.

I like taking photos. I think it is great. I like visual things but I can’t draw so Potoshop and camera are my dear friends. When I am sitting in a bus, walking buying bread or doing anything I do I always do few things on side. I almost always listen to music and while doing that I hunt the good audio hooks, beats and speech clips to use in some jingle, promo or public service announcement at some point and I also scout the scenery of spots to take photographs in. These are the two things I almost never stop doing. Taking a photo sometimes takes much more effort than you would think. You find the place you think is good, you go back there with your camera when the weather and light is right, you take as many photos as you feel it takes to get a good one and then finally at home you can really see whether it is as sharp as you wanted it to be. If not you may have to go back and take a better one. I often go back and take pictures from same place to get them right – well at least sometimes I do. One of those photos that still needs to be taken again is the one from the train station that you can see if you scroll down a bit. The one with a passing train. It needs smaller ISO and longer exposure time to get the movement of the train to be more dramatic. There – I gave a way my secret.

Another one that I need to return to is this self-portrait idea that I got in a bus. I think it is getting there but I am such a poor model in photos I need to try it again and hopefully in a bit better light so it is bit sharper.

I also printed this week few images and for the first time ever I tried the a3 size. I must admit it does make the images to look quite cool. I only had time for few prints but I did the view from the Robben Island. This is an image I took few months back in Cape Town and it practically is a view that the political prisoners, including Mr Mandela, would have been seeing a lot while collecting the seaweed from the water.

Another print I did was the flyer/poster I did last week for my friend ENDZ for her album launch party. I have designed the CD covers as well so this follows the same visual concept. I didn’t have anything from that session (CD covers and other promo stuff) yet on print so it was nice to see it and it looked alright as well.

I have also done another advert recently for my radio show but because its content is not confirmed yet I can’t put it up yet. I think it is one of the coolest things I have done though. This is an advert I did for my dad not too long ago. I liked the idea of doing something that is completely different from the majority of rather dull adds you see on local papers.

I have been through few photo blogs and they seem to have this thing where they mention the camera and its model that has been used, aperture and other information and sometimes I just look at the photos and feel that the brand of the camera could have been Nokia. I am sure that it is some kind of an industry standard to list this information but I couldn’t even always tell myself from my photos. It's not always so rational. It's more like a bit more there and that and that is it. Well I guess if you care you can tell it from the image as well. That much about my photo talk. I wanted to write a bit about it because recently I have mainly posted some photos and not much texts. Feel free to continue going to my Flickr accounts here and here and also now you can check my newly re-designed radio show blog from here.

Peace and until the next one.

I saw some film - I think.

Just coming back from cinema and it has been a while since the last time. I was first eager to see the Borat film, then what I read about it made me think that it is just offensive and now that I have seen it I must say that it is forgettable.

I was supposed to write few things about it but on the way home, in approximately 45 minutes, I forgot most of it. I laughed few times, couldn’t watch few times and wished it would end already few times. Things like that. I have seen better and I have seen worse.

There is only so much fun that I get from silly Americans and there is only so much that, as a foreigner with an accent in England for three years, I can laugh at the Englishman making funny foreign accent.

So yeah.. blaa blaa blaa.. What I actually found a bit offensive was everything around my cinema experience. As a student I paid £ 3.70 to get in which, especially on a weekend, is not too bad but then I went buying some sweets and ended up paying £ 3.80 for a small pick and mix bag. So that was the biggest investment and it really wasn’t that big bag because I had finished it before the film started.

While it may sound like I ate it very fast, that is not actually quite true either. The film was supposed to start at 19.25 and I was on my seat something like twenty past. I know that there is few trailers and adds before the actual film starts but somehow it is nice to get a good seat and just settle down; I enjoy that kind of small things and a bit of organisation. First fourteen minutes (I actually checked it because it felt a bit long) was adds. Commercials about how Coke can save me from boredom because it is exiting (it didn’t mention anything about it funding Israeli army) and how I need some big Land Rover car because that will take me to some parallel reality which they like to call beyond (they didn’t mention anything about it being more environmental to drive smaller car or how much increasingly expensive petrol the big car uses). I realised that living in this internet world, like I have done in a past few months, one gets distanced from the consumerism. Well it depends because you can pick the sites you visit. After the commercials there was ten minutes of incredibly boring looking films about Christmas, some fiction riding on that Lord of the Rings wave, a bit of a suspense and of course an American comedy. Actually all the films were American so pointing out the origin of the comedy is redundant. Some call it cultural imperialism, some just stick with good old corporate capitalism.

Now after the trailers I had already watched almost twenty five minutes of someone trying to sell me something. Then after that there were few more quick adds; Mobile phone company telling me how I should switch my phone off just this once and blaa blaa blaa. To be honest with you after watching almost half an hour of commercials and while doing so eating the most expensive bag of sweets I started to think that the cinema ticket was a rip off. In commercial TV, you don’t pay for the licence because you watch the adds, in online subscription station you don’t hear adds because you pay for the service and now there are new services from where you can download music for free if you watch some adverts while doing it and there is a new mobile phone company starting up a free service where you only have to listen to advertising but not to pay in order to chat away with your mates. You see where I am getting with this? I think you do – these cinema companies could compromise one form of generating money from the Pavlovian audiences who religiously go and see anything they are told to.

I also had a great experience on my evening of cinema. Before the film I went to the restroom and as it is really cold here and I couldn’t feel my fingers at that point, it felt really good to just put them under hot water tap. This excitement got even better with the dryer which blew some hot air to dry my hands. See, there is always something good in everything.

13 November 2006

More photos.

I have been busy enough with university work and have not been writing anything in a while. Cannot do it today either as I must write a script for radio drama believe it or not. Few fotos from here anyway.

