Lotus of the Nile

at London Design Biennale 2021

Why? Together is better.

Our group of friends from Kenya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and DRC explored the possibilities of collaboration and to show that humanity depends both on nature and technology.

Under the theme 'Resonance' of London Design Biennale 2021, we've created a game that shares sounds from different countries of the Nile.

The Nile river resembles the shape of a lotus. The Lotus is a symbol of rebirth in many cultures.


The Poem: Learn from the Past

The year is 3021.

A group of strangers from separate tribes,

stumble upon a mysterious artefact;

in the form of a lotus, an ancient instrument.

They feel it, and uncover sounds, samples of a distant past,

a coming together, through unity of communities.

They spoke:

"Those things that used to separate us, knowledge, distance, time, we've mastered them all?"

"We're closer than ever, yet so far apart."

"What can we learn from the past?"

The lotus opened up.

"The patterns are recurring," it said.

"Like ripples in a river, no two are exactly the same,

but they all take their turn to wave."

"The two ripples that are most alike,

might just be, one thousand years apart."

"Follow the river. The water. Her fluidity,

her divine ability,

to embrace resistance with grace."

"Everything is born of the past.

We've all hurt, and have to learn,

The future belongs to how we listen."

What we have around us isn't taken, it's a gift.

Materials change, the masks stay the same.

What we pass to our descendants, is what they pass to theirs.

How do we want to be remembered?


The Song: Sampling the Nile

Our friends shared sounds such as the Masenqo from Ethiopia (played by HaddinQo), the sound of the Nile's water from Egypt (provided by YouDesign Lab & Open Architecture Collaborative) and a song about the Blue Nile from Sudan.

With advice from Bengatronics and Mwalimu Gregg Tendwa, the sounds were assembled into an entire piece, produced by Phinoshey.

The Art: African Symbolism

The patterns used for the petals of the Lotus of the Nile are inspired by Afrikan traditions and culture. these include : Afrikan symbology - with symbols inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs, adinkra symbols, instruments, architecture, community and more.

These symbols were etched on walls, some printed on clothes, household items and artefacts. Symbols carried unique meanings to a story or message.

Afrikan traditional lifestyle, including intricate hairstyles, homesteads such as round earth huts, application of Henna as temporary tattoos on the body for special occasions in places such as Sudan Afrikan masks were used in various ceremonies, and were considered a link between humans and supernatural world of the dead and our ancestors.

In Congo, for example, there were many different masks, some that took animal forms, uniting the wearer with animal spirits e.g Bwadi Bwa kifwebe masks of the Songye people in Congo basin , they mix the stripes of a zebra (or okapi), the teeth of a crocodile, the eyes of a chameleon, the mouth of an aardvark, the crest of a rooster, the feathers of an owl and more. socioeconomic activities such as basketry, beading, fishing, herding cattle.

Many Afrikan communities keep cattle, like the Tutsi of Burundi and Rwanda, the Dinka of Sudan, the Karamajong' of Uganda traditional musical instruments like the Nyatiti from Luo community in Kenya, the Drums which were used widely in many Afrikan countries, Appreciation for nature including different animals and plants.

Nature was an important element in Afrikan traditions, with different communities associating features like the river, mountains, and specific trees and animals with supernatural powers.

Humans were meant to coexist in harmony and respect with nature, or otherwise get punished by nature.

Artworks were hand drawn by Naitiemu.


The Game: How does it work?

The game allows us to interact with each sound individually, and uncover some hidden secrets.

Touch the Lotus to uncover sounds of the Nile.


The NFT: Why?

"If a human finds it in 1000 years, will they be able to figure out what it is?"

The Lotus of the Nile NFT artwork is available now.


The People: Who made it?

Produced by

Nairobi Design Week

Designed & Directed by

Adrian Jankowiak

Design Development

Adam Yawe

Art

Naitiemu

Music

Phinoshey

Featured Samples

Artrika (🇸🇩Sudan)

Bengatronics (🇰🇪Kenya, 🇺🇬Uganda, 🇪🇹Ethiopia)

HaddinQo (🇪🇹Ethiopia)

Laissa Malih (🇰🇪Kenya)

Masoud Kibwana (🇨🇩DRC)

Hebatuallah Hendawy - YouDesign Collab (🇪🇬Egypt)

Nairobi Design Week Team

David King'ori

Felix Tao

Shradha Agarwal

Tracy Mwaura

'Kiunga Fire' Album

Executive producers: mwlm. Gregg Tendwa,

Bengatronics & Hivos Foundation,

Project managers: WiBO Culture Artcellerator

Co-producers/Studio Engineers: DJ Mura, Cheb Runner,

Music Director: Udulele John,

Multi Instrumentalist: Michel Ongaro,

Mixing: DJ Mura,

Mastering: Job Issa,

Guest producer: dktr. Wagah,

Guest studio engineer: Ssempeke Albert,

Design: Emerg!ne PR,

Digital Marketing: Joe Ndungu,

Audiovisuals: Kevin Ndegwa,

Special Thanks to

Bengatronics

Hivos & African Crossroads

Open Architecture Collaborative

Hebatuallah Hendawy - YouDesign Collab

Brian Gatemi

Florian Poinsignon

Hadia Roushdy

Ian Abraham

Lisa Kibutu

Makadem

Papillon

All copyrighted materials belong to their respective owners.


Press & Media Information

Get in touch with us at sasa@nairobidesignweek.com for more information.


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