31 March 2006

R.I.P Nelson

There's a ton going on with me right now, but something has trumped an update about jobs and life here in the city. When I was in East Africa, I was traveling alone, but I was never really alone. I found ways to make friends wherever I went, and in Arusha Tanzania I fell in with some hip hop MCs. We only spent a couple months together, but these kids had a major impact on my research and on my life. I spent my 25th birthday staying up all night with my Tanzanian friends around a bonfire in the shadow of an extinct volcano, chewing miraa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khat) and listening to music from all over the world.

Although my swahili was meagre at best, we still managed to have deep conversations that covered life and love and music and politics and death. Who knew that death was so close?

Yesterday I received an email that one of my closest friends in Tanzania had been murdered by a psychotic knife-wielding neighbor. Nelson, aka Faza Neli, was an amazing man; humble, gracious and an incredible poet and artist who touched my life and so many others around the world. He was a member of XPlastaz, a internationally touring hip hop group that fused Maasai chants with East Coast style beats and rhymes and included Neli's two brothers and sister as members. I know there are so many people in Arusha and across the globe who miss him tremendously, as you can see from the guestbook at http://www.xplastaz.com (be sure to watch their videos, they're amazing). Tanzania has lost a prophet this week.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

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