Field Notes: Expediton #K2K – Okavango Delta, Botswana

CM Highlights Transboundary Water Issues in the Okavango

Following a thriving month in Pretoria, South Africa, Conservation Music (CM) headed to Botswana to combat transboundary water issues in the Okavango Delta for Expedition #K2K. We gathered artists from Gaborone and then headed to Maun, where we set off in mekoro (traditional canoes) for a four day wilderness expedition. This deep immersion into the local environment and culture made for a great month of eco-production and education. Take a look at Episode 9 of CM’s Webseries: On The Beating Path, which shares highlights from our field work, allowing you to trek with us throughout the entire experience! Check out more of CM’s stories and videos on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

Redefining Music as an Educational Tool with Local Artists

In Gaborone, we linked up with our new friend Stan who hosted us for the first week. He commonly hosts backpackers and travelers alike, yet his hospitality served great purpose for CM, as it allowed us to ground into the community and establish a core group of local musicians for the eco-song collaboration. First, we met with Tomeletso Sereetsi, a big name in the local scene who revolutionized the four-string sound by incorporating unique jazz chords. Then Tom recommended Gaone Rantlhoiwa, a local female singer with an unbelievable voice and wide array of styles. With our two main artists on board, we moved smoothly into the composition phase. The production crew sounded the melodies and rhythms, while Tom and Gaone wrote the lyrics. Inspired by the Okavango Delta’s transboundary water issues, the lyrics naturally called to bordering countries to preserve the delta’s diverse presence of life.

“I believe music is a really powerful tool. It’s the one thing I know that really unites people. It makes it easier for people to be receptive to messages because we all don’t like great talkers, so people talk all the time but people don’t listen… With music it’s really great because people are bound to listen and bound to enjoy the message. So it’s a tool that really should be used for community mobilization and community education. I think we should be doing more and more of that; using the power of the arts to bring people around issues and talk about them. I’ve seen this happen even in my own music…people are more likely to discuss issues that are taboo when the issues are in a song. It can be a beautiful ice-breaker! Artists have this artistic license and they can say stuff that most people don’t usually say and listeners can then talk about it because it is in the context of a song. They don’t realize they are talking about issues, they think they are just discussing a song. So I think music is a really powerful vehicle that we should be using more than we are actually doing right now.” ~Tomeletso Sereetsi | Gaborone, Botswana

As we moved forward into tracking, Tom linked us with Leroy Nyoni, an amazing sound engineer at Village Sound Studios. Leroy not only helped us with recording the song, but also added a back beat with incredible drumming. Field crew members Jake Taylor and Chris Volosevich, rounded it out with a few of their own bass and electric guitar phases. As the crew finalized tracking, CM Founder Alex Paullin flew to Canada to participate in a Summit Series entitled “Cultivating the Globally Sustainable Self” for a few days, where he discussed environmental sustainability with academics and practitioners from around the world.

With Alex back in the field, and production progressing, we geared up for the ten hour drive north to Maun, a city just outside the Okavango Delta. Upon arrival we settled into the Old Bridge Backpackers lodging, where we met with Matthew Merritt, CM’s Outreach Manager from the United States. Matthew spent two years in Lesotho with the Peace Corps, and now recruits for the Peace Corps, while volunteering for CM by inspiring stakeholders, sponsors, and partners to join the movement. Integrated into his six week backpacking trip through Southern Africa, Matt hopped aboard CM’s field crew for a few weeks to help with this month’s project. His experience in the field greatly benefited CM, and is one that he will carry back to the states. Connect with us to learn how to become a remote volunteer for CM.

Poling Into the Delta’s Wilderness

Early the following morning, we loaded into safari vehicles, linked with our guides, and headed towards the delta for four days of video shooting, cultural exchange, and nature immersion. After a two hour drive, we arrived at the launch station and transferred into mekoro, which are traditional canoes that we used to travel to each campsite. With production gear, instruments, an off-grid solar studio, volunteers, and artists in tow, we loaded seven mekoro and set off for our journey. As we weaved through the narrow waterways, we encountered herds of elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras, hornbills and many other bird species. After long days of poling deep into the bush, we set up camp, recorded delta-inspired vocals, and filmed location shoots for the music video. At night we filmed more vocals by the fire, which was intentionally built large to keep the animals away as we slept. We shared delicious food, stories, and various improv jam sessions with the guitar, ukulele, and djembe. Tom and Gaone even had the chance to debut their song in Setswana, a Bantu language closely related to Sesotho, to an audience of local guides who then provided feedback and stimulated further discussions on the future of the delta waterways. It is such a reward when the educational ability of music can be seen first hand.