20 October 2006

High fives to the youth!

It is hard to understand the rationale behind the actions of some politicians… no wait, actually, it is very easy to understand the rationale behind the actions of some politicians; it only is hard to justify them.

Possible next Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, met yesterday with Rhymefest, an American Hip Hop artist. They talked about whether Hip Hop is harmful and sends a negative message to the youth. My first thought about it was “Rhyme.. who?”! How is he the representative of the worldwide Hip Hop community and if he is, how come I know nothing about his political activism? Has there been a new rising star and hope for political music or political musicians since I gave up on American Hip Hop?

Usually I start making conclusions without much research. This time was different. I went to listen to some of the tracks from this guy and it appears that I can safely continue ignoring the overground in the United States as Rhymefest, in the first song that starts blasting from his website tackles the important issues of having “these hoes on the floor”, he asks women to “put it on his stick” and invites them to perform oral sex with him. Go back to sleep hopefuls. This is not political – just another rapper disrespecting women and promoting himself. He denies this is about promoting himself but it obviously would be rather unlikely that he did not.

Or am I judging him too quickly? Maybe. Maybe I should wait for longer time and see what it is that he does and stands for. Maybe. But then again - there are people in the British Hip Hop community who could have talked about the real topics; Blak Twang amongst many others have done songs specifically about this Hip Hop lyrics / gun crime problem, and if they are not good enough (or sell enough records and create enough publicity) then surely there are several Americans who have some credibility when it comes to the politics in music.

So, Cameron decided to dodge the bullet, and talk to an unthreatening rapper from America instead of a British one. As I said, it is easy to understand because it is unlikely that an American rapper, rapping about hoes, would bring up the social condition of the large groups of the society in UK, whose life Hip Hop is, who Mr Cameron has criticised. At least not with any authority.

And the justification for all of this? Considering the party that David Cameron is leading, regardless of his attempts to renew its image; the disastrous effects of its politics in the 80’s on to the state schools and the general conditions for not so well off Britons, it is ridiculously arrogant for him to attack an art form, and then solve the situation by accepting cup of tea invitation from a rapper on a promotional mission – from another country.

And about Rhymefest, I must still continue, that if I am looking at this incident purely from business point of view, he made a brilliant move. To get this publicity with a price of one flight ticket is great. Everyone who is trying to sell records should have thought about that. I am not against him as such, although now that I have recogniced a few of his songs from the BBC Radio 1Xtra rotation, I find them to be awfully boring and disrespectful, which I cannot or do not want to justify with anything. But as far as I understand Rhymefest has not promised anything to any community in UK unlike Mr Cameron has.

It was not Cameron though who initiated this meeting. He had just worried over a radio DJ shouting out some people who are in prison and you know the general "it's not racial but this cannot be tolerated stuff". When hearing about that, Rhymefest had contacted him apparently so they could chat about it. And he said yes. Fair play. What I cannot understand is, that if he is so worried and if he is a politician who cares about the people - why did he not contact the elders of the British Hip Hop community to talk about it? 

Maybe David Cameron, as down as he is with the youth and their culture, could take few hours every week in his schedule to high five to these artists, instead of concentration of what happens in the streets of UK, its council estates and state schools. Is it life imitating art or art imitating life? Or is it just a photo opportunity – I think I know what I feel about it.

During the times of Labour Government attacking Moslems during their holy month of Ramadan and Conservative Party doing its best to not look conservative, the British politics are getting a bit much. It is hard to imagine that the two parties would be stupid; they probably are very smart. They just pick the opportunities that suit them and are popular. In that their ethics are much like the ones of American chart rapper.

15 October 2006

Birmingham reality

I have been meaning to go out and take some pictures of my new/old surroundings. I used to live quite near when I first came to country but here are some updated photos from Erdington, Birmingham. Not the most exciting environment, I must admit, but just to give an idea why I get frustrated so easily.
Nobody comes to Birmingham to be famous.

More photos from diffent countries, continents and times can be seen at two of my flickr accounts here and here.

Revolution will be sold in the shopping centre!

I have been wandering around Birmingham city center today for most part of the day. I find it to be amusing or sad. It really is completely depending the mood I am on. Now that I have had a good week, today the anniversary of the radio show, Public Enemy concert and people around me have just generally been nice, I felt amused by the capitalism taken to its extremes.

What is my definition of capitalism taken to extreme I hear you ask? Well I suppose it can be few things; one of them definitely is what I always complain about when you buy something and immediately lose any rights for anything but the really mad one is when revolution, rather its imagery and symbols are up for sale. And the thing about it is that they are not exactly on discount. There are few so called revolutionary artist, musicians, who record for major record labels (considering the kind of contract policies and the ruthlessness of the big companies, we should not hold our breaths with the revolution), and that is kind of contradictory to me but today I saw a kind of scarf that some anarchist, however the group is labelled, often wear on sale in an trend shop. And the price tag on it said £16! Now before you think that I looked the tag because I wanted to buy it – no is the answer – I was just so amused to see it there. Then again Che Guevara T-shirts have been a standard for a long time and there are times I feel that not quite everyone knows who is that mysterious character in their shirt; maybe if they did they would not even wear them.

Well if the idea of revolution has turned into the image driven; or rather its image has become a trend then what is this revolution anyway? How do we define it. Firstly – I must say as I seem to give some vibe and people make conclusions - considering me a revolutionary is the biggest joke ever, I have never felt like one and I do not feel I have ever done anything particularly revolutionary – mainly because I never wanted to. When I talk about revolution, I mean the Marxist/Leninist step towards their ideal society. I think it is rather hypocrite idea as people just are not that “good” that it would work. I was not born into a society where any other kind of revolution was needed anyway. I have never been oppressed and although I often say big words about crimes against humanity – what have I really done in order to earn the title revolutionary in a wider scale (even outside of this Marxist definition.) – I wish I had but nada is the answer my friends and that is ok. At least I know what I am not.

