The Nile Project is more than a band, more than an event. It’s a collaborative group of 12 musical artists that reflects the cultures of seven countries along the Nile basin, including Egypt, Uganda and Burundi. For one week, the group will be in residency at NC State with various panel discussions, dinners and leadership summits open to the public; however, it’s The Nile Project concert that has propelled the musicians to perform across the globe.
The Nile basin has been the epicenter of a decades-long water conflict where the various governments involved don’t have the capacity to develop cooperative methods, says The Nile Project co-founder and ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis. Many of the countries are unfamiliar with one another; however, music offers an opportunity to cross cultures and collaborate creatively.
“My interest has always been in the way we can use hospitality to create an environment for people to experience music and generate a sense of community,” says Girgis. “We started with the idea in Africa, to spread curiosity and dialogue.”
The idea quickly took root and spread into a global initiative that takes the performers on tour through Africa, the U.S. and Europe. On stage, the musicians play traditional and conventional instruments, and there is no hierarchy— the artists take turns performing in a leadership role.
“As diverse as our audience is—from presidents and prime ministers to kindergarten children —the audience always responds with excitement, positivity, curiosity,” he says, in many ways underscoring the power of music as a common language.