Field Recap from Matthew Merritt:

“The conversations held around the fire following the song were groundbreaking. It was then that we discovered that while the guides and polers had spent their whole lives on the delta, they were unaware that the water originated in Angola. It wasn’t until they heard the song that they asked questions about where the water came from and what was happening to cause the waters to lower. This was the reason we were here; to bring environmental education to rural communities in need. It was iconic and something I will never forget.”

With each rising sun, we set out by foot on guided safaris to explore the area and seek out wildlife. We encountered mixed herds of giraffes, zebras, antelope, ostriches, and elephants. The elephants made for the most memorable experiences as we witnessed a herd of over fifty travelling together, as well as unknowingly trekking into the wrong territory and getting false charged by one from the side. Luckily, everyone walked away safely with a humbling reminder of nature’s power. We followed up with supplementary filming, including shots for Gaone’s location shoot and a few ad-libs from Tom. On the last day we set out for one last shoot to wrap up filming before heading back to Maun.

CM’s Lesotho Chapter Lands a Grant

Earlier this year, our first local chapter Conservation Music Lesotho was built by local volunteers. Led by four women, the chapter landed its first grant this month, which will directly support local screenings of CM content to further educate students and rural citizens around the country. This is a landmark achievement for both the local chapter and the CM movement at large. Each step further proves that our scalable vision for a global network of self-sustaining chapters and implemented partners is viable. We are very proud of our local chapter and excited to see what the future holds!

Spreading Awareness

We landed back at the Old Bridge Backpackers lodging and connected with our good friends Helene Forward and Stiger Sola Molefi. Helene is a multi-talented artist, who also owns the Old Bridge Backpackers. Stiger has been performing in and around Botswana for decades and it’s always an honor to spend time with him. Together, we composed and recorded the song’s finishing touches, as Helene added flute and fiddle and Stiger closed out the track with his four-string guitar. With the month coming to a close, Helene allowed us to perform at the Old Bridge Backpackers, where we were able to share our message and collect some gas money for the road to Zambia. The performance was a beautiful memory to end on as we jammed with Helene and other new friends beneath a fig tree on the Thamalakane River. This month was packed with fulfilling work, intense wilderness expeditions, and countless memories. After we said our goodbyes, we hit the road for Livingstone, Zambia, where we were set to take on leg six of Expedition #K2K. Stay tuned for more stories!

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term field work, and it is by far the most exciting. To learn more about CM, and to stay connected throughout the mission, please subscribe to our Newsletter below, check out our blog on National Geographic, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For live updates from the field, be sure to check out our page on National Geographic’s newest digital journalism platform, OpenExplorer. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music.

About Conservation Music

Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation

of Conservation Music

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.

About the Editor

Alex Paullin

of Conservation Music

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.

Conservation Music’s 2018 Mid-Year Review

Welcome to our 2018 Mid-Year Review!

As a global community, it is our responsibility to take care of one another and the planet that we all inhabit together. Over the past six months at Conservation Music (CM), we have continued to empower music as a tool to spread this message across the globe and radiate a sustainable beat from the motherland, Africa. Join us on Expedition #K2K, as we trek from Cape Town, South Africa to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, to create thirteen globally-inspiring eco-songs and music videos with local artists in local languages.

