April 7th, 2017.
I walk in late (typical me) to the The Nile Project concert at Wright Auditorium. The band was already playing by the time my friend and I got there. My first impression: african roots music and tribal vocals. There was steady drum beats and story-telling rhythms. I expected it to be your typical cultural program. People of foreign ethnic descent come entertain and educate us about their mission in music. Cool, right?
It was more than cool. The Nile Project isn’t just a music group. It’s a social, environmental and political movement in East Africa to get all the countries that surround the Nile River to become unified and together share the Nile’s resources. The Nile is one of the world’s most iconic rivers being 6,670 kiolmeters long, flowing thorugh diverse climates, landscapes and cultures. The 450 million inhabitants who currently depend on the Nile are projected to double within the next 25 years. This increases the demand for water which is so essential for growing food, powering electricity and overall health. Now, many who live along the Nile are facing water related hardships. Seven out of eleven Nile countires contintue to suffer from undernourishment rates higher than 30 percent. This resource scarcity has contributed to a geopolitical confilict between upstream and downstream states. There is lots of tension around the issue of mutal agreements to govern water distribution. As regional tensions flare, the Nile profect offers a unique grassroots strategy to effectively mobilize thousands of peope across the Nile Basin in constructive cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration.
One of the main mission statements of The Nile Project is to “transform the Nile conflict by inspiring, educating and empowering an international network of university students to cultivate the sustainablity of their ecosystem”. It also incorporates a music program with an expanding pallete of artists from the 11 Nile countries, who are redefining cross-cultural music collaboration. They want to “inspire, inform, and connect Nile citizens to help them collaborate on cultivating the sustainability of the river”. One way they do this is by making beautiful music incorporating the unique and diverse cultures each country offers. They use tales from stories, poetry, instrumental language and of course their extraordinary musical talents to make wonderful works of art share with the world.
They are currently touring the United States right now and even graced ECU with their presence. The environment was the most inviting and I became a fan in less than five minutes of sitting there. Every song was different in story from the other and you could just tell how rich in culture these melodies and lyrics embody. The Nile Project brought a piece of Africa to the stage and I am so grateful that I got to witness it. They put out a new album called Tana earlier this year which I totally recommend checking out. The Nile project has youtube videos of them singing some of their original songs too. On top of sharing music, each of the 12 members wore a diverse range of authentic, traditional clothing and garments from different cultures in Africa. They also incorportate unique native instruments to guide their music.
Overall I’m glad that ECU hosts musical groups like this and look forward to what the future has in store. A huge thanks to The Nile Project for doing the important work that they do. Here is a sample song to listen to if you’re curious:
The Nile Project Website: http://nileproject.org/