Only a week since I started my #Collections blog series, and I have today discovered a new addition: African music as a platform for transboundary conflict resolution! The Nile Project has officially joined my list of #Collections for two reasons: their mission is so profound I can't help but like them; and secondly, I am so in love with live music.
To the latter, well, truth is, I really don't know any music, and most friends know I have two left feet; however, I am a big fan of live concerts, especially where it involves a band. It is usually my time to choose and pick crashes from the band. It has always happened that I pick someone on an unusual instrument or with an unusual dancing style. In Yod Abyssinia in Addis Ababa, my favourite dancer even noticed how excited I get that he once dragged on stage to dance with him. This place has become a ‘must go’ whenever I am in town. In Ghent, I spent almost twelve hours at a live concert with Lenny and Walter making my night. I recall how women in their thirties and forties went wild as these men performed and so did I, even though I understood none of the Flemish music! And in Nairobi a few years ago, I really did have a crash on Baaba Maal's drummer! Poor him, I didn't speak any French then.
Back to the mission of the Nile Project that beats all of the previous crashes. The Nile Project is transforming the Nile conflict by inspiring, educating, and empowering an international network of musicians and university students from six countries to cultivate the sustainability of their ecosystem. Based on the eleven Nile countries which are always at conflict on the use of River Nile, the project’s model integrates programs in music, education, dialogue, leadership, and innovation to engage musicians, civil society, private sector, and students across disciplines and geographies. The project proposes a new model of hydro-diplomacy that uses music to transform cross-cultural attitudes, generate political will, and foster citizen dialogues and collaborations. It further tackles food challenges across the Nile Basin by engaging an international network of private sector, civil society leaders, and university students.
What intrigues me most is that The Nile Project touches on two of my dearest passions: working with university students and collaborative networks. That combined with quality live music is even more thrilling for me. I thoroughly enjoyed their music, most of which I could not understand the language, but still had so much pleasure listening to their vocals, dancing and clapping along. Of course, like any other concert, I had my picks for the day: Ahmed Omar, an Egyptian/Eritrean on an Egyptian guitar (and who composed one of my favorite songs at the concert), Kasiva Mutua the Kenyan percussionist (who moved the crowd to dance to Singalala a Luo song) and of course the beautiful voice of Adeha Mekha to which I was astonished how beautiful that man could sing and move the crowd!!!
This concert and project has taught me the power and beauty of embracing diversity in conflict resolution. Never before had I listened to such diversity of music with such harmony and high levels of energy. I hope the next phase of this project grows bigger and better, and in particular in working with university students and showcasing conflict resolution to other parts of the continent with transboundary natural resource conflicts.
My Collections journey continues! Look out for the next post on Timbuktu, the place of African scholarship that we rarely hear about!