Gam-TV

Hello all,

Thanks for all the emails…

Just a reminder to send brief messages via the blog as Email takes forever to read. It takes a minimum of 5 mins to open a text email. An internet cafe here shares a 56K modem between 6 or more PII computers.

Longer emails are cool and I enjoy getting updates from home.

downloading 2MB pictures is not going to happen please make ‘em really small so I can enjoy them. :0)

I pray all is well at home. Toady I spent catching up on journaling and decided I should getting old using “Gamnet” everything is called Gam- something here.

Peace,

Mike


Friday May 13th, 11:08PM

So guess who is going to be on Gambian national TV? Well, I hope you guessed me. The story starts shortly after m last journal entry. That night I was inspired to write a song. The next day we decided to began a morning devotional time and work on some music. After a short but intense rehearsal we sounded slightly less like a bunch of disorganized white musicians and took to the streets. We headed down to the shack and played for 20 some odd people. We were extremely well received and as we returned to our compound a man suggested we’d go on TV.

He told us of a national Gambian music show from 11-1pm. “Samdi __?!?__” This show is Gambia’s equivalent of the Late Show or Saturday Night Live and is one of the country’s most popular. Thinking little of it initially then reconsidered and thought it is worth a shot. So today after a second street concert (this time under ‘thee’ Mango tree) we took off to Westfield to talk to a local radio host about being on the radio.

Aside***

One major advantage of being in the Gambia is celebrities really aren’t and making everyone accessible. With the additional advantage of being a toubab, we are assumed to be of star caliber. (We will be doing a lot of practicing over the next week)

**

Walking into the station we were greeted by two of Gambia’s hottest DJ’s as they were leaving the station. After some brief conversation we were offered some live airtime on DJ logic’s Thursday show. We then asked for directions to GAM TV. And after a hot 45min walk we were at the head office of the nation’s major broadcast headquarters. After a brief conversation we discovered we were really at the wrong location. But surprise, surprise they were just on their way to the other campus. (Which was directly beside our original starting location) We were quickly introduced to some of the head producer’s of Gambia’s hottest TV shows and they immediately were interested in having us on the program. They made some calls and were ready to have us on tomorrow. Caught off guard I suggested next week would be a better option, as I thought we better start to practice.

Other exciting events included a talk with Fajara’s Maribou. I even invited him to the see the Jesus Film. That would be something else. I also have been practicing my Wolof and had some more Sengalise tea on my round yesterday afternoon. The stuff kept me wired for 4 straight hours.

Tonight I went running with Omar. He showed me his pictures from his racing prime (one picture was of him winning the Gambian national 400m race by 30 some odd meters. He was 1 second off of qualifying for the Olympics. Even at night running was extremely hot, it was a good thing Omar had eaten too much for dinner it slowed him down enough for me to keep up but it felt good to be running again. I’ll see how my body feels tomorrow.

Monday May 16, 8:02 AM

Saturday I vented on a Tanka with Ali to Banjul in order to meet Maurice, the director of the choir. I had lots on my mind, we had just had a team meeting which we were frilled on all the progress that was made. Through blind contradictions and irrelevant preconceived comments, all the ministries I was involved in was on trial.

“What is the point of being of TV?”, “What long term benefits does it hold?”, One week is lots of time… You don’t have a lot of time so you don’t want to waste any time.”

I had to defend everything I had spent my last week working towards. It took a lot of control not to leave the meeting with out ripping off someone’s head. By the grace of God I was able to hold myself together.

However, after a brief rant on a park bench Maurice met us at the Benjul arch and all anxiety quickly faded to the back of my mind. Our first stop was the Catholic Church in the center of Banjul. A simple but rustic church with a beautiful wood ceiling and stellar acoustics, I hope to use it for recording the choir.

He took us to his simple bachelor suite and were warmly welcomed by a group of youth that hang out outside in his hall. We had some tea discussed plans for working together exchanged our musical and religious histories. I am really excited about working with him. He his extremely gifted and dedicated he has the vision of building a musical school to develop musical directors and musicians. It is hard to put into words how much fun we had but it was definitely a highlight of the trip.

