Sunday, 15 August 2010

Flavour Magazine interview Alexander Jackman

Dear Readers,

We caught up with the young but wise writer, as he refreshes us with his real-life story “I AM”.Giving priceless advice for any troubled person Alexander talks family, ambitions, life, and how we can make a change from even the worst situations.

He also reveals that Michael Jackson’s messages in music have helped him like so many people. So, let’s skip any small talk and get right into it and start making that change…

Want to read more click the link below...

http://bit.ly/d1deDL

Friday, 5 March 2010

I AM in Gambia - Day Three

Dear Readers,

9:30am - Addaya

We are cold showered or cold bucketed for some of the others and ready to go. I was introduced to a very sweet and strong mint tea for the first time, Addaya. I have to say this is the only tea I am prepared to drink from this point on. It is a perfect morning booster.

New Discovery

In the corner of my eye a young girl is learning to jump rope for the first time. She stops prematurely and runs desperately for cover knowing all eyes were on her. It is not long before she finds the courage to return. She removes her head wrap almost embarrassed that she showed everyone her vulnerable side in the first place. Not this time however, she is determined to show us how she views her new challenge. She is quietly focused on the rotating apparatus swaying backwards and forward in rhythm, waiting for that moment to leap. The silence is unbelievable not even a car or a motorbike can be heard, we are all in awe of this moment and all willing her to do well. She leans back for the final time before disappearing into the rope's playground, the dirt from her calloused feet barely have a chance to settle on the ground before discovering that she has made it. Her efforts are applauded but more importantly she is delighted with her new discovery. If she tries she will succeed.

Why are we here?

We are going for a drive to the National Youth Centre in Basse. The market on route is vibrant, there are plenty of children steering donkey carts, chopping wood, carrying water home and repairing tyre walls for motorbikes. I wonder what part of the day will they get to play? This is the reason we are here.

The first stop on the way is breakfast.

Toubab

I say Naka Subaseh (Oollof) good morning to the locals from the open back truck we are riding on. The sun is on our backs and it feels good to have the air blowing a cooling breeze onto our faces. Subonda Bengadeh (Mandinka) how is the morning? Children are running along the side of the vehicles with huge smiles shouting Toubab in unison. Toubab Toubab Toubab (pronounced tou bar). I am amused by the term and ask Souso, our driver, what they mean? He says they are calling for the attention of our white friends.


11:30am - The Great Abdourrahman

It did not take long for me to finish breakfast this morning I was eager to get to work. I noticed a young man prepare to sit next to me. We are having breakfast in a really tiny hut with very little natural light, there is no electricity in this building. But we are relaxed and even enjoying this new environment. What more do you need to have breakfast other than a table and bench?

I turned to acknowledge this young man's presence and was greeted with words in his native tongue. I nodded although I have to admit I had no idea what he was saying. I thought I had heard English words and asked him to repeat as I listened with extra care. My guide Souso was once again on hand to interpret having spotted my apparent difficulty. The young man had said that he hoped I hadn't felt like my breakfast was finished because there was his to share also. I returned my attention to him about to politely decline the offer to find he had already broken his bread ready to hand it to me beckoning me to eat. He had a bowl of beans on the table to go with the Tapalapa. Who am I to decline? We spent the next ten minutes in silence eating together a moment I will never forget. I recalled my childhood days when my brother and I used to fight over food. His name none other than the Great Abdurrahman.

Make our mark

We have a huge task ahead. Having already visited the site we know that the building has not begun. I am pleased because it means we can make our mark here. The creativity in this group is amazing. It is a common misconception to believe that a country needs great money and resources to develop locally. Great innovative ideas and the synergistic effort of the Basse people will demonstrate this notion to great effect.

We compiled a list of the items we needed to get started and headed into the village. Let the negotiations begin. Wheel barrow, shovels, paint and brushes, rope, tractor tyres, protective gloves, charcoal sticks were at the top of our list. Local children and young men who lived nearby were also invited to help the cause.

