Written by Isidore Noel
Sitting at a friend’s barbeque the other day, I almost missed the opportunity to meet someone who at that moment appeared awkwardly quiet. It was easy to dismiss Andre Pilz as someone who is too shy to interact with others. Surprisingly though we ended up talking and he started telling me about his past and present which, I found incredibly fascinating.
My interest was caught when he asked me if I know Sade. Having been a lover of Helen Folasade Adu’s music since I first heard “Smooth Operator” and “Your Love is King” lifted from the debut album “Diamond Life”, I was intrigued by what Andre’s question would trigger. In addition to the music, to me Sade is the personification of a woman becoming more dazzling with age. Sade Adu who is of African descent through her Nigerian father is part of the Grammy-award winning English group known as Sade. Andre informed me that Sade has never performed or toured in Africa and that is where he has decided to step in. He would like to help fulfill this dream for many of Sade’s African fans who would most likely appreciate seeing Sade on stage in the land of her father and forefathers.
Andre has been a Sade fan for the past 25 years when he first heard her on the radio. Her deep, soothing voice moved him to find out who the person behind it was. For years he carried the dream of seeing Sade live in concert in his heart. The band that seldom has tours finally decided to have a Europe Tour in 2011. As exciting as this may have been for many of the European fans, Andre found himself on the wrong continent at the time. Finally the dream became a reality when Andre had the opportunity to see Sade in concert not just once but twice in Leipzig, Germany and also in Las Vegas, America. He was so moved by her performance that Andre, who has been living in Cape Town for about a decade, decided that he would like to expand his fulfilled dream by sharing it with the rest of the African continent. He claims that if he as an non-athletic guy can travel by bicycle from Cape-Town through the African continent to reach England to hand over a “petition” from Sade’s African fans, then perhaps Sade would be able to reach Africa to perform for her people. On his journey he carries a big Sade Fanbook where admirers can place messages for Sade.
Andre is not alone in his travels as alongside him is his friend Nala. Some might regard Nala as an invisible friend, but if you see Andre and see the effort he puts behind his dream, you will see Nala too. In some of the different places that Andre passes through, he interacts with visual artists that he encourages into painting, sculpting and re-creating art using Nala as their model. Therefore Nala can be seen in artworks dressed in traditional attire of the people in that place or looking at the desert when passing through it on her trip with Andre. The six-year old South-African girl from Cape Town has interesting stories to tell of her adventures which can be found on this Project Nala website
To additionally help fulfill some of the individual dreams of some of the African artists that he works with, he is planning to eventually collect all artwork made along the way to showcast and sell in an exhibition when he finally reaches England. This will hopefully expose the artists to bigger opportunities that they may harvest from in the future. Many of the artworks can be seen on www.the-nala-project.com . He hopes that Sade will be able to attend this function at which he would hand over the Sade Fanbook so that she may be touched by the love she has on the African continent.
This is one man’s dream derived from passion and longing for opportunity for himself and for others. Andre has passed the stage that many of us are still in. The stage of being pre-occupied with what others would say if we follow our dreams at the expanse of looking silly or even failing. He has chosen to offer his time and savings to be able to say “I have tried and I have learned.” Many of us are privileged in some way and can use this to fuel our dreams. For doing this, I hope Andre will meet a lot of Sade fans along his ambassadorial journey. For those that want to virtually accompany Andre and Nala on their adventure can be kept updated via Nala’s Facebook page . So far they have made it from Cape Town, South Africa to Windhoek, Namibia. Maybe one day we will be able to stand with Sade and sing along with her to “By your side” on the continent of our ancestors.