February 26 2014
Musicians often have the best intentions when they branch into more humanitarian missions. The hardest part is to connect the music as a project with something more tangible, less commercial. Leaving audiences to wonder, as dealing with charities in general, where and how exactly the money gets spent. As well as whether a diference is truly being made in the lives of real people. One cross-pollinating musical plan promoting eco-cultural connection in the Nile River region however, has an intriguing approach that might achieve through music and creative collaboration what politicians have failed to do for centuries; i.e. engender a sense of cross-cultural unity based on their mutual conservation of the river as a vital resource for an entire region. Enter, The Nile Project.
The Nile Project was founded in August 2011 by Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero to address the Nile basin’s cultural and environmental challenges using an innovative approach that combines music, education and an enterprise platform. In their words:
For the Nile Basin to be sustainable, its inhabitants must be connected, its governance participatory, and its communities resilient. Despite ancient relations among East African civilizations, the 437 million citizens of the 11 nations sharing the longest river in the world have no avenues to connect beyond their state borders. Opaque political processes and uninformed populations lacking environmental understanding hinder democratic participatory governance. Insufficient institutional capacity, infrastructure, and funding prevent Nile communities from adapting to social pressures and environmental threats.
The Nile Project curates collaborations among musicians from the 11 Nile countries to expose audiences to the cultures of their river neighbors. These musical experiences foster cross-cultural empathy and inspire environmental curiosity to shift the Nile from a divisive geopolitical argument to a uniting East-African conversation. In partnership with local universities, interactive workshops and free online courses educate students and help them discover their unique roles in creating a more sustainable Nile Basin. The Nile Prize channels this newly acquired cultural empathy and environmental understanding towards concrete action by inspiring university students to become the change makers who will pioneer innovative solutions that drive the sustainability of the Nile ecosystem. Throughout this mobilization process, the Nile Project’s website supports program participants by providing online tools that facilitate multilingual dialogue and interdisciplinary collaborations.
Grand ambitions! The part that's Sound Travels relevant is the music and the album The Nile Project has released Aswan, is pretty dope. Recorded live, Aswan was born from the Project's first performance and is a sonic journey through the 11 countries that touch the Nile. I started the midday with this one...