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term field work, and it is by far the most exciting. To learn more about CM, and to stay connected throughout the mission, please check out our blog on National Geographic, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For live updates from the field, be sure to check out our page on National Geographic’s newest digital journaling platform, OpenExplorer. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

Expedition #K2K

Year after year, as we trek through Southern Africa’s environmentally threatened areas, our voice grows louder and our mission spreads further. Messages of climate change, land management, water scarcity, and tree planting spread from the hearts of local artists and NGO’s. Here are a few of our latest stories and eco-productions from 2018:

Cape Town, South Africa

In late February, we finalized administrative work in the United States and then flew to Cape Town, South Africa to kick off leg one of Expedition #K2K. Our first project aimed to raise awareness on Cape Town’s water crisis, an issue rapidly heading towards #DayZero. Learn more about the issue by heading to the Day Zero Dashboard. Throughout the production, we worked closely with local artists to record eco-song and music video, “Day Zero.” Our new friend and owner of Africa Sun Studios, Philip Pells, graciously shared his home, studio, and sound engineering expertise for the production of the track. Tune into Episode 5 of CM’s Webseries: On The Beating Path, as we recap on March and take you through the drying Theewaterskloof Dam, a hopeful Philippi Township, and the rebounding Platbos Indigenous Forest. (Read More on Leg 1)

CM’s eco-production, “Day Zero,” featuring Jack Mantis Band, Gershan Lombard: KhoisanBoy.Man, and Chuma Preshy Mgcoyii, was recorded this past March to raise awareness on Cape Town’s water crisis. After three years of catastrophic drought conditions, Cape Town was hit by intense flash floods. As the conditions continued to get worse, Mmusi Maimane, of the Democratic Alliance political party, announced that #DayZero would be pushed past the end of 2018. Their plan is to desalinate ocean water, a practice which can cause significant environmental damage. CM encourages decentralized grassroots solutions to these issues. As Cape Town’s population continues to grow, the people will need to continue their grassroots action to ensure a better future.

Tlokoeng, Lesotho

In early April, CM kicked off leg two of Expedition #K2K with a 12-hour drive from Cape Town, South Africa to Maseru, Lesotho. A few weeks prior to our arrival, Lesotho’s climate swung from harsh droughts to historic rain and hail storms, highlighting exactly why we are here. Our focus for the month resided in the rural village of Tlokoeng, where our music theme was set to raise awareness on “Rural Water Challenges,” a project in partnership with Conservation Music Lesotho and Professor Tsepo Mokuku from the National University of Lesotho (NUL). The second leg concluded in the village, with a community screening of the eco-production and a brief impact evaluation to compare to the pre-evaluations taken earlier in the month. Our final days were filled with unity, as we all gathered to celebrate a successful song and music video, one that the Tlokoeng community can be proud to share with generations to come. Take a visual leap into CM’s fieldwork by checking out Episode 6 of CM’s Webseries: On The Beating Path. (Read More on Leg 2)

CM’s eco-production, “Metsi A Rona” (“Our Water”), featuring members of the Tlokoeng village community in northern Lesotho, was produced to share true stories of Tlokoeng’s deep history of droughts and harsh storms. We were assisted by Conservation Music Lesotho, Professor Tsepo Mokuku from the NUL, and several local artists. In this production, people living in Tlokoeng tell their own stories in their own way, using Famo music to highlight their rural water challenges. The music video was shot atop a nearby mountain, once home to the Batlokoa people who lived inside its giant caves. We wrapped up the shoot in the valley below, surrounded by sorghum, maize, rivers, and dongas. We are so grateful to have spent such quality time in Tlokoeng, and are eager to return and continue our collaboration with the community!

Pretoria, South Africa

For the month of June, CM headed to Pretoria, South Africa, to complete Leg 4 of Expedition #K2K. Through the month, we worked with Greenpeace Africa and Projekt 23 – Greening Our Communities to spread environmental awareness throughout the cities, create eco-music, and educate the younger generations to build brighter future. In recent years, the water infrastructure in Pretoria has aged to the point of irreversible leakages and contamination. With growing stresses from population increases and mining activities, this issue has become more urgent than ever and poses a massive threat to the future of the northern communities of South Africa. Assisted by a wide-range of talented artists, we created the eco-song, “Protect Our Water,” to inspire action regarding socio-political disputes about the distribution and protection of dwindling clean water resources. Take a visual dive into our fieldwork by watching Episode 8 of CM’s Webseries: On The Beating Path. (Read More on Leg 4)