Then again there is another way of describing revolution. It is much more sensible to me. It is about the evolution of mind; knowledge of self if you wish. According to that I do my best to fit in the description. It is a strive for positive change and I am not sure how relevant the pace of movement is as long as there is some.

Well, my point today is that we do not need to worry about that. Why would we? It seems that revolution -well at least its imagery and symbolism are coming into fashion now that the pseudo-political science seems to be suffering from Michael Moore's absence. Just eat pot noodles for a few weeks, save enough money and get the attire that is needed to not to need to think. Hurray!

13 October 2006

Good times

This week on Tuesday I went to Wolverhampton. Not the most exciting place on most days of the year, actually as far as my experiences go, quite the opposite. But I did not go there to hang out but for a reason – a very good reason. Legendary Public Enemy, my favourite band was performing there.

It is always serious event on one hand; I want to be on a venue early enough to get on the front row and maybe buy a T-shirt but on the other, it is just the best fun ever. It was my third time of seeing them live. Other gigs have been in Helsinki and then in Dublin. All of these have been on the highest standard and two more recent ones with a full live band playing the tracks. The energy during the two and half to three hour concert is unbelievable. It is the most exercise I get these days and I am not afraid to admit that I behave in these like a teenage girl during the Westlife concert – what can I say.

Great concert and what made it even better was getting a shoutout from the leader of the group, MistaChuck D, and later on signed tracklist of that gig. I get very exited about things like that so good times. It has been a good week as I also have the first anniversary of the radio show. Cannot complain.
Here is the actual item - well scanned version - but if you click it you can see a bigger version.

History lesson - Middle East

I came across this today and thought that it was quite interesting. 5000 years of History in 90 seconds.

12 October 2006

Don't think about that - think about this!

Ask any comedian, broadcaster or a politician and they will confirm that timing is everything. Anything that happens or is being said has only half, if even that, impact without the correct timing. This has got nothing to do with the relevance of the incident - it is just a part of package we are willing to buy.

The other day a plane hit a skyscraper in New York. This time it was not an attack against anyone’s “way of life” or “values”, but apparently an accident. The person in question was not threatening one (possibly only having a beard during the play-off season) but rather an all-American sports hero so may he rest in peace. It is awful really, isn’t it?

Well this is where the timing comes in. What a strike of luck to the mass media who even at its most anti-republican moment stands firmly behind its agenda (then only serving the ones opposing its policies, yet often benefiting from its decisions). Now they do not need to worry about, say, 655 000 dead Iraqis.

It is true that this plane crash, as a tragedy, was great distraction to all the other things that are happening on the planet, but it is interesting to me how, for the first time that I remember after the much-talked nine eleven, the media and the politicians are making it very clear that this incident has not got anything to do with terrorism. Generally they keep their dominance up by creating a threat to everyone and then posing as the ones to lead the way back into the light – to the safe haven of “western” values only and global unity (terms and conditions apply – mainly that everyone needs to agree with these so called western values or otherwise they are considered as a part of axis of evil).

The power of media, as many media theorist argue, is not its power to make decisions for us. As in what do we think about something, but it rather controls our minds by introducing us the topics we should think about and what is our opinion may be shaped from the few facts offered and then the general feeling of it. And on the other side of things, all of a sudden, with a little help of Michael Moore, internet conspiracy theories and 24 hour news networks everyone can be a specialist in all that is wrong in the world. There is no focus in any of this. We just support “it” or oppose “it” and “it” can be anything. Choose your side and stick to it. It is like supporting a football team – you have to stand with them on good times and bad times or otherwise you become a traitor.

655 000 is a lot of people to die. It is 655 000 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. It is 655 000 teachers, shopkeepers, soldiers, cops and cons. It is 655 000 Iraqis and no matter what anyone feels it is 655 000 human beings opposed to two of which one was a baseball player. All of the sudden even in UK media pretends that it cares about baseball. And on the moment of truth 655 000 dead people are only a fraction of the poor people who go to sleep hungry and never wake up. Who are born without a chance because the “values” of west maybe supported a regime which is not capable to serve the people but which definitely agrees on selling oil and diamonds to the corporate west. Maybe they are victim of the draught maybe something else – like general bad governance.

The way I see it – anything these days that can take the attention off of the really relevant stuff is good enough for American lead corporate mass media. It is sad state of things when everything is supposed to be somehow so evolved. The mass media, indeed, in the new millennium, serves as the greatest Weapon of Mass Distraction.

8 October 2006

First anniversary of WSOM radio show

Next Saturday 14th of October marks the first full year of WSOM international hip hop show on Cape Town airvawes. Thanks for listening and thanks for Bush Radio for co-operation.

It's gonna be a great show with some new exiting songs that haven't previously been played on the show. Listen the show in Cape Town on 89.5 fm Bush Radio, or online worldwide at 2 pm (GMT +1, EST + 6).
Check the playlists of the previous shows and listen to some interviews from the show's weblog and if you want to contact me, maybe hook me up with some Hip Hop tracks that deserve airplay, write to mikmikko@gmail.com
Peace, Mik

A cool podcast

I just came across a cool podcast from Podnosh about the new Soweto Kinch record and his inspiration from the Birmingham B19 tower and its surrounding area. You can download the interview here and read more about it from here.
Check out their site for more podcasts about Birmingham, its people and stories.

7 October 2006

Few thoughts from the island.

