Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"Intimacy is a song inviting two people to come and share their spirit together.
It is a song that no one can resist."

Imigongo is textured art work featuring geometric prints.

As is so typical in Africa, local materials are used for the most imaginative arts and crafts.

Imigongo is created from cow dung applied to wood pieces, baked, and painted, in either black and white schemes or earth-coloured hues.

Apparently the dung of youthful cows is the best...

The dark green cow dung is taken by hand - in clumps - and molded into wood planks, like clay. Paint is then applied

A small factory might produce about 20 pieces a day.

There are the dung molders and then the painters...

Which one would you rather be..?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Human Star

"You will see in the temple of your heaven a face of light, your face, my brother, my sister, shining amidst the dust of human stars. You are a star. Do not forget it. Lift up your eyes!"
Irenee Guilane Dioh


"Delicacy of gestures attests to delicacy of feelings".

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Chosen Ones

"The body of a man is very small compared with the spirit that inhabits it".

Dance in Rwanda is instinctive and its roots stretch back through the centuries.

We had just had a good look around the National Museum in Butare. It contains a beautiful collection of exhibits on Rwandan history and culture. Outside the museum were a line of drums. I wondered up to them and started photographing. I had no idea what a treat had been planned for us as we were led around the back of the building to a stage area.

We were about to see one of the finest examples of Rwanda's traditional and dynamic dance styles.

The Intore Dancers have been dancing for centuries. At the time of the monarchy, before the arrival of the Europeans, the Intore Dancers at the royal court were selected young men who had received a privileged education and choreographic training in order to entertain their masters and to perform at special functions. The name intore means 'The Chosen Ones' signifying that only the best of them were chosen for this honour.

Traditionally their performances consisted mainly of warlike dances, such as ikuma (lance), umeheto (bow) and ingabo (shield), in which they carried authentic weapons. In the 20th century dummy weapons were substituted, the dances were given peaceful names and rhythum and movement (rather than warfare) became their main feature.

It is always interesting to ask at the end of a trip what the highlight was for each person. The answers are always so varied. We all have such different ways of seeing, according to our nature.

For me, these 2 hours spent watching and photographing the Intore Dancers was a complete turn on.

They were inspirational, but why so?

Words, once again, are inadequate.

I can only say that once they stepped onto the stage they were free spirits and took on a god-like quality.

Total involved, totally present and totally in tune. Their bodies pulsed to the beat of the drums and the sound of the women's voices. It was an honour to watch them as they bathed in their own spirit. They shared themselves so openly and naturally.

Confident, strong, dynamic but at the same time so delicate. One felt drawn right in to their celebration.

That's what it was really - a celebration of spirit....

Saturday, January 23, 2010


"Watch an animal, a flower, a tree, and see how it rests in Being. It is itself. It has enormous dignity, innocence, and holiness. However, for you to see that, you need to go beyond the mental habit of naming and labeling. The moment you look beyond mental labels, you feel that inefable dimension of nature that cannot be understood by thought or perceived through the senses. It is a harmony, a sacredness that permeates not only the whole of nature but is also within you".

"The plant that you have in your home - have you ever truly looked at it? Have you allowed that familiar yet mysterious being we call plant to teach you its secrets? Have you noticed how deeply peaceful it is? How it is surrounded by a field of stillness? The moment you become aware of a plant's emanation of stillness and peace, that plant becomes your teacher".

Eckhart Tolle in

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hollow Bamboo

Do naught with the body but relax.
Shut firm the mouth and silent remain;
empty your mind and think of naught.
Like a hollow bamboo, rest at ease with your body.
Giving not nor taking, put your mind at rest.
Mahamudra** is like a mind that clings to naught.
Thus practicing, in time you will reach buddhahood.


**Melting into the source of being. A total orgasm with the universe.

On the way from Kigali to Butare, we stopped for a bite to eat. In the entrance to the restaurant, we found some bees who had made their home in some pieces of hollow bamboo...

Monday, January 18, 2010

No Roots

The clouds that wander through the sky
have no roots, no home;
neither do the distinctive thoughts
floating through the mind.
Once the self-mind is seen, discrimination stops.

And once you can see that thoughts are floating - you are not the thoughts but the space in which thoughts are floating - you have attained to your self-mind, you have understood the phenomenon of your conciousness. Then discrimination stops; then nothing is good, nothing is bad, then all desire simply disappears, because if there is nothing good, nothing bad, there is nothing to be desired, nothing to be avoided.

You accept; you become loose and natural. You simply start floating with existence, not going anywhere, because there is no goal; not moving to any target, because there is no target. Then you start enjoying every moment, whatsoever it brings - whatsoever remember. And you can enjoy it, because now you have no desires and no expectations. And you don't ask for anything, so whatsoever is given, you feel grateful. Just sitting and breathing is so beautiful, just being here is so wonderful that every moment of life becomes a magical thing, a miracle in itself.

Tantra: The Supreme Understanding

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


An intellectual is all the time showing off.
Lovers dissolve and become bewildered.

Intellectuals try not to drown,
while the whole purpose of love
is drowning.

Intellectuals invent
ways to rest, and then lie down
in those beds.

Lovers feel ashamed
of comforting ideas.

You’ve seen a glob
of oil on water? That’s how a lover
sits with intellectuals, there, but alone in a circle of himself.

