Here is what "AJABU" is about
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Already at the beginning we get to know quite a bit about international financial interdependencies and the abundance of natural resources in Africa through the TV news. Sam and Phoebe, the two heroes are presented to us, while playing chess, talking to each other and mocking a bit about computer games. We also get to know Sam's parents, watching TV and venting out their displeasure regarding unscrupulous deals, self-indulgence and the greed for profit in Africa.
Sam's father, the scientist and Africa expert, has professionally and personally a vivid interest in the continent and the diversity of its cultural treasures, but also his son Sam takes pleasure in African artifacts. And so it happens that an ancient, precious, small 'magic figurine' actually sends Sam and Phoebe to Africa.
Near Arusha Sam and Phoebe are faced with the fact that there are very different approaches to open a country and its attractions to visitors and tourists: The previously careful handling of nature, animals and humans in the regional National Park is suddenly endangered. With a new holiday resort the region is said to be soon opened up to mass tourism. This of course has to be prevented!
Phoebe and Sam, who have already got an idea how beautiful but also vulnerable the East African savannah is, decide to act unceremoniously.
The competent chief gamekeeper as well as the clever receptionist of the local lodge are backing them. Appreciation and gratitude for their courageous yet prudent intervention they even receive from the president himself. His good and close to nature concerns have almost fallen victim to the unscrupulous intentions of a certain Mr. Barran. Now the future maintenance of a valuable natural region under the management of well-trained staff, such as Muenda, is secured.
The rain forest in the heart of the Congo is a world Sam and Phoebe have never seen, far less gone before. The biodiversity of the rainforests and their highly complex ecosystems alone are actually worth a whole story. Thousands of animals and plants can be found only here and nowhere else on the planet.
Bizarrely, many of these remarkable creatures, we'll never get to know. Because of the rapidly progressing deforestation and the discovery as well as mining of valuable rocks and ores many animals die out before they are even found and explored. Extinction even before discovery - this, the early natural scientists certainly did not imagine.
A remarkable insight into the way of living of indigenous peoples gain Sam and Phoebe through the encounter with the friendly as well as individualistic Kohekohe. The forest as a home, which supplies you with everything - the Mbuti's way of life certainly is very impressive to the two kids from New York, but supposedly they would not change with them.
Among the rarest and most unique treasures in the Congolese rain forest rank the mountain gorillas.The impressive, silent giants live in the mountains in a green impenetrable, inaccessible world, yet their survival hangs by a thread. Their habitat's size decreases by progressing deforestation and uncontrolled settlement.
Warlords, 'bushmeat', diamonds, coltan extraction and many other factors affect the survival of the mountain gorillas, as well as the existence of the Mbuti is threatened.
It's about difficult issues that Sam and Phoebe talk to Kohekohe and to the dedicated gorilla researcher Hatsumi. And even our own world at home is subjected to critical scrutiny: Is the coltan in my smartphone possibly from this forest? Is the grandparents' beautiful garden furniture made from the wood of these giant trees? Who knows.
In a futuristic lab in the Kalahari Sam and Phoebe become acquainted with an entirely new aspect of Africa; this time the continent reveals its new and stunning progressive sides to them.
In the 'Indigene-Labs' and the associated farmland, solar technology, wind power and computer controlled drip irrigation are already standard. Here the future of water and energy-saving cultivation of food is being tested.
But 'Indigene' offers much more than only technology; in these laboratories research is done on those diseases especially Africa is so much afflicted with: AIDS and malaria. Sam and Phoebe have the opportunity to chat with the friendly young researchers and physicians from various African countries, and they even let the kids have a go at a highly scientific experiment.
But why are these labs called "Indigene"? Name giver is the indigenous population on site: the San. The San are, among others, experts for regional plants that can be used medically. While sharing their specific knowledge with the scientists, they benefit in the end when these drugs are patented. Perhaps this is not an everyday reality, as biopiracy happens everywhere in Africa, but it is the right approach.
Not far from the Cape of Good Hope the adventurers from New York land on a beautiful beach. After all, South Africa is a paradise for tourists from all over the world. Everything's there for them: Golfing, wine degustations, diving, surfing and much more, as Sam and Phoebe learn from the very relaxed Theo, who has established his small business that lives off tourism on the beaches of trendy Cape Town.