CM’s latest eco-production, “Protect Our Water,” features the students of Tlakukani Primary School, Xolani “Haikuu” Mhlanga, Thabiso Thabethe, Tribute “Birdie” Mboweni, accompanied by instrumentalists Albert Craftsman, Taelo Mpatsi, Gally Ngoveni, and Thulani Sithela. The track was recorded at Haikuu’s house in Pretoria, South Africa, and the Oakfields College Lynnwood Campus Studio. The music video was shot on location at Haikuu’s house, Slovo Village, the #DefendWater Greenpeace Africa mural in downtown Johannesburg, and Pretoria National Botanical Gardens. This song was produced to inspire action regarding issues surrounding clean water resources. In recent years, the water infrastructure in Pretoria has aged to the point of irreversible leakages and contamination. This is alarming, considering billions of Rand are required in order to curtail this crisis. The population in the Gauteng region is growing by the thousands each month, adding further stress to the infrastructure. Additionally, according to Greenpeace Africa, the major South African mining companies aim to utilize more of the already decreasing water supply for their new mining initiatives. The need to address this issue has become more urgent than ever and poses a massive threat to the future of the northern communities of South Africa. In this production, the artists from Pretoria share stories and warnings of the inescapable water crisis to come and urge listeners to increase and sustain their awareness, so as to prevent their beautiful landscape from becoming more desolate and arid.

Next Phase

As we moved into the second quarter of 2018, the team wrapped up a strong leg five in Botswana, and heads to Zambia to begin leg six. For the month of July in Botswana, we worked with Tomeletso Sereetsi, a big name in the local scene, and Gaone Ranthloiwa, a local female singer with an unbelievable voice and wide-range of skill. Together, our goal is to build awareness around trans-boundary water issues in the Okavango Delta, by calling upon Botswana and its neighboring countries to come together to preserve the delta. With music and environmental projects on our minds, we had to remain aware for the large wildlife that live about the locations we camped and recorded footage in. Stay tuned to hear more about our eco-music production, work within the communities, and close experiences with elephants and hippos!

Get Involved & Donate

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term field work, and it is by far the most exciting. To learn more about CM, and to stay connected throughout the mission, please subscribe to our Newsletter below, check out our blog on National Geographic, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For live updates from the field, be sure to check out our page on National Geographic’s newest digital journaling platform, OpenExplorer. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music.

About Conservation Music

Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation

of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.

About the Editor

Alex Paullin

of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.

 

Field Notes: Expedition #K2K – Pretoria, South Africa

Exploring Climate Issues in Pretoria

For the month of June, Conservation Music (CM) headed to Pretoria, South Africa to complete Leg 4 of Expedition #K2K. Through the month, we worked with Greenpeace Africa and Projekt 23 – Greening Our Communities to spread environmental awareness throughout the cities, create eco-music, and educate the younger generations to build a brighter future. In recent years, the water infrastructure in Pretoria has aged to the point of irreversible leakages and contamination. With growing stresses from population increases and mining activities, this issue has become more urgent than ever and poses a massive threat to the future of the northern communities of South Africa. Assisted by a wide-range of talented artists, we created the eco-song, “Protect Our Water,” to inspire action regarding socio-political disputes about the distribution and protection of dwindling clean water resources. Take a visual dive into our fieldwork by watching Episode 8 of CM’s Webseries: On The Beating Path.


For this leg of Expedition #K2K, we moved into the headquarters of X Factor Crafts and Nosh Food Rescue, owned by our friend Hanneke. This brilliant conservationist and homesteader invites backpackers from all over the world to her house, where her lush gardens provide for homemade teas, oils, kombuchas, and tinctures. We couldn’t be happier with our accomodations for the Pretoria leg of the journey! Check out more of CM’s stories and videos on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform.

CM’s Crew Brings Life to a New Collaboration

To gain clarity for this month’s eco-song collaboration, we headed to a nearby park to meet with longtime friend, conservationist, talented singer, and Founder of Projekt 23, Tribute “Birdie” Mboweni, and her music director, Thulani ST Sithela. Together, we envisioned the song’s composition and then split ways, so that we could trek to Winterveld to meet our longtime friend Thabiso Thabethe and invite him to join the song. With need for one more vocalist to join the trio, Thabiso linked us to Xolani “Haikuu” Petrus Mhlanga, a multi-instrumentalist, rapper, filmmaker, and producer, who also graciously allowed the collective to use his garage as a session space in Waterkloof.