Task One Make the environment as safe as possible for bare footed children - clear the yard of all glass, debris and other hazardous material.

Task Two Make the environment an attractive and colourful play area - paint the great wall.

Defeats the purpose

Everyone is working tirelessly there is no stopping now, except for a water break. We use our teeth to pierce a small hole in these pint sized plastic bags carrying fresh cold water. A simple squeeze and you have this wonderful spray of water looping into your mouth. There is a commotion and the girls are running and screaming. Well there were no rules saying that we couldn't use the water for other devices such as water fights. There is a mad water frenzy and I do not expect to lose it is probably a good thing I didn't start with the paint it defeats the purpose of being here.

We are pleased with the day’s work and return to the hotel, where the children are waiting patiently.

Boys lost the battle.

We sit on the porch watching the children skipping playfully. The boys are certainly mischievous tonight having snatched the skipping rope from the girls. I think they were feeling left out and needed their attention. It does not matter what country in the world we travel to, the experience of children are the same. In a swift and defiant move, one of the older girls flew in to deliver a telling blow even waving an authoritative finger at the boys about the consequences of their actions. The boys dare not try that again this time they have lost the battle. I wonder if they have lost the war.

Chalk and trees

We decided it was time to bring the magic chalk out to play. The children abandoned everything they were doing, it was like a stampede of elephants. We made a dash for the trees in the hope that we were able to climb to safety. No luck. It was apparent that chalk and trees was the perfect icebreaker.

Young Elephants

Up until now we had kept a safe distance allowing the children to get a natural feel for us as newbies to their home. We got them to start drawing their shapes on to the trees. It was a great exercise, one that they loved. This was the moment I could take our games to the next level. Sensing that they were game for some fun I recovered all the chalk and ran into the distance closely followed by the young elephants.

17:00pm - A Single Plate

There is a new way to enjoy food. It is a symbol of the new family we have forged made up of Mandinkas, Fulas, Oollofs, Welsh and English. This time we are all to eat from a single plate.

Beyond the stars

I am fully nourished and pleased that the day has been productive throughout. One thing we do not have the privilege of seeing in London is a full complement of stars, I can see the Big bear, Orion’s belt and the North Star. What better way to end the day.

Monday, 15 February 2010

I AM in Gambia - Day Two

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Day Two in Gambia

11:00am
We met the children in the National Stadium of Banjul, the home of Gambia's national football team.

Dalasi
The children and young people gathered to shake hands. They have Muslim names: Samba, Ebrima, Mouloudumi, and Malal. The older boys are well versed in greeting tourists. Very charming and complimentary, they certainly know their sterling. Dalasi or jewellery will not go amiss either. Unfortunately I do not wear jewellery. I have little to give in that respect. Probably a good thing, they are not afraid to ask. Dalasi is the currency in Gambia.

Glue and Cotton
On the ferry we met some shoe shiners and menders. I remember as a child my grandfather's strict instructions were to clean and polish his shoes for work. My brother and I became skilled polishers. However, these men are better equipped; they also know how to mend shoes with glue and cotton. It is quite a handy technique for mothers and fathers whose children wreck their shoes on the first day of school. I have been told the cotton reacts to the glue to become like sticky tar, quite a remarkable adhesive I guess.

13:45pm

We arrive at the north bank region at Barra from the ferry.

I am African

The people greet us from all sides with smiles, waves and handshakes. We have taxi drivers, women and young girls who perfectly balance fruits and nuts on their heads. This is not the Cadburys kind.

I converse with a few gentleman of the Gambia. They say welcome to Africa my African brother this is your home. I say to them Abaraka and Jerrajeff which means thank you in Mandinka and Oollof respectively. There are at least five tribes in Banjul alone. I thank them for welcoming me as their own.

Bumpy Ride

We have a 250 mile drive to the next ferry port. The whole journey to the region of Basse is expected to take 8 hours.

