The Nile Project musicians recently set sail on their second African tour, performing concerts and leading workshops in Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya. The tour followed the Nile Project’s 4th Nile Gathering, which took place in Aswan, Egypt from 23 January and 9 February
Since its first gathering in January 2013, the Nile Project Collective has grown to feature 34 musicians from the 11 countries sharing the longest river in the world. This year the project invited Ethiopian-American saxophonist and ethnomusicologist Danny Mekonnen as its new Musical Director, as well as eight new artists from across the region: Asia Madani (Sudan), Claude Ciza (Burundi), Endalekachew Nigusie (Ethiopia), Mohamed Kamal (Egypt), Msafiri Zawose (Tanzania), Rapasa Nyatrapasa (Kenya), Roza Kifle (Ethiopia) and Saleeb Lowza (Egypt).
Besides the newcomers, the Nile Project also welcomed back returning musicians Adel Mekha (Egypt), Ahmed Omar (Eritrea/Egypt), Dawit Seyoum Estifanos (Ethiopia), Kasiva Mutua (Kenya), Michael Bazibu (Uganda), Nader El Shaer (Egypt) and Sophie Nzayisenga (Rwanda).
During the 4th Nile Gathering, 15 musicians from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda exchanged musical techniques and collaborated on composing new songs that combine their diverse languages, instruments, rhythms, and modal systems. These new songs will culminate in Tana, the Nile Project’s third album due for release in 2017.
This year, the Nile Project partnered with East African DJ collective Santuri Safari on an electronic music track in parallel with its traditional collaborations. Two electronic music producers, Emile Hoogenhout (South Africa) and Jan Shulte (Germany), joined the Nile Gathering to work on this year’s ‘Nile Remix’. The Gathering ended with a visit by Swiss singer Bastian Baker, who performed with the Nile Project at the Aswan concert on 10 February.
The tour following the Gathering saw the Nile Project musicians perform a series of gigs in Egypt between 10 and 20 February, before moving to Ethiopia for a performance at the National Theater in Addis Ababa on 22 February, and ending with two performances in Kenya, the first at Wilder Fest in the Rift Valley on 25 February and finally a show at the Alliance Francaise Gardens in Nairobi on 28 February.
The tour was also used to launch the Nile Project’s University Programs in Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
The Nile Project also held a series of workshops to engage students in better understanding the social, cultural and environmental dimensions of Nile sustainability. These workshops took place at the Nile Museum in Aswan on 6 February, in Cairo on 16 February, and finally at the Wangari Maathai Institute in Nairobi, Kenya on 29 February. These workshops were also an opportunity for attendees to learn about the project’s Nile Fellowships, a year-long program for 24 student leaders at universities in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Mina Girgis, Nile Project Producer and CEO, said the tour was a great success, despite the obvious challenges. "Touring Africa with artists from eight countries is always challenging. Having produced a four-month tour around the US, I can safely say it's easier to tour North America or Europe, which is why not so many African artists tour around the continent. But this is the mission of the Nile Project - and it's rewarding to see how meaningful our music is to our audiences in East Africa," explained Girgis.
For more information, visit the Nile Project website or watch the video below.