When I passed through Nairobi on my big trip from Cape Town to Cairo – the journey that would become Swahili for the Broken-Hearted – I stayed at the Iqbal Hotel on the wrong side of River Road.
The Iqbal was an institution on the East Africa backpacker trail – central, not too skanky and cheap. Its noticeboard was legendary, kind of like a real world social media before there even was social media.
Amongst the hopeful notes from guys hoping to ‘reconnect’ with the Swedish girls they met in Malawi, there was a notice from a German film company looking for extras for a movie they were shooting on the outskirts of town.
I gave them a call and got cast as a German prisoner. It bagged me free meals and $US50 a day. The money I earned saw me all the way through Ethiopia and Sudan.
The movie also went on to win the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 75th Academy Awards.
I’d like to think it was my nuanced performance as ‘German Prisoner 89’ that won it.