The rain that is pouring down today is just ridiculous. It sounds like the biggest cliché, I know, but I am not saying that it always rains. But always when it rains I seem to be outside for one reason or another. And the public transportation is what it is, sometimes you are lucky and jump into the bus straight away, more often you wait but why is it almost non-existent when it is raining? – And why am I outside?

Besides getting soaked today the houses, the Victorian ones, are the only places on earth where it takes a week to get your laundry dry without the dryer and you must put a jacket on when you go in because it is colder there than outside (I have no idea how that is even possible).

That is all today. Have a good weekend and I will have a hot drink.

1 October 2006

Different musical experiences

I must say that I’ve been slightly vexed for missing two potentially fantastic South African Hip Hop gigs during past few months. Generally I would like to see Zubs and Proverb, the two artists in question, performing live wherever it could happen but that I had to miss them both on my home pitch. Proverb was performing in Helsinki this week and Zubs in August on a festival near capital. What makes both gigs particularly cool – or how could I tell because I was not there but at least potentially – is that they performed with live bands. I am sure that the ones who went were in for a treat and I am happy that these guys got up north to spread some love but the fact remains – I am still slightly gutted.

While I don’t really actively lose any night sleep over the missed cultural experiences I must say that I had some compensation when this Wednesday I saw Jurassic 5 performing live here in Birmingham. I have not been buying (or in any other way getting) their recent releases but they were good fun watching and the performance lasted for a good one hour forty-five minutes and the best part for me; I had a free ticket. I quite like free things and the fact that the tickets were almost £18 to begin with, I doubt that I would have invested that myself.

So some faith has been restored into the American Hip Hop music now. The next big thing is Public Enemy live gig in few weeks in Wolverhampton. If you did not know – I love Public Enemy. They are my favourite band of all the times of all the genres. I have tattooed their logo on my leg and when I see them live, like I have seen them before in Helsinki and in Dublin, I become like a teenage girl in Westlife concert. It is a bit sad but I suppose I have always lived my life quite strongly through some musical experiences; having that real life soundtrack on and that may have something to do with my behaviour.

My favourite thing about UK (and the list is very short) besides few friends and the fact that TV is always the first in the world with its documentaries is the music scene. I have been trying to get back on the track of things here and this time it has not really taken much effort because summer is so dominated by the festivals that not many big things have been released. Not the ones that would come all the way to Birmingham anyway or if it is local then no one will ever support it so I would not have heard about it. The truth here is that even in Cape Town local artist get much love from local or any media in comparison to Birmingham.

That goes to everyone except one artist – Soweto Kinch. He just released a new record Life In The Day Of B19, A (Tales Of The Tower Block). If you have not heard of him I am not going to explain much but recommend to check his resume and of course his music. It is jazz. A Lot of Hip Hop influences and rhyming happening there on the record but the in its full essence it is jazz and that is good. I think it is good because so much Hip Hop is influenced by jazz and many other things but this time it is the other way around. I like the record for many reasons; firstly it is good musically, secondly it is like a radio drama/jazz musical and thirdly, and maybe my frame of reference is too narrow, but for the first two reasons I have not heard anything like it before - and one more thing, it is based in Birmingham. I am very happy to hear something that is based in Birmingham – and that BBC programme about obese people did not count.

A Little Darker mixtape from Illastate Records (Akala and Ms Dynamite) is decent. A bit too aggressive at times although I really like aggressive music. Some of the lyrics made me a bit uncomfortable. Maybe I am just getting older and more conservative. Well at least older. Needs to be said that my favourite just now on this moment in the UK music thing is Lowkey. I sign out with his freestyle video – Peace and enough about the music now.

29 September 2006

Audio interviews from Welfare State of Mind

I have been having a bit of a writer's block recently but I have uploaded some interviews from the radio show online.

ENDZ talking about the Hip Hop in Cape Town

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Rushay about the Port Elisabeth, Eastern Cape and Hip Hop in general

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Emile and Jamayka from Conguering Lions part 1.

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Emile and Jamayka from Conguering Lions part 2.

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26 September 2006

Settling down for a bit.

I have been trying to settle down in Birmingham again – this time for the last time. It is the beginning, today was the first day to be precise, of the last year and it should be busy enough so time will very likely fly by.

I found myself a room. It is in the area called Erdington where I used to live for the first one and a half years of my UK era. It is nice room with a broadband connection and... well that actually is more or less all it has which is just fine.

I have not got anything insightful to say about anything so I finish this one here. Next time when it is not late at night and I am not so tired I write more.
View from my window

23 September 2006

Age is nothing but a number - except if you are old.

During the past weeks there has been several speeches given that have been worth making a note. United Nations met in New York and in UK the Liberal Democrats were having their conference. I was following both of the events a bit and something that really got me thinking was the leader of Liberal Democrats Ming Campbell’s speech. Or rather its outcome and reception. As for the content, I believe he was making more sense than any British political leader at the moment although it is obvious that it is easier to make sense in the opposition especially if you are not even the main opposition party, but I still do not believe that any of that is away from him. But the reception to a talk about welfare state was “he is such an old and boring man!”.

Ming Campbell is older than many political leaders in the country, born 1941, but since when has an older person been more stupid than a younger one? There have been some really mean comments made out of him this week by some people who would seem like sensible individuals but who have completely ignored the message and concentrated on the appearance of the speaker. This age racism has been quite sickening really.

One of the most celebrated world leaders ever, and my personal favourite, Nelson Mandela was 75 years old when he become a President of South Africa. He is still, fourteen years later and older, looked up to as a person whose opinions are valued and globally respected (with the exception of maybe some old rule Afrikaners and Bush administration) so what is this prejudice about then?

