Panel from the German 'Bessy' story 'Het Rijdende Fort' (1978, Flemish working title)

Jean Bosco Safari is a Belgian-Rwandese pop singer, better known as Kid Safari, who has released several albums since 1989. Between 1976 and 1983 he was one of the pencil artists at Willy Vandersteen's Bessy Studio in Antwerp, where he worked for the weekly 'Bessy' production for the German Bastei Verlag.

Early life and career
Safari was born in 1954 in Rubago, Rwanda, as the son of a black mother and white father. He spent his first six years in a typical rural community in this Central African country, while it was still a Belgian colony. After the Hutu revolt of 1959, his family was brought to a refugee camp, after which all half-blood children (Safari himself prefers the term "double blood") were sent to Belgium. Jean was adopted by the Flemish family Vijdt-Vandamme in Merksem in June 1960. His adoptive name was Johan Vijdt, but everyone called him Jean. It wasn't until 1995 when he learned about his full background and officially returned to his original Rwandese name.

The young man showed a talent for both music and drawing. At age 12 he already went to art school, where one of his teachers was Frank-Ivo Vandamme. At age 16 he however decided he wanted to become a musician, and played the guitar with a local band in Brasschaat. Living in Antwerp from the age of 21 on, Safari noticed it was difficult to make a living as a musician. He returned to drawing and through his friend Robert Wuyts he got a job at Frank Sels' studio, where the 'Silberpfeil' stories for the German market were produced.

Studio Bessy
Together with Wuyts he later joined Studio Bessy at Gretrystraat 15 in Antwerp in 1976. Ever since 1967, the team there was fully devoted to the story production of Willy Vandersteen's Wild West series 'Bessy' for the German market. Safari was hired as a penciller, and remained with the studio until 1983, first under supervision of Jeff Broeckx, then of Ron van Riet. Every week, the team cranked out a complete adventure of Andy and his Scotch Collie Bessy for the publishing house Bastei Verlag. With such a high production schedule quantity became more important than quality. To keep up with the workload, the studio hired several scriptwriters, pencillers, inkers and general handymen throughout its existence. It is difficult to identify who did exactly what, although some pages of the 790th(!) story 'Im Bann des Silberlöwen' (Bessy #769 at Bastei) were up for auction at Catawiki.com in 2018 and credited to Bosco Safari. Around the same period, Bobbedoes.nl had pages for auction from the 1978 story 'Het Rijdende Fort' (Flemish working title), which were also attributed to him.

Musical career
When the 'Bessy' production for Germany slowed down, Bosco Safari left the studio and completely focused on his musical career. In the early 1980s, he formed the ska/pop group Heartbreak with guitar player Fred Bekky (a former member of The Pebbles) and drummer Patrick Deweert, with whom he released one album, 'Heartbreak Motel' (1982), and a handful of singles. Thijs van Leer, of Focus fame, played the keyboards. John Vijdt, as he was credited at the time, also penned a couple of synth pop songs for some obscure artists, but overall it didn't exactly made him a fortune. His luck changed in 1989 when he met Tina Turner's piano player Kenny Moore. Moore produced his debut album 'Wow' (1989), which he made under the artist's name Kid Safari. The song 'My Eyes' even became a number 1 hit in South Africa. His second album, 'The Romantic Heroes', followed in 1993, and was produced by British songwriter and arranger Robyn Smith. With his third album, 'Little Boy Blue', Kid Safari turned to more dark and introspective songwriting. This path was continued in his next albums 'Visions of home' (1997), 'NOMAD' (2003 and 'Private Revolution' (2008), all more personal records with more ethnical influences.

A committed musician, Jean Bosco Safari has regularly given charity concerts for various humanitarian projects and organizations in development countries.


Bessy - Im Bann des Silberlöwen

www.jeanboscosafari.be

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