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April 11th 2013

The Nile Project is Connecting People and Overcoming Water Conflict with Music

The Nile Project is a unique organization with an ambitious mission: to address the Nile basin’s cultural and environmental challenges using an innovative approach that combines music, education and an enterprise platform. 

Party Corps interviewed Nile Project co-founders Mina Girgis and Meklit Hadero in preparation for our April 24, 2013 Music for Good forum event, which will deepen the exploration of their project and feature Meklit’s spellbinding music. 

Mina and Meklit shared with us the origin of the visionary Nile Project.  In a region rife with decades of cultural, environmental and economic challenges the Nile Project is creating cross-cultural music collaborations, unique learning activities and supporting training and support of East African entreprenuers who are developing holistic strategies to a range of societal challenges.

The Nile Gathering in January 2013 marked the Project's official launch.  This groundbreaking event brought together musicians, cultural leaders, educators and community stakeholders from the eleven countries that are supported or have been historically impacted by the Nile River. Over the course of four days, participants attended and co-led workshops on topics that included water sustainability, economic and cultural competency, agricuture and tourism. Co-founders Mina Girgis and Meklit Hadero saw this as an opportunity to bring together voices that are frequently ignored or excluded into the conversation. "It's historical for something like this to happen outside the role of governent," Girgis explained. "It's rare that solutions are discussed among the people that will be most directly impacted."

In addition to solution-focused discussions, the gathering included a two week musical residency that cultivated multiple cross-disciplinary musical collaborations, culminating in a recorded concert that will be made available for purchase in the coming months.  "People were crying and dancing and some people said it was the best concert they had ever heard," Girgis commented. Through exposure to diverse musicans, styles and instruments from the eleven Nile countries, the local audience gained rare insight into the perspectives of their river neighbors.

The Nile Project believes that storytelling and song can help humanize relevant environmental challenges and foster cultural empathy that will help the Nile region ease geo-political tensions, building cultural and environmental unity in East Africa.  The Nile Project is a project of Zambaleta, a San Francisco based world music institute.  With hugely challenging water use issues at play in both California and the Nile region, the Nile Project will help to open conversations about local water issues and to mobilize expertise and resources to address the cultural and environmental challenges of the Nile basin.

Posted by Olivia Swilley
       

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