Thoughts & Insights
OUBEY GOES AFRICA – How a Seemingly Improbable Story Came True
One and a half years ago I tried to find a suitable partner for a stopover of the OUBEY Global Tour in Africa – all in vain. At the beginning of this year I put this idea on the back burner. I hadn’t completely abandoned it; I simply didn´t pursue it actively anymore.
And now I’ve just returned from a week’s trip to Uganda where I went to do the groundwork for the next stopover of the OUBEY Global Encounter Tour.
During this week one of the questions I was continually asked was how I hit on the idea of traveling with OUBEYs art to Uganda in the first place. Two and a half months ago the thought of taking OUBEY to Uganda would never even have crossed my mind, so this question was pretty intriguing to me as well.
The story that goes with it is a case in point that shows what can happen when you put your faith in the magnetic powers of existing energies to give what is potentially possible the chance to become reality. And not the least of the reasons why I’m giving this story in the abbreviated version below is that I hope it will encourage others to rely more on the potential inherent in happenstance and less on the supposed power and strength of planning.
Two months ago in a break during the Freedom Forum in Oslo a man who had known me and the OUBEY MINDKISS Project for the past year, was talking to another person at the conference about the MINDKISS Project – a man called Eirik Jarl Trondsen. When I returned to the auditorium after the break it so happened that this Eirik was sitting directly behind me in the next row. We exchanged a few words, I gave him my card and a small leaflet about the project. That was last we saw of one another at the conference.
But a few days later I received an invitation from him to come to Uganda. He had studied the website of the OUBEY MINDKISS Project very attentively and found that a visit from the Global Encounter Tour would be a sound and beneficial proposition. Eirik has lived in Uganda and Kenya for twenty years, and for many years now in the two countries has been running the Affirmative ArtProject which he himself initiated and which aims to help young people in Uganda and Kenya find a way out of the general hopelessness of their situation by developing their own personal perspectives through the self-discovery and self expression of art. As the MINDKISS project tends to seek interdisciplinarity more than closeness to other forms of art, at first I was rather skeptical. But when I saw the Affirmative Art Project’s website, my skepticism immediately turned into curiosity and empathy.
So I took up his invitation. All the time that remained for our preparatory meeting was a short time window in the last week of July. It was one of those decisive moments, a “now or never” moment as I called it. So I managed to tease out that last July week from my crowded calendar, booked the flight and the hotel, and at midday on 26 July found myself in Entebbe, Uganda’s former capital. Not knowing whom I was going to meet there and uncertain of what lies ahead of me. In Africa for the very first time in my life. Kind of an adventure.
My (self) confidence was richly rewarded. Eirik was and still is not only personally thrilled by the idea of this collaborative venture. Prior to my arrival he had also aroused the interest of the NIAADand the Makerere College, two potential local partners. In the intensive meetings and talks between him, Dr. Kizito Maria, Dr. Bruno Sserunkuuma and myself, it became apparent that what we were dealing with here was a very special instance of serendipity at work.
On the one hand there was the enthusiasm of our partners for OUBEYs art, their deep understanding of its meaning, their whole-hearted agreement with the basic ideas underpinning the OUBEY MINDKISS Project, and, beyond all this, even the first ideas for the creation of completely new resonance spaces of a kind never before seen in the OUBEY Project. And, on the other hand, there was my own enthusiasm for the fantastic unflagging efforts of these exceptional men who for so many years have labored tirelessly to provide an alternative to the hopelessness and despair prevalent among young people in their home country where the majority of the population is under 30.
In that one week I experienced so much that would bear the telling but which reasons of space prohibit. Time and time again I was told what a tremendous honor it was that I should be bringing OUBEYs art to Uganda this coming December. To which I can only respond that for my part I consider all the resonance I have received thus far and the invitation that came out of it as a tremendous honor for myself and also for OUBEY and his art. Right now I can hardly imagine anything more wonderful and more exciting for our project than this forthcoming stopover of the Global Encounter Tour.
Given the infrastructure of the place, organizing logistics will be no easy matter. But we are going to master all the challenges. And we are going to see an openness, a directness and a joyfulness in the way people experience OUBEYs art of a type that we have never encountered before. After that week during which I saw and experienced so much, of this I am quite certain. So this is a story I really do love.