Nile Project | Music of the Nile

A musical project aiming to create spaces for rich cultural interaction between Nile Basin countries launched its music gathering in Nairobi, Kenya at Kuona Trust Arts Centre.

nile project

The second edition of the musical residency — lead by Miles Jay — brings together 14 talented musicians from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda who will, in a collaborative manner, compose a body of songs inspired by the Nile Basin’s diversity in music traditions and instruments.

alsarah performing

This year, the nile project plan was to build on the success of last year by inviting a more diverse pool of musicians, expanding its performance circuit to more Nile Basin countries, and launching the project’s education and innovation programmes at partner universities.

crew

The Nile Project not only utilises music as a common language, to bridge gaps across diverse cultures that exist around the Nile, but also hosts ‘Nile Workshops’ at universities, starting with Egyptian universities in late last year.

south sudan
The African tour set to take place this year’s residency will include not only concerts promoting the new musical collaboration but also talks and workshops on sustainability and development challenges of the Nile at universities in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt.

selam wit
In addition to the workshops, the crew is launching ‘The Nile Prize’ targeted at students who develop innovative solutions to regional challenges. These projects will be supported by the programme over the span of one year.

crying for mother nature

Through music and workshops, the Nile Project sets out to expose audiences to the music of neighbouring countries and offer a space of open dialogue around Nile issues. The project aims to connect the 11 nations, and 437 million people, who live around the Nile but that often fail at recognising themselves as a region.

egyptian music
Due to polarisation in these countries caused by tense political relations and conflicting media coverage, especially recently with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam capturing headlines around the world, the Nile Project attempts to offer an alternative path for dialogue and communication among Nile Basin citizens.

the nile project

This is the Nile Project, celebrating the Nile day at Kuona Trust Arts Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Photography:: Joel Lukhovi

Hawking Vibe

City of Nairobi

Hawking as a survival strategy for the urban poor in nairobi. Nairobi is facing momentous challenges after years of neglect by poor leadership and governance.

street vendor

A street vendor walks past a pedestrian with his merchandise from river road, Kiambu road.

At four o’clock the temperature has dipped enough to break the camp in the city. I clear the dust and sweat from my face and start walking, studying the area around me for a moment. I have to be precise and get the right angle to start my activity within 200m by 200m space. Its the Globe round about, close to the Nairobi fire station.

fire stationSome of the biggest challenges facing urban centres in Kenya today is how to tackle the issues of unemployment, through the provision of viable areas for self-employment opportunities as well as improving the quality, standard of living and infrastructure. The urban spaces are not designed to empower people or provide vibrant places where opportunities for small entrepreneurs and informal activities can trade and manufacture at viable locations.

taking positionNairobi is faced with the challenge of trying to deal with hawkers within their Central Business District (CBD). In most of the cases hawkers have not been allocated space to operate from. Though ignored by planners and harassed by the Local Authority enforcement officers, the hawkers within urban centres, have tended to acquire and control space informally. The situation in the CBD of Nairobi has reached a critical stage.

Hawkers run away from the city council askaris after they appeared from the vicinity.

Hawkers run away from the city council askaris after they appeared from the vicinity.

This raises critical questions about who has the role to designs cities and what procedures do they have to go through. What are the empowering agencies and laws? What role do these assign to hawking and street vending activities? I believe it should not just be about harassing the hawkers but at least being able get the right policies that drive the society.

runawayThe elements of power, control over space and the conflicts that emerge with regards to urban space utilization. This stem in part from the fact that most planning projects are implemented with missionary zeal (to remove hawkers from the CBD) and bear little reference to hawkers’ needs and priorities.

Matatus hekd up in traffic along Tom Mboya street as the city askaris engage the hawkers in a street battle.

Matatus hekd up in traffic along Tom Mboya street as the city askaris engage the hawkers in a street battle.

The short term recommendations are change of altitude and Nairobi city council recognizing the potential of hawking in generating revenues and also providing employment. Improving the infrastructure that are in place to try and harmonize the operation of both the formal activities and the hawkers.

