The Nile Project: making music for peace in the Nile Basin region

Kelly Mancini Becker


The use of music in peacebuilding is a new and emerging field. Yet there is sparse empirical evidence on its outcomes. The Nile Project is a musical collaborative from East Africa that brings together musicians from all of the countries that border the Nile River and is aimed at finding a solution to the dire water crisis in the region. This study explored how musicians from The Nile Project, despite their linguistic, cultural, musical, and political differences collaborated to create a unified sound. Using a combination of qualitative and arts-informed research methodologies, original members of the collective, as well as the co-founder, were interviewed. Observations were also done of the musicians’ rehearsals, performances, and classroom visits at two New England Universities and at their “gathering” in Aswan, Egypt. Findings suggest that an outcome of The Nile Project’s work is that the process of making music with those from diverse musical traditions can act as a way to practice peacebuilding skills. The act of music making encouraged musicians to “bend” in effort to play together often altering or adapting their musical scales. This may have been a chance for musicians to embody “unity in diversity.” This study seeks to add to the limited research on the use of music for peacebuilding offering the musicians’ perspective, which has been identified as a need.


Music; peacebuilding; water conflict; Africa; conflict transformation; Nile River

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