Nile Project electrifies Kampala

05:16 by Kaggwa Andrew
The Nile Project
The Nile project made an interesting debut on the Ugandan World Music live scene. The collective of artistes from different countries of the River Nile basin were performing on the second show of their premiere African musical tour that had kicked off two days earlier in Jinja.
Fans (majorly white) who paid Ushs15,000 and 5000 could not resist to dance and tag  along on catchy words of some of the group’s songs.
In January last year, the Nile Project held its first Nile Gathering in Aswan, Egypt. The gathering didn’t only sell out but also inspired the group’s first project album, Aswan.
A master piece that was named one of the five must hear international albums of the fall by NPR Music, that however was not all, it was also selected for song lines’ Top of the World annual collection.
With such achievements, their second gathering and concert at the National Theatre last week was a must attend.
The concert kicked off at 8pm as scheduled with a welcome song performed by Sophie Nzayisenga, a prolific vocalist and currently credited as the first and only female Inanga player in Rwanda. At the age of six, the songstress was honored and awarded by the French Cultural center for her work, thus, her opener had the feel and energy needed to set the pace for the do.
That performance was followed by a befitting one by Steven Sogo from Burundi; he serenaded crowds with a soulful yet very catchy Kwan Yogo Kuru, armed with an Ikembe, he made his voice and instrument do staff you don’t expect them to do. He sings in Kirundi, Swahilli and French, the languages very few people understood but still danced to whatever he fed us.
Other performers included charismatic Vocalist Alsarah from Sudan, her soulful Manara had many of us think about the worst situations we’ve been through, it’s a song where she talks about building a light house to keep all her secrets and fears - just emotional and touching, then Egyptian Dina El Widedi’s Fi Belad El Agayib, Nader El Shaer’s Kawala performance of the Wonder Trip was simply sensational; a Kawala is a flute like Egyptian instrument that’s played and handled the same way the flute or ndere is.

They are instruments like this that prompt Sogo to say that the Nile Basin countries have a lot in common and thus need to unite than divide, but unlucky for the group, unity among the eleven countries may still be a long shot. 
As they continue the tour to other ten Nile basin countries, some members have been denied Visas to some countries because of their nationality.
There were no Ugandan languages performed since the two locally based members of the Nile project are both instrumentalists, but that doesn’t mean the banana republic wasn’t represented, the duo of Lawrence Okello and Micheal Bazibu; both percussionists, Adungu and Endongo players ceased the moment when they took us on an intensive Kiganda rhapsody that lasted close to fifteen minutes, what missed on this collabo was a dancer to graduate it to a thrilling action packed. The performance was met by ululations from both the crowd and fellow performers.
Lawrence Okello

Michael Bazibu

On songs like Ambassel, Ethiopia’s Endris Hassan was joined by other instrumentalists to unleash the magic of African art; only traditional instruments but sounding like a fully equipped classical quartet meeting Rock and Roll, meeting Afro-fusion and somewhere colliding with DJ Shiru.
When the collective played, at least all the artistes on stage could play an instrument, something that challenges our local artistes that can’t play any, dance and yet their singing too is still questionable.
The Nile project was founded in 2011 in Egypt at the peak of the revolution that ousted Mubarak, the founder, Mina Girgis had returned to join the revolutionists, but later developed a desire to create something bigger than the revolution to bring all the Nile basin countries. The objective was to address the Nile cultural and environmental challenges. Using education and innovation programmes, the project inspires, informs and empowers university students to work together to foster sustainability of the region’s eco system.
This was through a two weeks, Nile workshops at both Kyambogo and International University of East Africa, according to Mina, they are aimed at helping students Nile related development challenges in a more systematic way.
“We want to allow students to reflect on their understanding of their river’s environmental and cultural challenges,” he says.
The project curates collaborations among musicians from the eleven Nile countries to expose audiences to the cultures of their river neighbors.
Part of the fans that turned up for the concert
Like their first gathering, the group is also using this tour to culminate the Nile Project’s already titles but still in production second album – Jinja.


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