Order has to be restored in the city to have a proper way of doing business.

Order has to be restored in the city to have a proper way of doing business.

Also the idea of allocating traders sufficient trading spaces and providing mechanism for the hawkers to be represented in decision making and lastly reviewing the rules and regulations that hinder the development of the activity.

Photography and text:: Joel Lukhovi

Photographs for Africa: Tanzania

Poa kichizi kama ndizi!

To a visitor the daily life presents itself colorful, lively and mixed up. As a visitor you first have to get used to it. But soon everything will appear in a much sharper focus. In between the many people, you will recognize different persons doing their jobs.

arrival in morogoro

It feels more like a lifetime. A world away from here. Everyday I think about my experiences in Tanzania with longing and wonder. Did it really happen to me? Did I swim in the Indian Ocean, fly over the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, get to know great people from around the region? Did I really walk on the rooftop of Africa? Did I meet and fall in love with some of the greatest kids I’ll ever know, did Moshi, Arusha, Dodoma, Morogoro and Dar really feel like home?

morogoro mountains

 

Did I truly discover some of the harsh realities people face? Will the lessons stay with me forever or will Tanzania slowly fade away? If I’m being honest, how much does that scare me? What will happen next and how can I build on what I know now? How can I reflect my memories, the lessons and truths learned, in my life back home? Well…I am still working on it. Here is what I know now.

the hills across

People say that this is an experience of a lifetime. And it is, I do not wish to take one moment I had in Tanzania for granted. But for me I feel like that phrase falls flat. They don’t describe what I have felt or seen, they do not encompass all of the quirks, joys, fears, and beauties that have existed for me. I know that I can not sum up Tanzania in four words or less, I guess that is why I have written this much.

bus station

 

You have heard about it, experienced it, and seen it along with me. Perhaps you have felt some of my happiness, sorrows, and excitement. And maybe you now have the desire to seek the unknown or help where you have never thought you could. It was my hope and reason for documenting my days across the neighbouring nation.

taxi stop

I encourage everyone to leave behind what they know, to experience a new world and reality. It will open you up to all kinds of possibilities you never imagined, for instance interacting with all the new communities i got to meet in search of a life with my camera. Yet I know that these trips are not possible for everyone. And for those of you whose lives are going down different paths than my own, there are still many ways to discover the world, because we can all make a difference no matter where we are.

masai warriors

But more than just the struggles and hardships, I have seen the importance of putting people and relationships before money and possessions, a love for nature and the outdoors, and the need to appreciate the little things. Living in another culture lets you absorb all of the good things it has to offer. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see both the good and the bad.

dar in the morning

The most common way to get around in Tz, is to use dala dala. Buses of various sizes and brands. All of them have one thing in common: they are always overcrowded. It’s fascinating to see the variety of baggage and freight: from living chickens to 50 kg sacks of rice on the roof or anywhere else. Passengers must be masters of self-control: sitting closely together, skin to skin even at high temperatures, tolerating all with peace and serenity. It’s an adventure to get out from such a vehicle at rush hour.

crowded daladala

A more pleasant way is to drive with bajaja. Particularly in Dar es Salaam it is the preferred mode of commuting, these three-wheel motorcycles, where the guests are sitting in the rear passenger compartment, almost as the British royal couple in person. So elegantly chauffeured around, most destinations will be reached faster than with cars which tend to be stuck in traffic jams. The skilled drivers know a lot of short ways. However, it may happen that you are bound to lend a hand to cross an obstacle at a construction site.

cyclist

Tanzania is a liberal country when it comes to the acceptance of different religious opinions. Believers of the great world religions live peacefully side by side. The belief in ancestors and other convictions are also tolerated.

bus terminas

For many people music is the purpose of life, at least it belongs inseparably to the way of life. Regardless that some cars are almost wrecks, they will surely have good music equipment.  Sometimes you get the impression that the car windows bend outside due to the massive sounds from the radio. Tanzanian music is melodious and swinging.

sunset in arusha

At the coastal region you will hear the typical TAARABA sound. Mzee Yusuf is one of the famous interpreters of this music style. It’s a style that is full of life.

