A taste of a DJ’s epic journey to feed world

Montreal-based DJ JaBig. His petite frame is in sharp contrast to the privileged life he has had, growing partly in Africa and in Canada.

When you meet him and he tells you his mind is fully occupied with how the world’s children should be assured of a daily meal, you do not see a man who has had all the food he ever needed all his life.

His petite frame is in sharp contrast to the privileged life he has had, growing partly in Africa and in Canada.

A church minister’s son who never missed a meal in his life, a deejaying job that is doing well and his prospects shining brightly, Montreal-based DJ JaBig will not rest until a majority of children in the world enjoy a meal every day.

“No child should die of starvation, or even miss school for lack of food. That is the message I have,” JaBig says of his dream.
JaBig, born Jean-Aime Bigirimana in Rwanda 31 years ago, will embark on a tour of the world in September in a global awareness campaign to teach people and governments that they have the capacity to end hunger as happened with polio.

In the next six to seven years, JaBig will use a car whose make he will not disclose now, to tour all the continents, using ships to cross water bodies. “People are asking me how I will manage but of course I will not cross oceans in a car,” he says.

He will start in Montreal, head to the USA, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania and then Africa. “My first stop in Africa will be South Africa,” he says.

The grand tour is being organised by the World Food Programme.

This week, JaBig was in Kenya to tour some of the schools where the United Nations organisation supports feeding programmes.

Saturday Nation caught up with JaBig at Mathare Community Outreach in the dark alleys of Mathare Valley whose three branches have more than 1,300 school-going children.

At the school, he enjoyed a meal of bulgar wheat, peas, vegetable oil fortified with vitamins and cooked in iodised salt.
“We ensure the children have a balanced meal as getting all nutrients in an ordinary meal is rare in Africa,” explains WFP official Rose Ogola as little children crowd around JaBig.

The Kenyan tour is a precursor to create awareness of September’s epic journey, according to the DJ’s itinerary, which runs for six years.

Before landing in Kenya last Friday, the pre-tour took JaBig to New York, London and Addis Ababa. After Nairobi, he travels to Mombasa and then Rome, Italy.

Discovering the world

“I am also discovering the world. I wanted firsthand encounters with children whose only means of getting a meal is through non-relatives,” he explains.

Sacrifice is needed to offer someone food, the DJ says, and he has already committed himself to giving up his favourite chocolate crepe meal three times a week for a month to feed needy children.

“I love the meal as it has nutella, banana and strawberry. Each package costs 20 (US) dollars. In total, my month forfeiture will feed about 1,000 children. That is the small change I want to tell people they can make in their lives,” he says.

During the tour, he will carry along his state-of-the-art music equipment to entertain the children he meets.

“I will be entertaining the children and talking to them about DJ skills. Then I will address the youth on the importance of sharing with others the little they have, especially food,” says the soft spoken but articulate DJ.

So where did it all start? “I once met a malnourished woman on her way to hospital and she looked like she was dying. The only thing she asked of passers-by was to feed her child, who was strapped on her back,” he recollects.

That was in Nairobi when he was a boy and living with his father. He then left for Canada in 1988.

“I made a lot of money in my 20s but there was nothing much I did with it,” he says.

It is then that he asked himself: “What legacy will I leave if I die?”

“I realised it would not be my career or the money I made. It would be in helping a child live by fighting hunger,” he says.
The co-owner of Gotsoul Recording in Canada is yet to be entangled in family commitments and believes he has all the time to make a difference. He is single and, in his words, “being searched for”.