Ondiek – Ayub Ogada (En Mana Kuoyo, 1993). In looking for an opening track, I originally planned to use another one by Kenyan-born Ogada used on the Constant Gardener soundtrack (Kothbiro). But Ondiek offers such welcoming tones, as if inviting listeners to participate in a quiet, thoughtful conversation. For me, the topic is Africa and the impact our trip might have on lives there.
Bullet the blue sky – U2 (The Joshua Tree, 1987). While living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC in the mid-1980s, I was among the tens of thousands at RFK stadium for the 1987 Joshua Tree tour. At one point, Bono grabbed a spotlight and shined it through the crowd, as if to touch everyone present. The band’s unapologetic, post-punk fusion of music and politics erupted in an era of synthetic, vacuous pop and inspired many to think more carefully about our places in the world, including me. I selected this track, which is a critique of Reagan-era foreign policy in Central America, as a touchstone and reminder of the tremendous potential for good and ill that governments can have on humanity and the planet, depending on their priorities and political will.
Marudzi Nemarudzi – Thomas Mapfumo (Rise up, 2006). Ok. So this is one of two that I lifted wholesale from the Long Way Down soundtrack. But wait - let me explain. I don’t know at what point the song comes up in the movie, which was what first inspired me to seek out Enduro Africa. All I know is that it grabbed me and forced me to rewind the film several times just so that I could absorb as much of it as I could. I only later learned that it was by Mapfumo, the “Lion of Zimbabwe”, whose politically charged music helped define a generation’s response to minority rule in the former Rhodesia.