Svaha Spirit Series: The ONE Campaign ~

ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease by raising public awareness. ONE and its partners, have played an important role in persuading governments to support effective programs and policies that are making a measurable difference in fighting extreme poverty and disease.

As a result of those programs, today nearly 4 million Africans have access to life-saving AIDS medication, up from only 50,000 people in 2002. Malaria deaths have been cut in half in countries across Africa in less than 2 years and 46.5 million more children are now going to school. Children are precious and each and every child deserves to have fresh water, food, a warm place to sleep and an education.

My favourite musician of all time co-founded ONE and (RED) which I also support! 🙂

The F-Word….The ONE Campaign

Use your voice for something that matters.


Sign the petition here… 


(RED) The Lazarus Effect

Last night on Facebook, (RED)The Lazarus Effect’ film Directed by Lance Bangs, Executive Producer Spike Jonze, streamed The Red Carpet live from the screening at MoMA in NY. You can see the film’s Premiere on May 24 th on HBO, YouTube & Channel 4. I originally saw the campaign commercial on (LOVE IT) a new site I found while doing research for another post. (Friday’s) Sooo many great things to write about it’s hard to pick!

I keep getting reminded why Bono is my all time favourite musician, here is another reason! Bono, Penelope Cruz, Hugh Jackman, Don Cheadle, Gwen Stefani, Gabourey Sidibe, Jane Lynch, Dakota Fanning, Orlando Bloom, Lucy Liu, Claire Daines, and so many more friends of (RED) show the power of what 40 cents can buy.

The Lazarus Effect Campaign: 40 cents = 2 lifesaving pills … With the help of 2 antiretroviral (ARV) pills that cost around 40 cents a day, a person with HIV can transform their life in as few as 40 days. Doctors call it “The Lazarus Effect.”

I buy (RED) whenever given the choice to do so. It takes the same effort to buy a Starbucks (RED) gift card as it does any other, so why not! My kids Teacher gifts are (RED) Starbucks coffee cards. You’re not only supporting a great cause which is making positive change in the world, you’re teaching kids that a gift can have a life changing meaning behind it! Win/win!

Change is being made because of those who use their voices! You can use your consumer voice, by supporting (RED), Teacher gifts and Mother’s Day are just a few ways to help!


Svaha Spirit Series ~ Sing by Annie Lennox ~

Our Svaha Spirit Series is meant to be Inspirational. I love music and was inspired while watching Annie Lennox’s video ‘Sing’. To quote directly from her website SING, “When people get together to sing, they become encouraged and inspired.” Isn’t that true! Annie Lennox teamed up with 23 of the world’s most acclaimed female superstar voices to produce ‘Sing’ to raise money and awareness for the HIV/Aids organization,Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). Here’s Annie Lennox, and in the chorus, Madonna, Celine Dion, Pink, Dido to name a few of the 23 who use their voices to inspire! If you take a look around her website you will see the progress that has been made since she started SING, now that’s inspiring!

Inspiration is what helps make positive change.

Annie Lennox ~ Sing


Dancing in the Street !

Vancouver’s very own Robson Street was hit by imagine1day’s official ‘Dancing in the Street’ flashmob on Saturday! If you knew about this event in advance you were able to rehearse on line if you wanted to take part in this choreographed dance! It wasn’t just about keeping the party going that the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics started, imagine1day is a nonprofit organization that is striving to bring primary education to all children in Ethiopia, Africa by 2020. This is one of the ways they draw attention to their cause. And what better place to do it while the streets are literally filled with thousands of optimistic Olympic visitors who are ready, willing and able to take part in any peaceful celebration.

Athletics and education go hand in hand if you ask me.  An athletes drive, dedication and discipline along with education is what allows them to reach their goals. With access to an education anything is possible, even a Gold metal at the Olympics! imagine1day allows you to decide where you put your money to help with elements of eduction, whether it’s the roof of a classroom, the water system or educational tools, 100% of your contribution will fund the children’s education project of your choice. Visit their website to find out how you can get involved ! Take a look at what is possible if you really believe in something! Its brilliant really, connecting people to greatness ~


History of a Tattoo…African ~

TracyAfrican Tattoos or Scarification~

The history of tattooing in Africa dates back thousands of years. Until Otzi the Iceman was discovered, the oldest known tattoos belonged to the mummy of Amunet, a priestess of the goddess Hathor somewhere between 2160 BC -1994 BC. The designs found on her mummy, were believed to be symbols of fertility and rejuvenation.


