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.


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

Hawo’s Portraiture

It’s not that I closed off my heart, it’s just that I’ve gotten so used.

Sometimes in my life, I have felt discarded. Left behind. At times, it would happen at what seemed to be the most inconvenient moment, when both my ego and heart really couldn’t sustain another setback or disappointment. Just when I was starting to “get it” or “figure it out” (we’re always “figuring things out” or “working on thing”), I would feel the sting of disappointment.


Well, I have figured something out once and for all, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s the realization that, just because we have lost our way or been displaced from what we’ve known in the past, we are just as loveable and just as whole. A great jacket sitting in a lost and found is still a great jacket. A great person having a tough time is still a great person.


“Sometimes a man gets worn thin, on the brink of a break of an almost-there win.”

When the storms of life would roll in on me, I would find myself trying not to collapse too far inward, which seemed lonely. But I also didn’t quite have the energy to take a confident next step to relieve my isolated feeling.

What I discovered while writing was renewed energy in the understanding that I was not alone. I was worthy, always had been, and was no less so just because I felt “lost.”

“You’d be surprised if you’d just look around. You’d find me, find me at the lost and found.“

betam konjo
Wherever the winds of your life may blow you, your true north is always inside you. Even when you’re lost.

Dedication to Safia

Photography :: Joe Lukhovi

Literary photograph

I woke up this morning to heavy fog in Masaka town, during my international art residency in Uganda and the feeling was totally exciting. Felt like part of my life was starting all over again. Here are a couple of images i decided to take within a snap and share with the world about this feeling.

Landscape photography always brings a lot of adventures and wonderful sceneries around the world.

Landscape photography always brings a lot of adventures and wonderful sceneries around the world.

The sun was just minutes away from rising up and I felt the contrast of the clouds and the glowing sunlight would just make a perfect shot for the occasion.

Landscape photography means to capture the beautiful places that have been with out any doubt created by God.

Landscape photography means to capture the beautiful places that have been with out any doubt created by God.

Now this is always a difficult one and I’ve spent a good while trying to work out which images represent something about me rather than just about the things I have found or the light that I saw them in. This is a little strange as they aren’t always necessarily my ‘best’ photographs but I’ve added a little text to each one.

misty morning

Am motivated by an appreciation of the beauty of the natural environment and a desire to see it preserved.

Land may be desert, mountain, plain, ridge etc. For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces. Landscape photography is proposed to show special spaces within the world, sometimes enormous and never-ending, but other times tiny.

Photography ::  Joe Lukhovi

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

Safe Spaces

Case of books

Jackie recreates a corner in the gallery as a library and makes it her own space while greatly engrossed in the book that’s caught her attention. So much so that she forgets the water that’s spilled on the floor amidst live electric wires. This area, which she calls her safe space, gets her in touch with her creative forces and gives her a sense of invisibility. This is a concept she visualized for a photo shoot with me for her upcoming project.

The state of mind

The state of rewarding minds into transformations.

Whether it’s a difficult experience that drives the artist or simply a mind that translates experiences in extraordinary ways, a thing that seems to bind many creatives is the inclination to outwardly express themselves however they feel fit.

In a world of art often filled with empty gestures, it would be easy to dismiss one’s behavior as nothing more than fulfilling the role of the eccentric artist. It’s a character the public has come to expect. But Jackie’s life and work are openly provocative and deeply meaningful.

She has constantly thrown her inner psyche wide open through the art she creates and unknowingly does. She sees herself first as a human being. It’s a label she is more comfortable with. “If I label myself as a woman, I limit myself, because there are things people consider women cannot do.” She is a being who literary made a blanket with the critical words: “I tell people to dream in colour and wake up to a blank canvas.” You start seeing the world in a different light.

Her upcoming collection of works explores the themes of the urban mind, books, libraries and the reading culture in Kenya. Jackie is not, of course, alone in this. The greatest artists across the world and throughout the ages have seen the world in a different way, using that vision to produce thought-provoking work.

More than any other artist in the Impressionist group, Jackie is fascinated by ideas and consciously bases her work on them.

More than any other artist in the Impressionist group, Jackie is fascinated by ideas and consciously bases her work on them.

Their ability to do this rests in their ability to tune into and use their creations in a very different way to most people. Artists are able to be honest about what they go through, to give their experiences a shape and a purpose. Individuals in more practical occupations, the lawyers and the teachers, don’t necessarily value the difficult or the trauma in the same way.

For such an artist, creation is their job. This means a greater sensitivity, a higher awareness of feelings, and the ability to turn ideas into provocative & fascinating works of art.

Photography: Joe Lukhovi

Performance artist, creative writer: Jackie Karuti

Champion-Christ Cycoz

When I originally with this music trio, Christ Cycoz, years back, I really appreciated their humble personality, and I could also tell that they exactly knew what they were doing. My photo session expectations were already steaming up. The alternative hip hop gospel music trio known finally released their latest video for their single, Champion. The group is made up of Ben, Dambiz and KaGz, and was formed in late 2010 after they graduated from Upper Hill School.

christ cycoz_joe

Their latest track was written to bring to light the fact that at times “we”/people look at what we don’t have and let that thought hinder “us” from appreciating what we have. We are all champions in one way or the other. Christ has given us the victory we need. All we have to do is just look a little bit closer. “We hope the track opens every listener’s eyes so that they may realize that they are indeed champions,” the group says.

christ cycoz_lukhovi

As a group, CC of course have extremely diverse tastes in music and what they
strive to do in every jam, is to incorporate these different styles in their
music, giving each one a chance to express themselves without any hindrance. But the major goal that acts as the heart of the group, is to reach out and
minister to the young people in the society so that they can lead positive
lifestyles with God in the driver’s seat letting him take control of their

It was a great pleasure having a photo session with this amazing boy band in Nairobi.

Photography :: Joe Lukhovi

Location :: Pumwani Social Centre – Gikomba