I have been told the roads are bumpy and rough. I have been to Trinidad and Jamaica so I am accustomed to these road conditions or am I? I can say with absolute certainty that I have never experienced roads as difficult to drive on as the ones I am experiencing here. It may be necessary for smaller cars to provide helmets. I am in the back seat and I have been thrown everywhere barring out the window. I am enjoying this ride it forces you to find a seated rhythm as I notice I and my colleague are the only ones moving in the car.

Not only are the roads rough but it was also expected for the houses to be half built. The beautiful thing is it has not distracted the children at all! In fact, they play in these half built houses and on dilapidated roads in a way that allows their imaginations to complete the picture. I can see them playing in their palaces and on those world class football pitches.

Tapalapa

Some of the older children wearing blue uniform are now returning from school, the younger children are on the side of the road selling Nana, a bush plant used for tea. I have been given Tapalapa, a bread like baguette. For now there is nothing else I require I already have a two litre bottle of water. This side of the river is indeed hotter than the city of Banjul.

Stop or I will Shoot - Kunte Kinte

We were stopped at a checkpoint by a soldier holding what appeared to be an AK47 his finger non chalantly poised on the trigger. Our lives are at his mercy. He does not acknowledge the salutes of our officials in the car and instead inspects the vehicle with the authority he was given. There is little expression on his face and his focus undeterred. After a few moments he relaxes and motions for us to move on as his attention turns to the car behind. Holding a loaded firearm he is ready to initiate the first rule of engagement: Stop or I will shoot.

As we leave the checkpoint I am told this is the home of Kunte Kinte.

Inspired driver

A picture of President Obama hangs from where the rear view mirror is supposed to be. While the driver looks forward to a new direction Obama ensures everyone is still following behind. The driver is accustomed to the night and the bumpy road and I am certain he will deliver us safely.

20:30pm

Flip Flops

We have arrived in Basse and were shown our rooms at the hotel.

I am wearing flip flops for the first time since childhood. It was bought for 25 Dalasi so I can use in the shower. I immediately remembered why I disliked them as a child, the plastic between the toes is uncomfortable.

We are here

There are 7 of us, 3 women from Wales Freia, Jane and Lidia. Bernard from Kent with Graeme and Vince from London.

The journey has been a long one taking the best part of a day. That does not deter us we go to a local restaurant in the village to eat and drink. We are here in Basse finally.

I AM in Gambia - Day One

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Gambia.

video

3:30pm
Our plane arrived in Banjul at 3pm in the
afternoon.

The moment stepping off the plane signalled a statement of intent: We will work in 35 degrees of sunshine.

There is no time difference beteween Gamb
ia and the UK. This is the first time I have stepped off the plane not expecting any jet lag. Maybe the UK are running on Gambian time and not the other way round.

4:40pm
No sooner had I emerged from customs, I heard someone call out Mr Jackman. I turned to find a good friend whom I know back home. What are the odds? I knew she was in Gambia but I also know the population is 1.6 million!

8:00pm
The Gambians have welcomed me as their own. When asked my name, I replied Alexander.
Aha 'Alexander the Great!' they shouted.



www.alexanderjackman.com

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I AM by Alexander Jackman - OUT NOW

Dear Readers,

For an insight into the book and my great inspirations I have published the first of many promotional videos.

I hope you enjoy.

I AM by Alexander Jackman is available to purchase at all good online bookstores including Amazon and Waterstones.

Until next time.

Friday, 8 January 2010

I AM - Coming to a bookshop near you!

video

Dear Readers,

The wheel is already in motion. The team are really working hard to make this book available to purchase in a local bookshop near you. If you would like to see I AM in your local bookshop contact us at http://www.alexanderjackman.com/.

Until next time.

www.twitter.com/alexjackajk

www.myspace.com/alexanderjackman

http://www.alexanderjackman.com/