Some intellectual
tries to give sound advice to a lover.

All he hears back is, I love you.
I love you.

Love is musk. Don’t deny it
when you smell the scent!

Love is a tree.
Lovers, the shade of the long branches.

To the intellectual mind, a child must learn to grow up and be an adult.

In the station of love,
you see old men getting younger and younger.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


"Without the community, the individual is left without a place where he can contribute. The community is that grounding place where people come and share their gifts and receive them from others".

Market day on the road from Kigali to Butare.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


"Forget the dancer, the center of the ego; become the dance. That is meditation. Dance so deeply that you forget completely that 'you' are dancing and begin to feel that you are the dance. The division must disappear; then it becomes meditation. If the division is there, then it is an exercise: good, healthy but it cannot be said to be spiritual. It is just a simple dance. Dance is good in itself - as far as it goes - it is good. After it, you will feel fresh, young. But it is not meditation yet. The dancer must go, until only the dance remains. Don't stand inside, don't be an observer. Participate! And be playful. Remember the word playful always."

Saturday, January 2, 2010


"When people recognise that they are spirit in a human body and the other people are spirits, they begin to understand that our bodies are sacred and that sexuality is far more than a means of pleasure; it is a sacred act."



"Rwanda is a country of hills, mountains, forests, lakes, laughing children, markets of busy people, drummers, dancers, artisans and craftsmen. We manage to squeeze thousands of hills and eight million people into our 26,338 square kilometres. Our land is rich and fertile, the climate pleasant. This has been our home for centuries. We are one people. We speak one language. We have one history."

This was the first paragraph of the first stand inside the Genocide Memorial, Kigali.

We had just six days to see, feel and understand.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Eyes

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

As I pick over the last 10 years and look forward to the next decade, I find more and more drive to live in the present, without judgement, without barriers.

I long to be free of the filter of the mind that causes so much suffering.

I long to have new eyes.

As I bid farewell to Mozambique, my mind flicks over some of the stand out images...

1. Snorkelling over a big purple star fish who was hugging a rock on the sea floor. The rays of the sun were hot on my back as I stretched out my arms and legs to mirror the star shape below. The sun's rays penetrated the clear water and for a few moments there was a stillness. There was no separation between us.

2. Walking out to sea under a full moon, knee deep in water. We were close to the equator. The tide was low and our shadows, as we walked and talked, were tiny. The sand was white and rippled under foot and our skin, in the florescent light, was a dark brown.

3. We walked up the steps into a huge thatched sala tucked away on the other side of the island. Stakes surrounded us burning with fire, the table was laid on the beach, the stars were huge above and a campfire blazed. A gasp at the beautiful sight found me spontaneously holding hands with a man I had only just met. The innocence of it was childlike.

4. As I stood on the roof terrace of Ibo Island Lodge the energy vibration of a pink sun setting was palpable. With rock shandy in hand, I curled up on the bright cushions laying my head sideways on the cold white washed stone. I looked out onto a bay dotted with the shadows of fishing boats. Friends were chatting in the background and there was a moment of peace. A short but welcome release from the underlying anxiety that had been hounding me.

5. The swing chair at Ibo Island Lodge reminded me so much of lazy summer days in my hammock as a child. The sky was so blue as I spread my hand open in front of it, looking up. The palm trees were swaying in the background and cast beautiful shadows onto the ground below. It was as if nobody could see me there. I could have stayed there forever in that space. The white, colonial building, the wind in the trees, the swimming pool, the bright colours, the birdsong...

Farewell blue, hello green.......

Turtle Power

"Everything living has a soul".

The Maluane Conservation Communities Programme, established in 1998, supports the most advanced turtle conservation programme in East Africa. On Vamizi Island there are no predators and so the baby turtles are allowed to hatch naturally.

We walked along the beach to the nest. The sun was low and orange in the sky and the moon was full and rising opposite.

Abu, the Malawian conservationist, had been watching this particular nest for a while and hoping that it would be ready for our visit. The nesting season runs from between January to July. It was April and so the timing was perfect.

Hatchlings ready to emerge wait just beneath the sand surface until conditions become cool but in this case, for our benefit, the team of experts were giving the newborns a helping hand by digging them out. A rich, stale smell rose from the nest as they dug.

Sea turtle hatchlings have an inbuilt tendency to move in the brightest direction. More often than not, this is towards a sparkling sea as the light of the moon reflects off the water. The guys carefully took each turtle from the nest and handed them to us to place on the sand. These tiny little creatures then started off on their journey seaward.

I could see that the 20 m journey from the back of the beach to the lapping waves was a long and arduous one. The little crests in the sand that I just scuffed my toes over were like mini mountains for these guys! It's all about perspective.

Only 1 out of 1,000 turtles survive. They are only really safe after they are at least 40cm in size as every fish that has a mouth bigger than the little turtles can eat them. Even then there is the threat of poaching (most of the Vamizi population live below the poverty line and turtles are valuable for their shell), sometimes the turtles get accidentally caught in the fishing nets or the ingestion of plastic bags is not uncommon.

In an attempt to protect the turtles, a 4 dollar reward is offered to every fisherman who returns a turtle from their nets to the conservation project. In 2006, 4 rewards were given. In 2008 that number went up to 80 and so the awareness grows....