The Nile music collective
After a visit to Tahrir Sqaure, Egypt, during the Arab Spring, Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis began to think of ways to contribute to the development of his homeland. He came up with the idea of The Nile Project, an initiative aimed at bringing together musicians from the eleven East and North African countries along the Nile River (the world’s longest river at 4,200 miles) to raise awareness on social, political and environmental issues common to them.
In August 2011, Girgis collaborated with Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero for the launch of the project. Based on a shared ecosystem, the project has worked with musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt, connecting about 400 million people living in the region through music and other initiatives.
The Nile Project on tour
In January 2013, The Nile Project held its first major concert, the Nile Gathering, in Egypt. Its first album, recorded live in concert, was named ‘Aswan’, after the Egyptian city where the concert held. It featured 18 artists from six countries singing in 11 languages. The trans-border project used music to explore and preserve the common identities of the Nile people.
The project’s second album, ‘Jinja’, was recorded in 2015 during their tour of the United States of America. The album features artistes from Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi, Egypt, Tanzania and Sudan. Some of the musicians that have participated in the initiative’s various tours are Adel Mekha, Ahmed Omar, Asia Madani, Hani Bedair, Dina El Wedidi, Kasiva Mutua, Lawrence Okello, Mohamed Kamal, Roza Kifle and Steven Sogo.
Since their first tour, The Nile Project has held several concerts in Africa, the Middle-East, United States and Europe, their latest being a tour of Europe in June 2016, attracting thousands of fans.
Before going on tour, members of the collective get together in residency to develop music around its area of activism. The resulting music incorporates sounds, instruments and genres from all participating countries.
Besides music, The Nile Project also works with local cultural and development organisations and universities to develop and implement educational programmes to increase knowledge of the Nile and issues surrounding it.