Photography & Text:: Joel Lukhovi

Arusha, Moshi, Dodoma, Morogoro, Dar es Salaam

Laba Street Art Fest

Its Kampala, Uganda and its the Laba!

laba street fest

The show was amazing and the people full of energy. I wanted to post this images while in Uganda, but time was not on my side with the tight schedule of events I had on me. Above all, the travel in Uganda was worth it and i cannot shy away to say and thank all the wonderful people that hosted me while in this beautiful country.

sekolliville

But here are some of the images I thought might interest you the viewers across all the corners of the world.

drum beating

With its motto “Open Studio”, the LaBa ArtsFestival ’s seventh edition aim was to give visitors the opportunity for a look behind the scenes, in the art making process. The process of artistic production is important here, not just the finished product.

face piercing

But the creative bunch of around 60 individual artists were merely not working while the others can watch them, but engaged the public in their projects, designed just for the day.

fashion parade

The organizers added the element of the fashion parade that attracted a huge crowd of participants including the above models who chose to include the dog in the parade. A lot of glamour and passion for fashion.

dancing up

These men choose to have an installation of the big balls moving up and down in the air as they kept moving. Its an art group from the region of Kampala. I basically tried to understand their installation but somehow i got lost. Above all, the group impressed the people who came over.

malkia

Her performance was full of energy and moved the crowd to the top. I wish i had a better way of elaborating this but the image will do the talking for me.

say whatShe marveled and charmed the crowd all the way from the start to the end. Uganda has got talent indeed and this was only happening at the Laba street art festival.

lets take a moment

The music stage featured newcomers and some of Uganda’s finest artists of various music genres, adding on to the general diversity of the festival – Mackinnon Road which remained closed for the rest of the day was both dream, glamour and dance.

reggae queen

Her name is Efi and she is full of wonders and passion for her artistic gift. She was the Mcee as well as a musician who is full of determination.

over her

I love this photo. Not for because some awesome moment at a concert. It’s just a clean, sharp picture and that was really hard to get at the greatly crowded place that rarely allowed me to move around at the venue.

the end
The end of the show came, hours after midnight and it was time for me to say goodbye. I hope to photograph the next Laba street art festival and am more than excited to all the wonderful people I got to interact with. Blessings

Photos: Joe Lukhovi

Location: Kampala, Uganda

Camp Ndegeya

Hey, so my second day at Weaver bird community for arts welcomed me with some of the amazing scenaries that I got to meet. Am hoping to have a wonderful moment and stay in this wonderful town of Masaka in Uganda, as I work on shaping my photography.

my bodaboda is an art installation at camp ndegeya.

My bodaboda is an art installation at camp ndegeya.

Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant, you know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on ant auto-pilot with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there.
ndege ya akili
All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?” “Credit or debit?” “ant or art” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw, I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me.
My seating postion at the community arts village.

My seating postion at the community arts village.

I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be an ant, you know?
Photography:: Joe Lukhovi
Location:: Ndegeya village, Masaka- Uganda

Peace train

Kenyans will soon go to the polls and elect their new president. The last time that happened in 2007, the balloting ignited deadly ethnic tensions. Weeks of violence left more than a 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of Kenyans left homeless.

kibera walls of peace

The ethnic tension was particularly toxic in the Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa in the heart of Nairobi. It is the focal point of rival ethnicity and unemployed youth. Hoping to avoid a repeat of that violence, a Brooklyn artist and educator Joe Bergner launched a project that uses graffiti art to encourage peace and unity against ethnicity and political groups. Its called Kibera walls for peace.  He engaged youth from Kibera Hamlets to paint peace murals around Kibera.

the peace train

They approached and worked with the local authorities at the Rift Valley railways to use the commuter trains as a canvas to spread peace messages and togetherness on the local commuter train. The train was a major target of the previous post election violence, especially the part that goes through Kibera.