I am not comparing Campbell and Mandela as leaders or actually on any other level either. That is not even important at this point. The way I see it, is that age is life experience, life experience is knowledge and knowledge is power. It does not always work out in this straight forward way but I keep that as a general rule in my life.

I am not saying that leader should be old but maybe, just maybe, the glorification of youth has gone few steps too far in this country. UK has got an aging population, 16 % of all Britons are 65 years or older. That is almost ten million people in the country who can take all these jokes very personally.

Sad part of this whole thing is that Campbell and his advisors had taken it as their duty to try to make his image younger and cooler. He was talking about pop music, namely Arctic Monkeys, and other things along that line. That must have been the silliest thing in the whole conference. If there is something to be learned from the present administration of United States, it is ignoring and as they call it not validating things by commenting them. In Campbell’s case this would have been easy because unlike the things American government ignores, this whole debate has been completely pointless.

21 September 2006

TV Overdose

So I am back in UK, the hub mass communication and all of its side products on the current affairs and entertainment fields. And there has not been a lack of events taking place, which I am sure is always the case, but now I have been paying more attention to them – I have been watching television in other words.

Home secretary of United Kingdom, John Reid, gave speech earlier this week encouraging the Moslem parents to keep an eye on their offspring if they may be leaning towards the extremism – or terrorism – whatever they want to call it. That kind of statement, demand or just recommendation must have been made in the name of the so called war against terrorism, which probably justifies it to many people and Reid himself but is it not a bit blunt thing to say? It is understood that we live in this world where more and more people fall into being suspects for something but can you really make a sweeping statement that all the Moslems are suspected and they are responsible collectively of all these so called threats that so called west is facing and their parents should actually start doubting the children they are bringing up? I hope that this was not the intention of Home Secretary because then he could have said that all the Moslems are to be stopped and searched on the streets and the airports – which would actually explain some of the stuff you see in the security check points around the world – because “they” have been responsible of these acts that which have given the “west” an open cheque to continue doing what they previously did under the banner of colonialism. Quite frankly having lived here for few years now I am more afraid of the kids who have the St. George’s English flag in everything that they wear, drink and get rowdy. An awful generalisation from my side but I suppose it just reflects my fears in this society, which I have because I think they may hate my freedom of not supporting their football team. I suppose I should not put myself on that level but sometimes comparisons need to be made in order to highlight the ridiculousness of the statements being made in the politics and more so the actions that are taken on the ground level by the police officers, custom officers and even night club bouncers.

Now it was also in the news that the police officers who shot a Brazilian man who, they claimed had a bulky jacket and acted suspiciously and who later on was proven not to have a bulky jacket and did not act all that suspiciously, were pleaded not to be quilty. He paid the price of his actions that he did not take and choose of clothes which he did not wear by taking eight bullets.

My favourite unfunny joke at the moment is that the first British soldier has been convicted as a war criminal because of his inhumane treatment of people in Iraq. That is not the joke part, that is just sad that it has happened but now the British media, including BBC, talks like he is the first war criminal in the country ever. If that really is the way they see it, I would like to be fly on the wall when they teach history of past few hundred years in schools here. Big words from the country which first created the concentration camps.

But I really do not hate this country, it is not perfect but it is okay at times. It is just that it is often portrayed as some kind of Babylon.

President Bush was also giving his speech on the UN conference which I was watching live and I must say that first of all, he is still not very charismatic speaker and secondly the speech was very arrogant and resonated the old “white man’s burden” which again was a rationale explaining colonialism and imperialism. I do not have anything very intelligent to say about his speech but surely he makes it very hard to like him much considering his worries over the world and disregard of say hmmm… New Orleans.

I am not saying that there are not problems in some countries he named but then again as a devoted Christian, and as it seems that the whole world needs to pay some sort of a price of, not his only, but people who share his views, actions – the one who is innocent can throw the first stone.

BBC was first very careful to use the word coup of what is happening in Thailand but it certainly seems like one to me. Also the demonstrations in Hungary taking place at the moment it seems like we are living very unstable times. But I seriously doubt that this is something extraordinary. It has been happening all the time – maybe just in the countries that do not foster European tourists or which are not part of EU.

On the other end of TV entertainment, the reality shows which are ravaging my home country at the moment have taken a different turn in UK it seems. Many of them are actually struggling with rather interesting topics. Namely Ian Wright’s Unfit Kids in which the former football hero is trying to get obese children to learn team spirit and get a bit fitter at the same time. Last night he was going around to some places trying to raise some funds in order to have an after school programmes with the same idea. I personally think it is a great idea but as it is not very media sexy so it seemed to be hard to convince corporate businesses to agree on any kinds of donations. Well namely only Sony. Another one and straight after the one I already mentioned was Ballet Changed My Life: Ballet Hoo!, where kids from very troubled backgrounds were learning some discipline for life via learning ballet dancing. They are all well and good and also very admirable these projects but if only they could happen more widely and not all of them necessarily televised – so that people like myself could not feel the satisfaction that I am not that unfit or not that troubled and actually go and do something with our lives as well and stop moaning and being angry in the internet.

9 September 2006

8 September 2006

Sign Of Times

It is hard to put any kind of sensible description to all of the feelings that fill my existence at the moment. I suppose it is some strange mixture of melancholy, confusion of the past and hope of the future. I am in an airplane somewhere over the Namibian desert on my way to first Heathrow and then Helsinki; only to leave for Birmingham again in less than few weeks time. Although I am on the African airspace for the next hours - a whole night really - – I cannot say when will I be setting my feet on her ground again.

Not that I would say that I will not, because I am sure I will but the summer is over and not only was this summer a winter for me but I am about to start my last year of studying and then it will be the time for some big questions. What to do with my life? I love what I do but it does not pay any kind of rent so I must figure something out.

