Archive for June, 2009

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 29-06-2009

Books I have recently read (or at least skimmed for detail):

Books I have read

Books I am in the process of reading:

Books I am reading

All this is for my thesis, which I’m writing with the Centre of West African Studies at Birmingham. As we are returning to Africa next month, I’m frantically reading lots of books for my research, which I won’t be able to do in Mali. The university gives me a 17 book allowance and those I can have for several months at a time. Still, I’d rather not take any out to Africa and risk posting them back, eh?

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 26-06-2009

Yesterday, one of the major icons of the popular music world departed from us.

Although Michael Jackson somewhat lost the plot in more recent years, songs like “Billie Jean”, “Thriller” and “Man in the Mirror” will remain in the hearts an minds of humanity for many decades to come. Some of his lyrics were very meaningful and challenged us all to make a difference to others:

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me and the entire human race
There are people dying
But if you care enough for the living
Make it a better place for you and for me

Another such song said:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and make a change

However, my two lasting memories of Jacko have to be (i) His moonwalk, something I’m still known to attempt at parties now and again and (ii) His pop video of “Black or White”, which shows Michael ‘getting to grips with ethnic art forms from around the world’ (a particular passion of mine, as you know!) Also, the face morphing towards the end is much more ingenious than it is ever so slightly scary. It therefore remains my favourite pop video of all time. So have a watch and remember the ‘good times’ when Jacko produced some of the best music, dance, lyrics and vids of our generation:

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 23-06-2009

One careful owner…who sold it to ME!!!

Peugeot 1

Seriously, I’m not sure how many owners off hand, but it’s in excellent condition for its year and has a low mileage. If you look at the previous blog post, you’ll see that our car for Africa has already departed (and is probably on the ship right now). We now need to sell this Peugeot because (i) we leave in 4 and a bit weeks’ time and (ii) we need to pay for the rest of the Montero and its shipping.

Peugeot 2

Here are the details:

Make & Model: Peugeot 206
Type: 5 door hatchback
Colour: silver/grey
Year: 2000
Engine type: Diesel
Mileage: 44,000
Condition: very good
Price: £1995

I’ll be putting it on Ebay in a few days’ time if I get no takers via the blog. Drop me a line if you’re interested, or call me on: 07500 268021.

Peugeot 3

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 13-06-2009

No, not us, the VEHICLE!!!

We don’t leave for another six weeks, but we’re giving the car a head start so that – all being well – it may even arrive in Bamako before we do! It’s a 2003 Mitsubishi Montero, 2.5 litre turbo diesel, 7-seater with tinted rear windows and NO sunroofs
(= better for Africa). In most parts of the world, it’s called a Pajero, but as that’s a rude word in Spanish, it is usually known as a Montero in the USA/Europe and as a Shogun in the UK. Montero means Mountain Warrior, so let’s hope this one holds out in Mali’s more high-altitude areas!


“Why not another Land Rover, Rob?” I hear you all cry. Well, (i) parts are cheaper and easier to get for a Mitsubishi (and there’s even a dealer in Bamako),
(ii) these vehicles are known for being reliable and durable (iii) it was the only vehicle we saw that was exactly what we were looking for and (iv) when it comes to sell it, Japanese cars are much more popular in francophone Africa. Also, remember the problems we had with the old Landy in Benin. Click here, here, here and here for just a few stories

On TUESDAY evening, friends from church came round to view the Montero before its departure for sunnier climes, and also prayed for the vehicle’s safe transit and reliability on the field (see top photo).

Then on WEDNEDSAY, Lois and I loaded the vehicle with belongings. As it will be travelling in a container, that’s fine and everything should be safe (we hope!) Meanwhile, Micah has to survive his last few weeks here without his drum kit, but at least will get three years’ use out of it in Mali.


Then on Thursday, we drove over to Essex in convoy and dropped the vehicle off ready for shipping. It should go some time next week. Here it it waiting to go (NB ours is the one in the middle, not the Land Rover to the left!!)


Once it gets to Dakar, it will then make the 777 mile journey from there to Bamako by train. Should be interesting; here‘s an interesting article about this rail journey, from someone who was in it when it broke down (and also mentions Mali’s road conditions too!)

So, if you are able to say a quick prayer for the safe travel of our car – both by sea and rail – then please do. And watch this space for news of its arrival in the coming weeks! Thanks for reading.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 10-06-2009

I have two mates called Bill, and last Friday I had the privilege of meeting up with both of them in London:


Here we are at the Founders Arms pub by the Thames in London – my favourite summer-time pub in the capital (in winter, I prefer Waxy O’ Connors, which I blogged about here). The Founders Arms was all the better for now serving banana bread beer, an unusual brew, but great for banana-lovers!


Now, Bill had never met Bill before (nor Bill Bill, for that matter), so it was nice they could meet their respective namesakes via a mutual friend. Big Bill (or beardy Bill if you prefer) is from the USA used to live in Cotonou, where he and I would often enjoy jazz, movies and chatting in German together. The Bill in blue (who works for London Transport) was at college in Ripon with me back in the early 90’s and we have remained good friends ever since.


My Friday evening finished in ‘style’ with a curry in Brick Lane with Big Bill and another old college mate. This is one of the best places in England for a curry (and so many to choose from). It reminded me of Africa in the way that everyone was outside their shops touting for business:

“Come and have a delicious meal here sir!”
“No thanks, mate, we’ve just eaten one down the road.”
“Have another one please!”

On which culturally-enriching note, I will love you and leave you. Thanks for reading!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 08-06-2009


I read Pete Greig‘s book, Red Moon Rising back in 2006 and it totally blew my socks off.

It tells the story of how the 24-7 Prayer Movement came into being and how it spread across the entire globe. Now, Pete’s posting videos on YouTube, which will move more and more Christians to pray continually for Europe and the World. Here’s his latest one, which particularly refers to the current state of politics in the UK. Watch it and be inspired:

Other books by Pete which come highly recommended are: The Vision and the Vow and God on Mute. What are you waiting for? Read the books, watch the vids, pass them on to your friends, get praying!

“Prayer moves the hand that moves the world”.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 01-06-2009

A recent scientific attempt was made to combine all the worst and most irritating elements of ‘bad’ music to create an overall piece which is horrendously irritating (but somewhat entertaining at the same time). Elements include:

* Oom-pah style rhythms.
* American kids choirs singing ‘praise-style’.
* Country music.
* Discordant, high-pitched singing (Schönberg style)
* Bossa-nova rhythms and cheesy flute melodies.

Now, I agree with all of the above, but the piece also includes:

* Bagpipes
* Pipe organs
* Harp glissandi

All of which I personally rather like! There you go. Anyway, don’t take my word for it; you can listen to this amazing and dreadful piece on-line. Click here and don’t blame me if you’re in a bad mood by the end!