inside the coach

It surely didn’t hurt that authorities at Rift Valley Railway recall what happened after the previous election, when mobs of youth literally tore up the train tracks that connect Kenya and Uganda and sold them for scrap metal.

martin luther king jnr spray

Rift Valley Railways has a lot of interest in keeping peace with the citizens in this election. So the idea of having graffiti artists come on board to spray the 10 coaches was an idea well received, since most of the Kibera dwellers use the commuter train to and from work. It’s their main means of transport. Many Kenyans use this train in the morning and evening for their daily hustle.

wangari mathaai

The train – one of the first to showcase officially authorized graffiti – travels through the massive Nairobi slum of Kibera advertising peace. As an entirely new concept, the artists’ goal is to capture the attention of spectators as never before, prompting them to view it analytically during voting time.

shine

A portrait of Martin Luther King Jnr and the Kenyan flag grace the last coach. The message reads from the front to the back and looks like a sentence that’s beautifully crafted. Tuwache ukabila…tuwache ubaguzi…tuishi kwa amani. Bankslave painted the Obama face.

Lets vote and above all lets uphold peace amongst ourselves.

Lets vote and above all lets uphold peace amongst ourselves.

As one narrates, “We have a lot of scars in our past and especially in the last election and there is a lot of hidden grudge that cannot be seen but we have to paint this train to encourage and promote tolerance. We have to put it in their face and let them know that its not all about tribes, killing and shedding blood.”

tuishi kwa amani

It’s a big message that reads to the people and relays the direct message of STOP! DON’T HURT US AGAIN! Lets bring peace to the society and embrace each other.

Residents of Kibera are both surprised and touched by seeing this commuter train that always looks so dreary turned into a rolling art gallery that was free and open to. It is a great gesture by these artists to bring something positive and up lifting leading up to the elections.

my kenya

Preventing a repeat of this crisis is the main objective. Bankslave, was born in Kibera and still lives there. He sees dozens of official billboards around the city promoting peace but says they don’t have the power to speak to Kibera youth and Kenyans at large like street art can.

Photography and text: Joe Lukhovi

Location: Nairobi Commuter Railways and Kibera railways

State burial

The 10th parliament concluded its business yesterday, bringing to a close a chain of dishonourable acts by MPs. The most recent, and perhaps most shameless act was these MP’s proposal to award themselves millions of shillings send-off deal that included state funerals. All these would be concluded at the expense of taxpayers.

protest one

Because president Kibaki declined to assent to the retirement benefits bill 2013, which favoured MPs, Kenya ni Kwetu lobby and the rest of the Kenyans took a step ahead to honour our MPs’ request for a state burial. “And this was done in a manner that befits the notoriety of their brazen request. Providing coffins to bury our beloved Members of Parliament! But they were not sent to the grave alone. To accompany our MPs’- in these coffins- is their insatiable appetite for public funds.

protest two

In this symbolic burial, we are laying to rest some 221 caskets. We torch these caskets to signify the end of one era and the birth of another: our aspired renewal as a country! We see this as an appropriate gesture for an important reason: there is no more room to bury our dead. The Lang’ata cemetary is full. And remember that city hall lost millions of shillings that was meant for the purchase of a new cemetary in Mavoko municipality.

the cemetary

It was rather surprising that president Kibaki, while rejecting the MPs’ pay deal, retained his own hefty retirement package. Moreover, the failure of his administration to rein in grand corruption remains a blot in what many see as credible efforts to grow the country’s economy.

kwame

Our quest for renewal couldn’t have come at a better time: elections are at hand, and Kenyans have the opportunity to instigate a ballot revolution.

let them die

Kenya ni Kwetu works to enable a patriotic citizens’ movement to take bold and effective actions in building a new kenya. Our vision is to foster unity among youth and to inspire them to pursue social and political change through peaceful elections.

Photography:: Joe Lukhovi

Kenya ni Kwetu; Nairobi