Leaving, after all these years of doing it, starts getting a bit old. - the goodbyes, the people that have been good to you but to whom you cannot promise coming back and everything that comes along. In this case of Cape Town I suppose I will always go back, even as a tourist, and see my people but after five years of not very stable life, I think I have seen it - unstable life, not Cape Town. Not to say where I would stop, or even for how long, but I need a room and the mindset that if I buy a book or a CD I do not have to think that what will I leave from my bag on return or will the weight of my luggage exceed the limits of whichever air company I am using. Or how do I get it to the airport at the first place.

Cape Town has been good to me. During the past eleven months I have spend half a year there. Not everyday has been sunny, weather wise or metaphorically, but there is something about that city. It is beautiful city, that to me is obvious and the mountain never fails to amaze me, but it is also a troubled one. Especially this time, maybe because of the season, many people around me were having trouble and on top of that the widespread poverty which is highlighted
during these times of widening gap between the different classes makes me feel sad. The street kids, the rape figures and murders. It is a violent city. But the spirit of its people is still something else. Last weekend my friend took me to Mitchell’s Plain, one of the biggest areas of Cape Flats, the poorer side of the city which does not see the tourists unless if they are on a tour driving through it, and I visited a the old neighbours of my friend. I was, like some many times before, asked the question “What do you think about Cape Town and South Africa?”. I cannot really answer very simply to it because there are so many sides to it, some of the very troubling and some just magnificent.

I learned so much again. Working with visually impaired people, Adrian and Leandre, was a great experience. It forced me to see things differently and think outside of the box. The other day I was helping them out with updating their blog; actually I was not helping but showing them how to do that by themselves. One is so used to looking at the computer screen and from there it is easy to say "“click that"”, but when you cannot see, or you can but they listen to what is happening on a computer with a help of a special software which reads the links and the texts with a very monotonous voice, you must first understand how it works, they how they are used to using computers and then how can you explain all this with out saying "just write on that big box on the corner". I was quite pleased when together we figured out the way of getting around all of the obstacles and now they can keep up their own stuff online.

I also learned that not being able to see really lets you to experience things on a different ways. I still do not know how exactly it works but I guess it is just sensing things the other way and picking up cues that to me just does not exist. Or they do but I cannot hear or sense them. Adrian always asked me "what’s that big grin on your face?”" or “"are you alright because you seem a bit sad?"” and not once was he wrong with it.

But this trip is now in the past. It saddens me a bit but at the same time, and on the very last moment, I was talking with a friend on a phone and was encouraged that it will be just fine. I suppose it will always be. On a very last moment I was also happy to realise that another friend had got her forthcoming album back on track and I heard a new song, recorded last night, and it sounded great.

I have this feeling that times are changing now more than ever before, maybe because the changes are happening within me, but I reckon I must get outside of South Africa and get some distance before I can truly understand that what just happened. Past months have been surreal time to me and I feel that I am being cryptic here but I must first understand the impact of many things before I can say more about them.

I am not sure what has been the purpose of this piece, or I know the purpose of it for me but for you it has probably been just emotional nonsense – and fair play, I just needed to get it out of my system. Next time something more sensible.

4 September 2006

It's been a while.

So I have not been writing in a while, actually not much after my trip to Tanzania, but it hardly means that nothing has happened. There are few reasons but I suppose the main one would be that I have worked with handful of other blogs for Bush Radio programming. Some of them are up and running and some just up, but then again I am hoping for the people to take the ownership of them and that may, in this very hectic environment, to take a while. I was thinking about it how the needs for the different skills are changing right here in front of our eyes when everyone get to learn some web skills on top of the radio ones. But Bush Radio by itself is not only a radio – nor its new blogs. Actually here is the place where I have noticed I can most freely be creative and try things out without anyone knocking my idea before I voice it. Sometimes I wish that lot of the people would have had some experience in commercial side, where the work in my experience is more robotic, so they could appreciate the opportunities here.

I am having my last few days left and trying to run things as much as I can. There are still few things to think about and quite frankly the facts that I am flying to Finland through Heathrow and with British Airways are creating some new challenges in packing. Nothing that I could not overcome though.

Check the links from below if you have much time in your hands.

18 August 2006

Tanzania fotos

I am back in Cape Town for three more weeks now and I have finally got the Tanzania fotos online. See them from here. If the slideshow gives you trouble as it was giving to me just then just see the frontpage.

11 August 2006

When anywhere, they do what the Romans (and other Europeans) do

If you are sitting next to people from the same country as you are, are you supposed to talk with them just because of that? I was sitting here on a computer last night and a Finnish couple was on the next one. I was thinking that never in a million years would I talk to them if we were in Finland so why should I just because we are half the world away. I think it is things like that, that our national identity is consisted of. But it was nice to see other Finnish people traveling outside of the usual comfort zone. I suppose I could have bigged them up for that.

The place where I am staying now seems to be found by quite a few Scandinavians. Well actually it is just one massive group of Swedish and Danish young people. They look very Scandinavian, which is not much of a surprise, with their beach gear and fashion which is reaching rest of the world probably around next summer. Finnish couple looked nothing like them so I have a reason to assume that there is a difference. I doubt that the difference would be that big somewhere in the Mediterranean though.

Last night having a supper, I was sitting in a next table to this crew and once they were paying the bill, an unfortunate event took place. There was some trouble with the prices and I have not got the foggiest idea who was right and who was wrong but I was quite embarrassed by the Danish girl in her early twenties who started to raise her voice to a local person probably twice her age. I know the culture we are dealing with in the north and I testify that it is lacking respect to the elders or to anyone one for that matter and I am probably as guilty of that as anyone, but here it is a culture, that one must respect people who are older, and evidently last night we were here, not in the northern parts of a different continent.

