Remember when I interviewed Bay Area based singer/songwriter Meklit Hadero about their kickstarter campaign? Well I was serious when I said I wanted to go!
I am in Aswan, Egypt, located in the Southern part of the country, home to the Aswan Dam, the High Dam, The Philae Temple and the region where the ancient Egyptians quarried the stones used to build the Pyramids in Cairo. The people here are Nubian, the food is yummy, the weather is mild, the internet isn't reliable, I'm sure I am getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and the River is beautiful. I will be in Aswan until January 29th, then in Cairo for a few days to produce some concerts and then I travel to Israel to visit family.
So, why am I here? I am volunteering for the Nile Project. In a nutshell, the Project is seeking to bring the people of the Nile River (consisting of 11 countries) together and encourage them to rethink of the River as a communal lifeblood and common eco-system. It is an ethnomusicologists dream. Music is wonderful, and it makes people feel beautiful things. But adding an extra level of this kind of community engagement and humanitarian dream is something I couldn't pass up being a part of.
This first of many residencies to come has two parts. The first part, that has just ended, brings together scholars, musicians, scientists, conflict resolvers, engineers, educators, community organizers, etc. from across the globe (Africa, North America, Europe and Asia were all represented). As of today (Tuesday January 15th) most of these people have left Aswan.
musicians will begin arriving representing the eleven Nile basin region. They will write music inspired by the Nile River and perform this music at the end of the month both in Aswan and in Cairo. There will also be an audio recording.
I am here to help in anyway I can. So far I have co-written an article for a English language Sudanese website. I have also had my camera out as much as possible contributing to the facebook and twitter pages.
It has been amazing listening and learning from these talented and motived people from across Eastern Africa. Check out the photos below. They are all beautiful people and I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with them.
This is the most expensive horse ride I've ever been on. I had many hours to kill in Cairo before flying to Aswan, so I decided to take a cab down to the pyramids. They hoodwinked me into riding a horse and spending more money that I should have... but alas, when in Cairo...
The Fekra Cultural Center, where I am staying for the 2.5 weeks
Meeting in the tent
A local musician hanging out showing off his homemade string instruments.
Meklit Hadero (one of the Bay Area founders) and me on the Nile
Elephantine Island - Populated by Nubians displaced by floods caused by the construction of the High Dam. There are beautiful wall treatments all over the Island.
Arty. One of the Nile Project organizers brought her. She's being fostered and is encouraging me to take her home. There are so many stray dogs in Egypt, for realz, let me know if you're interested. This chicky is a sweetheart. And it sounds like international adoption (of pets) isn't too difficult.
Folks meet on the top of the Fekra Center overlooking the Nile.
The living room of the AMAZING apartment I stayed at for the first three days.
This is a trashcan. No joke.
Check out this video blog tour of the apartment. Don't laugh too hard at me. I had just woken up. I was trying to be quiet because people were still sleeping and I have a cold :)
Rooftop with the Nile behind
Nile Project co-founder Mina Girgis shares a laugh with Ali Askouri from Sudan (we co-wrote this article together)
A map of the Nile Basin, covering eleven countries.
In the Nubian village, they also must summon Batman from time to time.
Abeer (Egyptian) and Barbara (American)
Meklit (Ethiopia via USA), Abdi (Kenya) and Lama (Egypt).
Moses (Uganda) and Ezekiel (Kenya)
Awesome wall art in Aswan
All the cabs in Aswan are from the 70s. I love them.
The High Dam, which the USSR helped to build
Jen and me at the High Dam overlooking Lake Nassar. We originally met at a pool party last summer in the Bay Area. She's now researching the social effects of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia.
Egyptian FEAST for every meal.
Lunch at Anakato Hotel
Hibiscus sweet tea
Stay tuned for more to come. I will also be posting more photos on facebook.