After our discussion we ventured off to the Banjul market. This was my first Gambian market experience and it was surprising how much it reminded me of Metrotown. Granted it was a whole lot less flashy and stunk of rotting fish heads; however, the basic materialistic presence and trendyness were more than evident. For me it is becoming more apparent that people, African or white blooded Canadians, are people and at the root have common desires and struggles which are really just shaped by our culture.

We jammed into a Tanka and I quickly realized that the back seat is not the best place to sit for a tall guy such as myself. After introducing my head to the roof a couple of time, we stopped at Westfield for food. I can remember home at home I felt to the typical hassling of the taxi drivers, people driving every which way and the call “hello toubab”, almost to the point where it will be weird to returning to Canada.

Saturday night we had our Jesus film at Gary and Pam’s. We had a musical presentation that reminded me of many gigs back at home, empty chairs and a dozen people. (more evidence towards the similarities of our cultures) By the time we had finished our set the courtyard was beginning to fill. At the end of the film, I made arrangement to answer questions of a young guy named Jo Fatty, I will be meeting him this morning at 10am.

Sunday morning three of us headed back to Abiding Word for some crazy fire preaching Pentecostal action. After getting lost in the streets of Seracunda, we finally arrived. I spent most of the service processing my thoughts over the last couple of days and work out a rough guide to the my week. I also decided I needed to sit down and talk with leadership about the ministry I was involved with. In heart I knew we held the same goals but where just not catching ourselves heading in the same direction.

After a chaotic adventure home, where we somehow managed to take a 100m tanka trip, I sat down with Steve and got on the same page. It was such a relief to unify our thoughts and visions that were never really that far off.

The rest of Sunday was spent working on a single we hope to have ready for the radio on Thursday and tripping down to the Elton station for a flat of Eggs.

The problems with recording in Africa are space, power and Africa. I encounter all of these as I took over the girls bedroom to lay down some scratch track over the sounds of crying babies and birds I soon looked over to see smoke rising up from the my headphone amp. After a brief autopsy I found a power bus cap blown, undoubtedly caused by a power spike. It is my hope that is the only damage that was incurred to the devise. It definitely awoke me the realities of working with expensive gear in a primitive third word environment.

Thursday May 19, 10:19 AM

Monday morning after devos, I ventured off to meet with Jo and Ishmaela (the watchman at Pam and Gary’s). We spent three hours on a wooden bench under a shady tree talking about religion, marathons, Wolof, family and culture. I can type into words how real the experience was. I will meet with Jo again on Friday to go to the beach and continue our discussions.

Lunch at McFati’s (not Mcdonalds there is none in Gambia) gave me time to reflect and prepare for a crazy afternoon of recording.

The initial session work went fairly smoothly with a few minor computer crashes. However, as I was finishing the final BGV tracks, the entire Cubase file became corrupted and would not load. The full gravity of the situation did not sink in until I had tried a few simple fixes, rebooting, opening a few other files, moving the directory ect… I then spent 10 mins silently staring at my computer using every ounce of strength not to hurl it to the ground for a 30 second curb stomping session.

By the grace of God I found an orange in the fridge. I don’t think I have ever thrown and object so hard in my life, I felt my arm come out of its socket. I grabbed a pineapple Fanta refocused and proceeded to reconstruct the project from the fragmented audio files. – (all the audio file still existed on the computer I just had to put them together, much like a jigsaw puzzle) After a three hours of intense thought and concentration we were up and rocking.

The evening was spent singing with Maurice’s choir. For those who know my rhythmic incompetence, you can just begin to imagine me trying to sight-read African syncopation in a language that is not even Wolof. Never the less, being vocally dwarfed by an authentic West African baritone was an unforgettable experience.

The musical team returned to hear that Steve had been mugged and had his passport stolen; another rude awakening to the reality of being in Africa. (Not that this doesn’t happen at home) Although shaken, Hewko was not noticeably phased from the experience.