It is sad because I have seen enough European people traveling in different places and they often go to their destinations as some sort of an elite class of owners whose wishes must be followed or otherwise they will take their money somewhere else. The starting point has always been that we know more, our system is better and there is very little, if anything, that can be learned from locals. I am not talking about everyone, not even a majority, and possibly it is more the tourists than travelers who do this but you cannot expect to buy someone’s dignity with your Euros, Dollars or Pounds. The fact that people are poorer here does not give you a right to make them compete over your money. All of this can be put into just a one word, respect.

What is so ironic about this all is that most of the time it is the same people who then demand respect from the immigrants, travelers and foreign students when they come to our shores and are personally offended if their customs are not adopted. Strange bunch of people, us so called Europeans, aren’t we.

9 August 2006

Tanzania today

Walking around Dar es Salaam is constantly interrupted by people who want to talk with me. That is one of the best things while traveling as it gives me a chance to learn about the reality in the city. For the past few days I have been talking with an artist called Simba (means lion in Swahili) from whom I bought few paintings few days ago. Today we were having a long chat about lot of things including traveling; he was just going to Algeria and coming from Mozambique and the unavoidable topic of global politics. In my case most of the conversations start with people, without exaggerating every second on the street, noticing my tattoo which is in Swahili and then commenting it. I am getting super-props for it and I am taking them with open arms. I actually never realised that it is so visible but it appears that only the people so far have not necessarily understood it.

I also finally bought myself a battery, just an old fashioned one for my walkman radio and I have been listening to the radio for the whole of today. Some really cool stations like for example Radio One, which is playing a lot of Bongo Flavor, a Tanzanian Hip Hip in Swahili. Radio Free Africa did not impress me with anything else except a really cool name. The first and last song I heard from them was Shakira. Can someone please tell me where do I need to go in the world so I do not have to hear her music? I would like to give this station another go, but I feel that the risks are really high.

It is funny to notice also that South African music, mainly the more traditional end of Kwaito, is getting some support here. One day South African media answers to the love that it is receiving from the other countries from the continent. I may not be alive then but I hope it will happen.

I have been a supporter of Tanzanian band X-Plastaz for a while and I was really looking forward buying their record while here but it appears that it is impossible to find from Dar. I was told that I could possibly find it from Arusha, some 700 km away. I still must try to get some local music from this trip. It will be completely matter of luck whether I will find something that I like but then again, as my dad always says, it will be easier and definitely cheaper this week than the next when I will be in a different country.

On Saturday I will be going to a village of Mjimwema. It is on the beach side and I will spend my last days of this trip there. I was told first to go to the north side of Dar to another beachfront place but Simba, the artist I mentioned earlier, told me that it is a place for Mzungu. That means a white man, in this case I believe he was referring to whom I call Safari tourists, but regardless of what he meant I am still going to the cheaper place with apparently amazing views. I will go and check out the place tomorrow. It is no longer than an hour away by foot, ferry and Dala Dala (minibus taxi).

7 August 2006

Books and general mutual respect

Six days, of which few not feeling very good, and five hundred photos into my trip in Tanzania and I can safely conclude it to be one of the more hectic ones in my life. It is strange how after all these years, every time I make the same mistake of arriving somewhere hot and humid and start off by walking around for as many days as it takes for my body at each time to tell me to slow down. Maybe the next time I remember. To be honest it is highly unlikely.

I have been back in full effect again and today I did some book shopping. It was funny to notice that the fiction section in the bookshops was very small when practically almost every book on the shelves was somehow educational. I have never been a particularly big fiction reader, well seven years ago I was not very big reader full stop, but in comparison to the shops back home or in the UK this was quite nice change. Another thing that I was surprised about was that here people on the streets are selling books just like they sell souvenirs or newspapers. That was quite cool but I must also acknowledge that most books would be too expensive considering a local cost of living and the standard income. Maybe the school books are the exception and those seemed to be the ones mainly sold on the street.

I bought myself few books that I am about to start reading tonight. One of them is called “Africa from the nineteenth century to present – a History teachers’ handbook”. The title is rather self-explanatory and I am curious to learn how the history is taught here. All parts of the book are written by African writers and the book is published by Tanzanian Institute of Education so it should have a different angle than some of the more Euro-centric histories. It is left for my own judgment to decide what is real and what is not just like with everything. I would like to remind at this point that I do not believe in the truth as such because everything is just someone's interpretation of various facts. Just like my opinion is consisted of the things that I know and the way I put empahisis on each one of them.

Another one was a book about Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the father of the nation in Tanzania and his visions for the society and the last one is a study of the mass communication as a part of the development in Tanzania. That I will use for my university purposes as although it is about Tanzania and my study is based in South Africa but it was Nyerere and his government who facilitated the South African liberation movements (ANC and PAC) during the struggle so there may be some connections on that level and even if not, at least it is interesting and some general points about the media in African society probably will be made.

It must also be mentioned that staying in the UK, I can only dream about the people in general knowing anything, or even being bothered to pretend to be interested about, where I come from. Once a university lecturer asked me "where actually is this Finland?" (those were the actual words and I will never forget them) and on my first year I had to convince a highly educated person that Finland is a part of the EU. Here the first question is often something like “Helsinki or Tampere?”. Considering that not even many Swedish people can name two Finnish cities/towns it warms my heart. Finland and Tanzania are truly marafiki – Swahili for friends. Well at least on the government level but I must say that I do not know how many Finns could name even one city or town, or anything for that matter about Tanzania. There is no crime in that. All I am saying is I enjoy the mutual respect that I am experiencing here.

