Ideas and dreams have never been lacking, but money, unfortunately, invariably has. The following projects are currently in gestation. Their realization, of course, depends on securing funding, as I've no other source of income than commissions from Rough Guides (which barely cover my travelling costs), nor any rich aunts or uncles about to bequeath me their fortunes! My modest style of travelling and living, however, means that costs are minimal by any standards.
The Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
My Kenyan website, www.bluegecko.org/kenya, is currently one quarter complete. I have all the primary materials required, but need modest funding to finance the sixteen months required to bring it to completion (2000 pages, 1500 images and 40 hours of music). See the formal project proposal for more detail.
Rhythms of the Ancestors - Music from the soul of Africa
A mammoth, literarily adventurous and "experimental" work that has been almost ten years in dreaming, to trace the genesis and development of the traditional music, cultures, histories and life-cycles of central and western Africa, from the interior to the Atlantic coast. I distance myself from the "experimental" tag as this has been the style of my personal writing for close to a decade. The book will be written, at least partly, in a musical language reflecting and expressing the music described: whether hypnotic, soothing, transcendent, confusing, chaotic, sombre, exuberant, and so on. Time, book size and funding permitting, the book (or a second volume) will continue tracing the development of African music and cultures across the Atlantic in the Americas, picking up on Haitian Voodoo (unsurprisingly similar to Beninois Vodun), Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Santeria, through Jamaican reggae and US Jazz to present-day Jungle and Drum 'n' Bass, in many ways completing the circle.
A blend of travelogue and "experimental" work on cultures and music. Both book and journey trace the course of the River Niger, from its sources in the Fouta Djalon Mountains of Guinea-Conakry, through Mali, Niger and Nigeria and on to the Atlantic at the Bight of Benin. The travelling and research for this book, for which at least six months will be needed, will also be used for the first part of the African Music book described above. The format will be travelogue interposed with vignettes of prose poetry expressing music, rituals, legends and certain experiences.
The Gentle Shore - Tunisia
I started work on a book concerning a search for Tunisian identity between 1994 and 1997, which eventually became shelved in favour of working on my website concerning the traditional music and cultures of Kenya. The project needs a year to bring to it to completion.
Primarily a music recording trip to the Hadzabe and Sandawe tribes of Tanzania, for the purpose of creating audio CDs, a CD-Rom and a book about these rapidly disappearing ancient cultures, and to create a broadcast-quality film documentary. Both tribes speak languages characterized by clicks, like the Khoisan spoken by the San ("Bushmen") of southern Africa, and like the San, have strong traditions of rock painting. Sadly, the Sandawe capitulated to modern pressures, notably Christian missionaries, in the 1960s, and have lost much of their traditional culture as a result. The Hadzabe, who number only 500 to 2500 depending on how you count, have resisted so far, but it seems inevitable that their way of life will become untenable within the next five or ten years. Copyright over recorded works, and profits thereof, will go directly to the performers and their communities. All texts will also be proofed by locals.
A World of Rhythm
Production and writing in book and exhibition form of a collection of mainly abstract photographs from the last fifteen years, arranged in universal themes, with equally abstract accompanying texts. The collection will also be made into a multimedia "journey" accessible through the internet.