African scarification

Many men in West Africa undergo scaring or cicatrisation as a form of tribal initiation and bravery. This painful process begins for most young males at puberty and continues into adulthood. Scarification is done by lifting the skin a little, making a cut with a sharp tool such as a razor blade, thorn or anything with a sharp edge, and sand or ash is then rubbed into the cut to make the raised scar patterns anywhere on the body. The patterns followed are often local traditions which feel like braille lettering. Each tribe has unique designs, the man in the photo has patterns that identify his village and clan. He also has black magic symbols to help ward off evil spirits. These different designs often indicate social rank, traits of character, political status and religious authority.

scarification nuba womanFor African women, scarification is most often associated with fertility.  Scars added at puberty, after the birth of the first child, or following the end of breastfeeding, highlight the bravery of women in enduring the pain of childbirth. As if that wasn’t enough! Scars on other areas of the body such as the hips and buttocks, accentuate the erotic and sensual aspects of the female body.

Children are also included in this tradition of scarification when they reach different stages of their lives such as weaning from their mothers breast. Here in North America most tattoo artists will not tattoo anyone under the age of 18 without a parents present, however there are those who do.

In the past I have always added a video to my tattoo posts to really show the style of tattooing, this one will be no exception. However some of you might find this video graphic because of the nature of the topic. I specifically chose this one because it was filmed by National Geographic, which I grew up watching. Keep in mind as you are viewing this video that this tradition or ritual makes these individuals feel accepted by their community. Although I don’t agree with it when it involves a small child it could be compared to circumcision in North America. Technically there is no reason for either tradition or ritual. I look at these differences as educational. We are all connected as human beings regardless of our culture. I accept everyone for who they are and what they believe.  It makes the world in which we live diverse in every way. This video is not for everyone. There is some blood and a quick clip of a child who is undergoing scarification.

Here are some African Symbols with their meanings ~

adinkra symbols

Warning ~This video has some graphic content!!

I think my next tattoo will be the African Adinkra Symbol ‘Sankofa’ “return and get it” the symbol of importance of learning from the past.

Tracy signiture


Ryan in Africa ~

“So You Want To Be A Safari Guide. It’s what I thought when I was twelve, now I am forty one. Let’s find out. This is a loose record of my experience at ENTABENI NATURE GUIDES six month guiding course.” Ryan Ennis

This is how Ryan In Africa starts. That was the hook for me. In 1985 when the movie “Out of Africa” came out I totally fantasied about living there. I didn’t want the life of Meryl Streep’s character for obvious reasons but for the beauty of the land and being completely back to basics. I bumped into Ryan a couple of days before he was to start his adventure. I was blown away that he was actually doing it. No one usually follows through with things like this. Adventures such as this are usually a pipe dream that we hear about for days which turn into weeks and soon years until it’s not talked about anymore. Ryan is living a dream that usually stays just that for many of us!

I was sooooo envious that he had a one way ticket to an adventure of a lifetime! Being a Stuntman I think you naturally crave that adrenaline high but this adrenaline would be completely different. Ryan isn’t on set in a controlled environment with first aid standing off camera. There is no craft service, nobody yells “cut” if things go wrong and there’s no stunt trailer. There’s trained guides, mother nature, wild animals and a massive amount of information to be learned!

Life should be about experience and that’s what I admired about what Ryan is doing. For those of you who don’t know Ryan he’s one of the Best Stud (I meant to type Stuntmen/Coordinator) in the film industry but I’ll leave that for the ‘Freudian’ lovers out there. Our paths have crossed on several different occasion over 17 years through friends, work and business. I love Ryan’s approach to life, he’s hilarious! It’s not everyday you get to read what it takes to be a Safari Guide so enjoy escaping with Ryan as he shares his entertaining loose record of his experience! I know you will laugh out loud, contemplate life a little and ask yourself  “Am I living my dream?”

Ryan in Africa

Here is an excerpt from Ryan In Africa~ The Lion Walk

“First we come across where the Lions killed a Wildebeest the night before. Knowing that they are well fed is a good thing, knowing they can always eat more is a bit sobering. So now we have the track and we know they are on the other side of some trees. We sneak through the trees like we are hunting rabbits. Big fucking six hundred pound rabbits with six inch teeth that want to kill us. It is a slow sneak. We soon spot the cats, six in all , we are almost outnumbered, not that it’s a fair fight. Did I mention the claws? Jesus! Cleverly, we move forward for a better look. Shortly after we arrive at a distance of about 125 yards the big male, lioness, and two cubs decide to move on, as they do so somehow they catch wind of our presence.

Now let me tell you there is nothing, NOTHING in this life that will burn itself into your memory like two huge lions with cubs to protect stopping in their tracks to turn and stare at you. A lot goes through your mind, like how your vehicle 300 meters away might as well be in Dallas, Texas for all the good it is to you now. The tension of that moment, with their eyes burning into the back of your head, burns all the silly useless thoughts that you waste your day with out of your head like an over cleaning itself. They decide that we aren’t an immediate threat and carry on, not without checking us out every ten seconds or so. We walked back when they were clear, I’m pretty sure that I floated back to the trucks and I bet there were no tracks behind me” Ryan In Africa.

This is just a taste of what happens in life when you make ‘critical choices‘ that lead to ‘defining moments‘. Be Safe Ryan, Not Careful!


Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story

Bonnie Johnson's Post“Queues of people start lining up at my house to charge their mobile phone.  I could not get rid of them.  And the reporters came too, which lead to bloggers and which lead to a call from something called TED.  I had never seen an airplane before.  I had never slept in a hotel.  So, on stage that day in Arusha, my English lost,  I said something like,”I tried.  And I made it.”
So I would like to say something to all the people out there, like me, to the Africans, and the poor who are struggling with your dreams, God bless.  Maybe one day you will watch this on the Internet.  I say to you, trust yourself and believe.  Whatever happens don’t give up.  Thank you.” – William Kamkwamba

This young man is such an inspiration.  His simple determination is what moved me the most I think.

Visit his website. or if you’re looking for a great gift idea why not purchase a copy of his new book:



Meshie: Chimpanzee Child

Bonnie Johnson's PostMaybe it is because we both have long hairy arms or maybe it’s my monkey mind, but I seem to feel some kind of connection with chimpanzees lately.  I came across a touching story on the Natural History Magazine web site.  The story haunts me and so to try and purge myself of it I’ve decided to share it with all of you.  The article is called Meshie: The Child of a Chimpanzee:  A creature of the African jungle emigrates to America.  By H. C. Ravenmeshie-playing

The story was written by Harry Raven in March-April of 1932.  He begins by telling how he happened to acquire a baby chimpanzee in 1930 while living in Africa.  A world-famous explorer and mammalogist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Mr. Raven spent more time in the wild in places like Borneo, Cameroon, Greenland and Peru than he did in his own country.  Although he mostly writes the story of Meshie as a scientist, his affection for the chimpanzee is obvious throughout his narrative.  He recounts how a year after living with her in Africa he brought Meshie to America on a ship where she had to be caged and became quite ill.  He fondly recalls how Meshie adapted to life out of the jungle and living with his “other” children.

meshie-bedMeshie drinking juiceMeshie leads the parade

What really got to me about this story was how Meshie was one of the family.  She played alongside Mr. Ravens other three children, rode tricycles and a kiddie car, played with the neighborhood children, indulged at ice-cream parties, went sledding and splashed about in a backyard pool.  The three Raven children all loved Meshie although the oldest, Jane Orttung, was quoted as saying she felt her father loved the chimp more than he did her.  “We never got to know father well,” she said. “Meshie was his only child in Africa. They spent a year there together. He knew her, he felt that he could depend on her, didn’t feel he knew us at all. He tried but didn’t do very well — I don’t think he knew American society very well.” Ouch!

I have since discovered that a fiction novel was published in 1994 that was based on Meshie’s story.  It is called “Jennie” by Douglas Preston.  In a New York Times interview with the author I also learned that Walt Disney studios had been in production to do a feature film based on his book.  I couldn’t find anything on the film however so I’m assuming it never came to be.  Douglas Preston talked of the startling affinity that chimpanzees have with humans.  “The tragedy of these chimps that are raised in families is that they think they’re human,” Mr. Preston said. “And the truth is a chimp is 98.5 percent human. We only differ 1.5 percent in our DNA.”

Now to the part that haunts me.  Meshie was a fully integrated part of the family but when she reached adolescence she became too difficult to control.  According to tests an adult female chimpanzee is approximately three and one-half times as strong as a college athlete. Meshie, at about one-third grown, was about as strong as a grown man.  It broke my heart when I read the following postscript on the Natural History website:

POSTSCRIPT: Meshie became hard to control after she became sexually mature, and Harry Raven reluctantly sold her to a Chicago zoo. He visited her about a year later, and described their last encounter to Museum anthropologist Harry L. Shapiro. The story is recounted by Douglas J. Preston in Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History (St. Martin’s press, 1994): “[Raven] told the keeper to unlock the cage and let him inside. The man refused, saying that it was far too dangerous, since Meshie had attacked several people and tried to bite others. Raven absolutely insisted, and the keeper finally gave in, washing his hands of all responsibility. ‘When Raven did go in the cage,’ Shapiro says, ‘Meshie threw herself into his arms and clung to him tightly. She began crying. The tears were streaming down her face.’ Meshie died in childbirth a year later, and the zoo shipped her body back to the Museum at Raven’s request, where he had it mounted and put on display in the Hall of Primates.

Mr. Preston said that the curator, Dr. Harold Shapiro, recounted how sometimes he would leave his office late at night and see Mr. Raven standing in front of the display case in the primate hall looking at the chimp with tears in his eyes.

What haunts me the most I suppose is the lingering sadness everyone in this story was left with.  Meshie herself devastated that she had been taken away from her adopted family, Harry Raven’s deep sorrow over the result of his decision and the rest of his family who were also sad at losing Meshie but who also believe she robbed them of their fathers affection.

Today Meshie can still be found in the primate hall at the Museum of Natural History. She sits on a log, chin in hand, looking pensive and sad.