4 August 2006

Learning continues

After few more days and I have not got glue where to start. So many things are taking place here. I was just taking almost one hundred photos from a demonstration against Israel’s actions in Lebanon and Palestine. Surely some of those will be online in few weeks. I have just filled my memory card for the first time so I had to come to the internet café to save them so I can start from the beginning.

Yesterday was a nice day. I had a long walk, first to the village nearby entertaining the kids with my camera and generally just by looking different and then later on to the University campus. I have been staying so far outside of Dar es Salaam, as I mentioned in my earlier piece and as I am moving to the town centre tomorrow so I decided to spend yesterday just to get to know the not so urban side of the capital area. It is a beautiful place and everyone has been very friendly. Here it always ends with asking for a donation but most of the time it is reasonable and if for instance I have been taking pictures of the family and their yard, of course I want to show my appreciation. I must say that an exception to this rule took place the other day at the fish market where a homeless person demanded $10 for already taken picture and it was not even about him. I did not give him that, actually much less, but definitely enough to buy food which was his objective. I told him that I eat big lunch in a restaurant back home with that money. But you cannot blame the one who is asking but the one who is giving. I suppose for him it was worth the shot and surely someone will give him that money.

Yesterday walking from the village to the University of Dar es Salaam I realised how laid back the area is. Even the town centre is, although very busy, extremely safe. People are greeting me happily all the time and unlike in Cape Town there is no tenseness to mention of. I do not have to look over my shoulder more than anywhere in the world and it feels quite relaxing for a change. It is not only me either, but I feel that the local people are doing the same thing.

The definite downside of this country is the poverty. People really do not have all that much in general, which is the reason why they often ask for help and it is quite heart breaking at times. The first noticeable difference with Dar es Salaam and South Africa is that the wealthy side is not visible. In Cape Town when you are sitting in a minibus taxi packed with seventeen passengers in the traffic lights next to you is a big brand new expensive air-conditioned car with one person driving it. Here you do not see the rich people that often and there are no townships as such as shacks are more or less everywhere. This is not the most in-depth analysis of the country and its conditions, I know, but it is a view after the first few experiences.

Tanzania is a Swahili speaking country and this actually is my first time in one after taking a tattoo in the language. It only occurred to me the other day actually which is why I mention it. But here the language thing is very different to even Kenya. Here it is not only the main one but it is the most dominant language of communication. English is spoken commonly but the level of it is closer to Mozambique (which is a Portuguese speaking) than for instance Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana or many others. The country has 120 local languages and Swahili is actually a kind of umbrella language, kind of like the Tsotsi – or Township Taal in Soweto, which is understood by practically everyone regardless of their first language. I have been talking a lot with hands and felt like an idiot at times for not being able to communicate in Swahili and i have used all of my vocabulary so many times over and over again. Unfortunately it only covers the small talk. I must say though that somehow people can communicate if they so want even with very few common words.

I have been talking about the accommodation already but I do not think I mentioned that I am staying in a same guesthouse where the leading Tanzanian football team Dar es Salaam Simba sports club is having its training camp. I may be going to see their match tomorrow if everything goes smoothly.

Another short note is that I have officially had the best instant coffee ever over here. Locally produced and without any chemicals, the Afrocafe is something to take a sample home.

Last thing for now is that I was watching the TV the other night at the guesthouse and was sickened by the fact that VOA (Voice of America), the United States government propaganda broadcaster to poorer countries, was on. In USA their programming would be against constitution as far as I have understood as it is only representing the agenda of the government but unfortunately other countries that do not have the resources to produce their own programming, especially when I heard that in Tanzania less than one per cent of the households have TV, are often showing their freebies. After watching it a bit I felt that I was being hit in my head with a bible and hard. Not exactly a free media but the one to keep people down in certain areas and to promote the values of the free market Babylon as they were the only and the absolute truth.

That is the rant. Until next time.

2 August 2006

The first hours in Tanzania

After being in Tanzania for less than twenty-four hours I feel that I have learned few important things. Learning new things is what it is all about for me, so it looks like I am going to have good time here. The arrival already was great, as the first thing I saw was welcome to the Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere International Airport. I noticed that not only did the South African travel agency have old apartheid names for the South African airports but they also failed to recognise the new name of Dar es Salaam airport, which is now named after one of my heroes Mr. Nyerere.

Tanzania is hot and humid at the moment. It looks so different to South Africa and even compared to its neighboring countries of Mozambique or Kenya, which I have visited on my earlier travels. As I said I have only been here for a short moment and I cannot say much more about it yet but the city looks fascinating.

One thing that I had the time to notice is that the taxis, here known as Dala Dala, are even older than they are in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia or in any country where I have been taking them. By taxi I do not mean a cab but a minubus taxi filled with people. Here they have less seats so more people "can" stand so there is more space. Not the most comfortable yet not the least comfortable ride that I have ever had. It did rank closer to the latter though, but I do not want to complain too much about anything now.

I also learned that getting online may just be one of the best things for anyone who has a business to do. It depends a bit on what kind of business but for instance the guesthouse where I am staying for now is far enough from the town. Its location is not very good although the surroundings are very beautiful but in the country kind of way. The reason why I am there and why few other people seem to be there is because it could be found online and also booked from there. Many places on much better locations, possible even cheaper ones may be lacking business because they are not online and therefore cannot be found that easily. What I always do is to book online just for few nights to get started and then find a better place and that is what I am about to do now as well. But I must still say that it is just the location, other than that the place is really nice.

I also learned that the music I must look into here is called Bongo Flavor. I hope to find out as much about that as possible. Nothing much more for now, but surely I will be updating this space as the days go by. The photos may have to wait until I get back to Cape Town but they are on their way as well.