After a late night of programming and mixing Tuesday morning came as a rude awakening. I find I can’t keep my crazy schedule and sleeping habits that I do in Canada. Having no power at home I consumed the battery life in my notebook and external cell. I took a nap in hopes the power would return for the night. We were scheduled to work with a children’s ministry and show a Jesus however due to issues with GNPT (Gambian no problem time) our driver didn’t arrive until the an hour before we were scheduled to be at the Jesus film.

So we piled into a van with our gear and traveled to a village 20 mins south of Brikama. The smell of cachou fruit (the nuts grow around the top of the fruit) excitement of children greeted us as we drove into the dusty town. After meeting some of the local Mandinkas and trying to learn a few phrases of second African tribal language. I took the opportunity to draw some water from the well and teach the kids how to play hopscotch.

We did another short musical presentation before showing the film. I spent the majority of the film talking with Benjamin a native of Sera Leone he came as a refugee to the Gambia. He has an amazing passion for sharing the Gospel with children and villages. He shared stories of how he got approval from the government to teach in school. On any given week he shows the film 8 times a week. He lives with two children off of the meager schoolteacher’s salary of his wife and partners with Gary and Pam for larger events, as his only equipment is 27” TV and a generator. It is my hope that I can arrange to hook him up with some better equipment before I leave.

After the film, people stayed for prayer and for more information. (about 50 in total) Benjamin will be returning with a small to do follow-up. People are hungry for truth in this region. I hope it is found.

On a quick aside, I had an discussion on the drive home regarding Benjamin’s ministry. From it I derived the following; Do not ever let me pass unfounded judgment on someone’s ministry. I was dishearten to listen to someone so blindly reject the ministry of a man who has devoted his life to the service of the Kingdom. Add to my frustration the individual offer little in the way of a position correction to the situation other than to just ignore it. I do not want to let my heart become so jaded to intensions of people that I ignore the spirit of God.

Well, yesterday was my Birthday. I spent the early morning finishing the mixing on Mango Tree Revival’s first hit single “Message of love”. It sounds really good (at least throught the headphones I mixed it on)

I spent the morning with the Sisters of Charity who work with malnourished and sick children who cannot be supported by their family. The play area filled with 25 odd kids smelled of puke and urine however, I could not have thought of a better way to spend my birthday. I spent my time entertaining kids with a stuffed elephant singing James brown, Justin Timberlake and Grishwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (the elephant part, you would have loved it Jord). At several moments, I found myself at the verge of tears along with my other co-workers. After watching the kids “eat” (aka. smear rice and sauce everywhere but in their mouths), I paraded a stampede of naked malnourished children down the hall to a line of kiddy potties. Today I gained a whole new respect for the woman who have dedicated their lives in service of these kids. After a long walk home due to another Tanka mistake, Hewko and I went on a Tanka loop to three radio stations.

It was great hanging out with him as he shared some of his vision for CVM. Although I styles are quite different I have found it is a great privilege to serve along side of him.

My meeting with Gabriel and Maurice was cancelled due to Gabriel’s busy day. However, we still made it out t choir practice and I once again sang with the choir. There was no power so the practice was by candlelight. I finally started to catch on to some of the rhythms and was able to sing along to the song we were rehearsing last time. The guys in the choir are a lot of fun and can really belt out those low notes in comparison to my weak voice. Maurice is also an extremely talented choir director. We practiced “How great thou art” which we will be singing at Mass on Sunday with the choir and finally the choir blew me away by singing me happy birthday. Unreal.

I returned to find our house decorated for a small informal party for Jana and I. (Jana’s birthday was the 16th). I was read the cards that were sent along with me and posted the picture of Golden Ears up by my bed. Thank you. :o)

Oh ya just am update on the TV... because of teh football we might not be on until we get back from Soma. However, we are on the radio tonight at 11Pm Gambian time (close to prime time for them) it is called city limits radio form westfield gambia. Not sure if they web cast. (4pm PST)

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