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The Nile Project: Musical group advocates for ecological sustainability

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO

This Saturday, April 15, The Nile Project will perform at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square. The group brings together artists from the 11 Nile basin countries to create music that blends the diverse cultures of some of the earth’s oldest places. Using traditional instruments, over 10 languages and a strong emphasis on community bonds, the group creates some compelling music, all in service to social change.

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Melodies and lyrics are just the beginning for the diverse players. The performances are a mode of raising awareness for The Nile Project’s activist purpose, cultivating the sustainability of the Nile River. Millions of people living in countries along the river don’t have access to the resources they need to live and thrive. The river doesn’t provide enough water to hydrate and sustain food sources for the countries situated along it. The Nile Project works with scholars, ecologists and universities to research ways to grow the surrounding ecosystem.

The latest addition to their project, The Nile Scholars Network, brings together scholars from across the Nile basin to promote interdisciplinary research and discussion about the future of the river, and the people living on it. The network includes Khalid Siddig, an Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Khartoum, Sudan and Abdelfattah Metawie, a professor of water resources management at the National Water Research Center-Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation in Egypt, among many others.

The most important component in both the group’s music and their activism is unity. Disparate sounds that were never meant to be played together have been seamlessly composed into a joyful sonic celebration of life. An Egyptian wooden flute, an oud, African harps, a thumb piano, a saxophone and a choir of voices in various languages belt out what is truly a global music fusion. In their work to create sustainability on the Nile, the group also encourages cultures coming together. A unified front in the face of ecological struggle is essential.

The Somerville performance is a part of The Nile Project’s latest United States tour. They also will be performing in Manchester, New Hampshire on April 22 and Hanover, New Hampshire on April 25, and will be delivering a lecture on nature and the environment in Storrs, Connecticut on April 19. The performance will include music from their newest album “Jinja,” released in January 2017.