Twins on Tour and the Ace Cook Surfing Through Africa on a cosmic wave. Part 7: SHOOTING THE CURL to ghana and other distractions

At the start of the trip, Joel kept drawing up a daily schedule, plotting out the drives and the stop overs. Although very much free-form by design it had a few (supposedly) hard-wired deadlines and objectives.

Some of these revolved around the twins, whose year was meant to be one of learning about and engaging with other youth on the continent. The initial meetings, though, were somewhat contrived, and although there were rich encounters they simply were never organic enough to become "real"

Other targeted activities were linked to SDI's advocacy for clean and safe cooking in slums. The intention was always to hold clean-cooking competitions in informal settlements along the journey, but these were restricted to a total of four in number and were not directly linked to the youth and therefore to the goals of the Twins on Tour.

When we got to Keetmanshoop in Namibia (four weeks into the trip) and we had to endure a meeting with a total of three young federation members on a bitterly cold afternoon, we realized that things needed to change drastically.

It was Wise-O who nailed it when he surveyed the forlorn scene and said: "I don't know much about this NGO shit but if you ask me, if I wanted to get the youth to participate I'd show movies in that hall every Friday, get a disco or something and run a bar. The kids would be there in their hundreds."

And that was when we linked the cooking events to the youth, converted them into festivals (without the bar) and brought the year into brilliant focus. The number of cooking festivals almost trebled - with eleven in total - youth were brought to the forefront, and the team found its mojo.

Clean cooking, the everyday life of slum youth, moments of celebration, always bracketed by and contrasted with trips to the African wilderness. We were truly surfing the cosmic wave.

But the cosmic wave does not always approach in a perfect set of clean breaks. All too often the cosmic wave peaks and then breaks left and right. That was when we had to change course or even split up and ride the cosmic wave in different directions.

The first break in the cosmic wave came when the SDI alliance in Zimbabwe called for their cooking event to be brought forward by a week, to avoid a clash with the proposed national elections. As a result Gabba and Wise-O flew out of Windhoek less than 18 hours after our arrival. Destination: Harare.

There they met up again with Stevie who was travelling with an old schoolboy friend of theirs.

The event was held on the Federation premises in Dzivarasekwa Extension on the outskirts of Harare

This time Gabba got to be one of the judges

And Steria Mukaziyo was chosen as SDI Masterchef in Zimbabwe

A few weeks later and Gabba and the Ace Chef had to return to Namibia, where the alliance had requested their own competition but then failed to organize it properly.

In the end it was succesful and Ernestine Honga was chosen as SDI Masterchef Namibia.

And Gabba sampled Mopane worms

Just to ensure complexity and diversity we decided to head off to West Africa - to Ghana to be precise. This time the lot fell to Morgs to travel with the Aussie Ace Cook.

Ghana was full of surprises but the Ghana Federation was true to character: organising the entire event themselves, considering the SDI team as just another bunch of "Obronis", keeping them waiting and uninformed, but making sure to plaster their photos all over the place.

And of course there was the farewell surprise - to be left alone for eight hours, watching a festival, comprising thousands of people running round and round a small track in the blazing sun.

Accra Ghana, full of vibrant colours and new experiences.

There was to be one major lull before the sets of cosmic waves rolled in again. This was towards the end of the tour when Oom had to go to India to pay his last respects to his beloved friend and colleague, Jockin Arputham, SDI President.

The trip got off to an inauspicious start when a team of South African slum dwellers (seen smiling here while waiting in Dubai to board their plane to Bangalore) were denied entry into India by pedantic and obdurate immigration officers.

Oom got through, for no apparent reason other than his white skin. India, the father of anti-colonial struggle, had reason to be deeply ashamed. But bureaucracies are as heartless as they are mindless.

Oh and I almost forgot: the twins got a chance to go off tour to spend their Dad's 60th birthday in Mana Pools and drive up and down the Harare/Chirundu road, in Al Qaeda-like disguise.

and then join their mom in Zanzibar, where contrary to one bigoted fool's opinion,

they ventured outside and met lots of friendly Zanzibarians. After that they returned to Lusaka, Zambia to meet up with their friends in the Zambia Youth Federation.

Visiting Jonathan (Zeus) at home. (How can one miss the prevalence of Western fictions?)
In the meantime Wise-O and Oom drove from Lilongwe, Malawi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in search of lions but more about that in a future instalment.

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