We live in a time where cultural heritage is being lost all over the World. Urbanisation, globalisation and digitalisation makes us more curious of future possibilities rather than our history. In some cases when the last person dies, that know the old songs, dances, traditions, stories or craftmanships, that knowledge will be gone forever. In wealthy countries there are resources from institutions and scienctists to safeguard these values, but in developing countries there is no funding for these purposes.
Heritage is the imprint made on us through thousands of years of civilization and culture - and can sometimes be a bit abstract. It's no doubt an important part of the human construction, but we are often not even aware of it's importance to who we are, our values, our principals and our self esteem.
Comparing the challenges that developing countries face, cultural heritage might seem like the smallest problem. But in a longer perspective, if these values are lost, it might not only deprave future generations of their sense of belonging but it might also be the cultural heritage that will attract future tourists to these destinations. If the city of Rome would have decided to tear down Colosseum and build a shopping mall instead, tourists might not have come to Rome at all. So safeguarding cultural heritage on the brink of extinction might be more important than we can imagine today.
We have focused on musical heritage as it has a profound effect on us and has proved to be a powerful tool to make us connect with our past and our origin. In United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #11, it specifically mentions the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage (§ 11.4) for creating a safe and sustainable environment in increasingly densely populated cities. The importance of Music Cultural Heritage for building stable communities and peace is stated by UNESCO.
The sample bar project, in collaboration with Bomas Cultural Centre, will teach children and youngsters about their own and the country's cultural heritage through music. In the sample bar, the visitors can play and remix musical elements from different tribes and cultures, to create a deeper understanding of the differences and the similarities. These young people are the future decision-makers of Kenya who will influence not only their friends and parents but later the whole society. Bomas welcomes 200.000 visitors every year, aiming to increase this number with the Sample Bars in the new musical heritage center.
Kenya has a history of political unrest, not only because of its diversity of ethnic groups and tribes, but also its colonial history and politicians taking advantage of this diversity. From its independence in 1963 Kenya has been regarded as a good example of a relatively peaceful and prosperous country in Africa, but recent years have seen increasing civil unrest and economical instability. Nairobi is a melting pot of people coming from all the different regions of the country. The population has grown from 150.000 in 1950 to a megacity of 5 million today. So we created a team with Kenyans, experts on music traditions soon being lost and creative technologists in Sweden. We went out to a village in the coastal region of Kenya, to Burangi Village, to record the music of 2 local tribes.
Presentation at Swedish Embassy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dIvp3qzxZw
Recording session in Burangi Village - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGlGQFzszJw&t=72s
Demo of the prototype version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMkKxdFXBlk&t=12sa