But this scenic paradise clearly has a dark side: Apartheid has left its mark on the people and still poor living conditions in the townships, inadequate education and income opportunities, and above all the lack of opportunities in general, which affects so many, leads to grief, but also to wrath.
Phoebe and Sam prove their fortitude and bravery in a serious situation. After all, this is about more than just themselves: They are helpful, but also courageous and stand up for the truth and dignity. And that's exactly what it's all about for the guys from Khayelitsha too; in Barran's Cape Town office memorable scenes are being performed.
But this chapter of the great adventure that began with such a mess closes at the end with a completely unexpected offer, which for both sides will end up as much more than just another 'deal' between partners.
The fight for petroleum as a key resource takes place in Cabinda, among others. Angola's small exclave rests on abundant quantities of crude oil, but do all the people get their fair shares? From young Esenje, Phoebe and Sam learn that oil production can result in unpleasant consequences: water pollution that has a direct impact on local agriculture, displacement of small farmers and even expropriation. Cabinda is rich, its residents are poor. Is that logical?
Not only do the local farmers still suffer from the consequences of the past civil war, there are also hardly any reasonable educational opportunities. Also the population has little or no share in the profits made by the Angolan oil.
But you have to stand up and raise your voice. You have to believe in a better future, and start working on it very hard even when everything looks hopeless.
This powerful and optimistic message Sam and Phoebe learn from Hekima, Esenjes grandfather. The old man, though blind, sees Africa's future; as it takes its fate into its own hands, as it gets up, and creates justice and even as it grows beyond itself. Sam and Phoebe are deeply impressed and have great respect for the clear and forward-looking vision of the wise old man.
The land of self-confident and strong women. In Ghana, many women are economically successful – they're confident entrepreneurs who have built their very existence, and who won't allow anybody meddling in their affais. Just such a woman is Ohenewaa, the powerful cocoa farmer, who is also the head of the local cocoa cooperative.
Cocoa farming is in most African countries still carried out in small, rural businesses involving predominantly manual work. Thus, so that this work would not involve children's hands, Ohenewaa chose fair trade agriculture as her way. She just likes fair and honest business. Which is why she also becomes furious sometimes that the export of African quality products is hindered all too often by duties and difficult export conditions. She must make money after all!
No question that Sam and Phoebe immediately offer their help when they hear that the plantation's last harvest is in danger of 'simply disappearing from the market' in the port of Tema. And if you must 'board' a trade freighter, well, then sometimes it becomes necessary to even make use of a little helper - cocoa liquor in this case.
Is this city in the desert a kind of Fata Morgana? Timbouctou affects Phoebe and Sam as if it were fallen into the desert's sand straight from another time. In the library of this seemingly magical place, they discover that Africa is by no means a continent without any written culture, like many still believe today.
Countless valuable old books and scrolls are witnesses to a rich cultural heritage. Timbouctou was for centuries a center of education and science, while also being a hub of the trans-Saharan trade and starting point for many trade caravans.
The art of trading though, is something Phoebe and Sam must learn first, because without food you cannot go on a journey. The rhetoric of haggling isn't really something that's in the blood of both urbanites, but when the wise Sidi gives them a few tips they also manage doing the grocery shopping that turns out as quite 'keen to debate' with the resolute Sela.
For the slightly grumpy Cherif al Nemsi the desert is still the center of his life, despite the salt caravans becoming rarer every year. Phoebe and Sam have to rely on his lifelong experience as they're forced on a dangerous ride into the Sahara.
A camp under the stars in the middle of the desert is a good place to sometimes talk about personal matters, what you believe in and how tolerant you are with the beliefs of the others.
Values are also at stake at the end of the game: Do you also have to stand by those who have always thought only of themselves and never of others? What actually are the ever greatest treasures and values in our lives? Can really everything be measured best in numbers? And: Can people re-arrange their stars?
If you want something to change for the better, then you will always have to take things in your own hands. That's the simple but energetic message that Sam and Phoebe take with them at the end of this great adventure that began so harmlessly in New York with a small magic figurine from Africa.
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