Greetings to one and all. My name is Alex and I’m officially 1 week into my new position as Operations Assistant at Quest Overseas. I dare say I’m learning the ropes as I make the various Questies acquaintance and try to ensure I don’t send our current applicants to the wrong continent. JOKE!
Like the rest of the Quest team I’ve spent a considerable breadth of time exploring, venturing, volunteering and working in Africa and South America. My most recent stint sent me to the stunning South American giant of Brazil for a year, where I finally realised my intention of learning Portuguese. What many Brazilians told me is a uniquely Brazilian Portuguese word, and allegedly untranslatable, has to be one of my favourites – saudades – it implies nostalgia, or longing for a time, place or person you are without; it suggests feeling happy for the fond memories you hold, yet sad at the same time because what you are thinking about has passed. Perhaps a more expressive way of saying you miss something or somebody, and definitely apt for the good times spent away on unforgettable adventures.
But saudades aside, I would like to share one of my most unexpected experiences to date with you, because by the way you are dealing with a Nollywood star. For those that don’t know, Nollywood is the Nigerian film industry, and the second largest in the world after … Bollywood … yes the more infamous Hollywood only comes third in terms of the sheer number of films they make. Nollywood and increasingly other African made films are immensely popular across the African continent and in most places they are now outselling their Hollywood counterparts. For any Questies about to embark upon our Rwanda Children of Hope or Malawi Orphan Community Projects, it’s more likely that Rwandans and Malawians will better recognize Ramsey Nouah and Geneviene Nnaji (both Nollywood idols) than Kristen Stewart or Leonardo Dicaprio.
So when I was volunteering in Kaduna, Nigeria and local director Toka Mcbaror was looking for the ideal candidate to play an evil colonial lord in his latest production, he decided to approach some of the only white people currently present in the city – me and my fellow UK volunteers. It didn’t seem to matter that the last bit of acting I had done was as Joseph in Husthwaite Primary School Nativity Play 1996, or that my evil accomplice had only recently turned 18, we went ahead in one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve ever had whilst volunteering abroad. Filming took a grand total of one entire night, after which we darted to the airport in order to catch our flight back to the UK. Don’t believe me? Watch the trailer:
So perhaps now the name on everybody’s lips at the African Oscars ceremony is Alex Bailey, as the future villain of Nollywood cinema, mmmm, no unfortunately I haven’t quite managed to etch out such a career for myself but it is certainly an amazing story to tell. What’s more, the three of us who starred were paid a not so insignificant amount of money for our troubles, we decided to give this money to an NGO we had been working with which used it to help construct a borehole in a local community. Not bad for a day’s work!
Any similarly bizarre experiences you’d like to share? Send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org.