Musician, composer, producer, animal lover and adventurer, Ann Jangle has been performing music across Africa and Europe for over twelve years. After living in Germany for two years, her return to South Africa and the adoption of her furry best friend, Kevin set Ann Jangle on “the most ambitious journey of her life” – cycling, woman alone from South Africa to Kenya to raise awareness for the endangered animals and uplifting communities through music as part of the “AFRICAN DREAM PARADE”. Ann Jangle took some time out to share her adventure before setting off to complete the trip up the East Coast of Africa, cycling from Kenya to Cairo on the “AFRICAN DREAM ODYSSEY”. A story by Ann Jangle.
You can listen to this article in Sotho in our June DigiMag.
Nothing, aside from judging someone by their skin colour, baffles me more than the words: ‘time to settle down’. In my world, this is a natural phenomenon which happens at the right time and cannot be forced, so I settled down the only way I knew how and got a dog, called Kevin. Kevin made such an impact on my overall health and happiness that I decided to spend the rest of my life using music to help animals. Kevin and I sold off everything we had (luckily, he travelled light with only a tennis ball and some pellets) and bought a van.
We started the AFRICAN DREAM PARADE back in Cape Town. Joined by close friends and brilliant sound guy, Mike Hunter and trumpet player Keegan Steenkamp we travelled over 25 000kms across the country and raised 3 tons of dog food, which we donated to Animal Welfare organisations in the area where we performed. Word spread that we were helping animals through music and got asked to perform in every Province across the country.
After almost a year on the road I got invited to perform at the Kilifi New Year’s Festival in Kenya. We were back in the Western Cape. I dropped the guys off at home and decided to sell the van and buy the oldest Toyota I could find to prove a point by driving, woman alone across the continent with my two dogs. I found a 1996 Toyota Rav 4, had it fixed up with a new engine, clutch, brakes, almost to a point of a brand-new vehicle, and got all the animal injections and paper work up to date for my dogs to cross borders to Kenya.
By the time I reached Kenton on Sea in the Eastern Cape, a 10-hour drive from Cape Town, I realized that petrol was going to cost a pretty penny. I also had no idea on how to fix a car in the middle of Africa. I did a mini crash course on mechanics and had enough time to do more planning. I took on a job for some extra cash at a local lodge, running a marine and wildlife conservation program for youngsters from overseas who had finished school and wanted to learn more about the environment, as a type of gap-year. One good thing that did come from my short time there, was that I got to meet a woman who changed the entire course of my life, forever – Blanca Fernandez a.k.a Blanca on a Bike.
She arrived late one afternoon on her bicycle – she had been cycling across the world. I remember her ridiculous shoe tan and her short, scruffy, wild grey hair. I asked her where she had come from. She said: ‘London, about a year ago.’ At the age of 61 she cycled, woman alone, from London to China, flew to Egypt, cycled Cairo to Cape Town via the East Coast of Africa and back to London via the West Coast of Africa.
I decided then and there that I was going to cycle to Kenya instead. I knew that if she could do it, I could too. At this stage I had only cycled around the block a few times in Berlin to a nearby market. I had no idea about anything related to cycling, I didn’t even own a bike, but like with everything in my life, once I decide to do something, nothing on this planet can stop me from following through. Even if it kills me. Guess I`m too stubborn to quit.
I had no idea where to start though. I resorted to Facebook and asked publicly if anyone had a bicycle for me to cycle to Kenya with. After realising how ridiculous this sounded, I deleted my post an hour later. Two weeks later I saw a message in my inbox from a guy in Centurion who was importing NORCO bicycles from Canada. Matthew De Jongh, a man I hold very dear to my heart, sponsored me a bicycle, panniers and a tool kit to embark on the most ambitious journey of my life. Matthew showed me how to change a bicycle tyre and work the tools he had given me a week before embarking on my solo cycle across Africa. I was then dropped close to the Ramotswa border post of Botswana on 11 June 2019. My birthday. After crossing into Botswana, the staff on the South African side of Passport control ran over to the fence to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. It really made a huge difference. I was petrified.
Over the next 8 months I endured the greatest hardships, the biggest challenges, not only physically but emotionally too. Being alone for so long you really do a lot of inner work. You face your demons head on and there are no distractions from that. I almost froze to death on the Trans Kalahari Highway in peak Winter. I was pretty clueless about good quality gear needed for the trip and my useless sleeping bag’s zip broke about a week in. I had no idea about head wind, climbing hills, how to deal with elephant encounters or how much water to have. As dumb as this sounds, it was a blessing in disguise because I think if I knew more about what I was in for, I might not have done it.
As hard as it was, it was also the most free and fulfilled I’ve ever felt in my life. I wrapped my tent cover around me after freezing in Botswana one night and was left to sleep in, the equivalent to a tiny mosquito net, which allowed me to fall asleep staring at the stars each night. My little tent. This was home for the next 7 months.
I left on this journey with one goal in mind. To raise awareness for endangered wildlife and uplift communities through music. I was also sponsored a Martin Mini Backpackers guitar and strapped it to my bike. We might not all speak the same language, but we all speak `music`. Especially in Africa. I spoke and sang to thousands of children at different schools in many different villages across Africa. Most of the kids sang to me too. We communicated as best as we could with words, but with music, we spoke for hours, dancing, singing, making sounds. I learned a lot about endangered animals as I visited many organisations. It was important to me that my message to the children was that our relationship with animals and our environment directly affects our relationship with self.
The greatest moment was reaching that Kenyan border. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, knowing you really CAN do anything you put your mind to. Every achievement comes with sacrifice and hardships. Victory comes when you push past the things that scare you. You are only faced with challenges because it builds character and all those qualities you need further on in life. I returned back to South Africa from Kenya in February 2020, just before lockdown started. The journey was intense but changed every aspect of my life. From the way I now write music to the way I see people, my adaptation to daily life was a struggle at first but as with every great adventure, it only sparks off a desire to continue onto the next one.
Currently I am on the “AFRICAN DREAM ODYSSEY”. We have spent the last month getting a vehicle to drive us to Tanzania. From there we will be finishing the East African cycling route to Egypt. With the vehicle we can revisit the organisations and schools I spent time with on my cycling trip. See how they have grown or the struggles they now face after Covid. Follow up is important to sustain relationships. I fell in love with Bagamoyo, a small village about 62km North of Dar Es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania. I knew when I arrived there on my bicycle that my heart belonged there. Funnily enough, Bagamoyo means “To lay your hearts down”. There is a lot of work to be done with the community there. My dream is to grow my independent movement known as “CONSCIOUS CONCERTS”. “Conscious Concerts” involve the community. It`s a screening of motivational local documentaries, currently my own, for now, but later I would like to screen local artists at work, whether dancing, singing, working with animals, doing good, wholesome acts to help build communities, a talk on community upliftment and a musical collaboration with local artists. I started this movement upon my arrival in Cape Town after returning from Kenya. Lockdown put an abrupt stop to it but I saw the potential. I believe in the movement.
We start this journey to Tanzania our first shows booked starting in mid-May in Namibia. The gig money will cover our fuel, food expenses and fund the next documentary. Thanks to `JUST MUSIC SOUTH AFRICA` you can now view my cycling documentary called AFRICAN DREAM PARADE on Youtube”.
For more information please visit www.annjangle.com
For a donation of $100 or more, you can have your logo displayed on our vehicle making its way across Africa on the AFRICAN DREAM ODYSSEY - raising awareness for endangered animals and uplifting communities through music.