You can hear it in the salsa of Colombia, in the reggae of Jamaica, in the afrobeat of Lagos, in the goqm of Durban, in the samba of Brazil and the blues of Mississippi, even in the techno of Detroit, in Chicago house, in London jazz and hip hop, and on, and on – black music rules the world, and you don’t have to physically go to Africa to feel its heart beat, which is groove, which is the beat. That’s how I got to know this continent before I even set my foot on it. Or at least some essential part of it, which is its music, the way it moves, the way it grooves, the way black people swagger even when they walk, never mind when they’re actually dancing… I know you’re expecting me to write about some paragliding business, but I must first excuse myself and start with this essential info which is not in our photos, nor in our videos – it’s not, because to photograph it would mean to lose it. That moment when I, or you, or any other non-black person integrates among the people of some random black town or village, and mellows down with them, and feels the groove, and dances – white boy’s or white girl’s skin (or some metaphysical version of it) smoothly getting darker even under deep cloud cover, or in the even deeper night life below the tin roof of some shack that someone may call a disco, while another – night church. Night or day life, dancing hard or not, it is the same connection to the people and their culture and their vibe that is important, and I can’t be taking photos of these moments because to do so would be to lose their essence and their realness – but they, these connections with the locals, are the truest reason why I keep coming back to Africa – the birth place of black culture, and the graceful, shapely bodies where black culture dwells, and of course its styles, both musical and visual. Paragliding’s only my excuse to be here. But it’s a good excuse, because the flying here is both exceptional and largely unexplored, so let us in the next weeks show you some snippets of it, in our mostly visual but also verbal homage to this land, its skies, and to its people.
We’re spending the first months of 2020 in Kenya and Ethiopia with my good friend Niki Yotov (a.k.a. SkyNomad) – probably THE authority on paragliding in both countries. He’s showing me around, while we’re both trying to capture some of the most beautiful moments and places in our flying here – while XC guiding, tandem flying, and casually cruising around, looking for beauty. I hope you like our limited but keen homage to these places, and you one day visit, and enjoy.