On June 6th, World Environment Day, we met with Greenpeace Africa and Projekt 23 – Greening Our Communities at the Tlakukani Primary School in Mamelodi, for an educational workshop on the importance of water conservation. The day began with eco-education games, followed by a lesson in defending water by Greenpeace Africa. Conservation Music rounded out the day by allowing the students to write and record their own part for this month’s eco-song collaboration. Birdie guided the students through their part, leading to the creation of a beautiful chorus.

Our next session was at Haikuu’s place, where we could feel the momentum of the project building as we gathered musicians to write and compose the instrumentals for the track. Thabiso and CM Founder, Alex Paullin, exchanged ideas and riffs, as keys player Taelo Mpatsi laid down accompanying melodies to further flesh out the tune. Haikuu was also incredibly excited to add a rap verse and lead guitar melodies to the eco-song. For two weeks, we spent time at Haikuu’s studio, rehearsing and recording the majority of the track. Thabiso and Haikuu helped us integrate essential guitar strains, while bassist Gally Ngoveni laid out the low end. We met Gally earlier this year at MTN Bushfire, and are grateful to reconnect, as well as add his talented touch to the song. Next, we headed to Oakfields College Lynnwood Campus Studio, where we recorded Thulane ripping through drum takes, and even providing some backing harmonies.

Alex Paullin Takes CM to Germany for Refugium

As we continued to work on the eco-song, Alex geared up for a symposium at Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany. There he would offer a series of lectures and workshops, while producing a new #CrowdStudio track with a group of refugees and music students for the yearly Refugium Music and Arts Festival. Prior to Alex’s departure, we welcomed in Jake Taylor, CM volunteer and multi-instrumentalist, for the next two months of the expedition. Jake’s presence set an amazingly new dynamic and level of production to the group. With an expanded crew, we headed to a local cafe to watch Gershan Lombard: KhoisanBoy.Man, an artist featured in our “Day Zero” song, perform before he set off for a tour around Europe.

CM Location Shooting for “Protect Our Water”

After Alex returned from a successful trip to Germany, we wrapped up tracking and began shooting for the production’s music video. We started with Thabiso’s part at a dried out river in the Slovo Village of Winterveld. This location exceeded our expectations and we are eager to show you more from this golden hour.

For the second location shoot, the collective ventured into the city of Johannesburg to film Haikuu’s rap verse. The set lies in front of a Greenpeace Africa #DefendWater mural, which was painted to raise awareness about water as a human right. The backdrop set a heavy tone for this production and highlights the severity of South Africa’s water issues.

For the third and final shooting location, we headed to Pretoria National Botanical Garden with Birdie, who put on a moving performance for the video. The serenity of the botanical gardens, coupled with Birdie’s colorful outfit, made for some unforgettable footage that will bring this production to the next level.

Wrapping Up the Production

Our final recording session for “Protect Our Water” was with our good friend Albert Craftsman, who blessed us with congas, djembe, udu, and rainstick from his percussion arsenal. His additions brought motion and cohesion to the song and rounded it out so that we can enter the final mixing and mastering stages.

Before trekking onto our next project, Haikuu graced us with a rap verse for the expedition’s #CrowdStudio track, which will continue to grow over the remainder of the expedition. We also want to give thanks to Mount Skylight, a crew that is creating a short film and donating 5% of the proceeds to Conservation Music. Check out the teaser! With production from leg 4 behind us, we wrapped up post-production on both songs and videos from Pretoria and Eichstatt, and then set out to Botswana for leg 5 of the expedition to create a song pertaining to transboundary water issues. We hope you stay tuned for future updates on Expedition #K2K.

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term field work, and it is by far the most exciting. To learn more about CM, and to stay connected throughout the mission, please subscribe to our Newsletter below, check out our blog on National Geographic, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For live updates from the field, be sure to check out our page on National Geographic’s newest digital journaling platform, OpenExplorer. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music.

About Conservation Music

Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation

of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.

About the Editor

Alex Paullin

of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.

 

Field Notes: Expedition #K2K – Tlokoeng, Lesotho

Exploring Climate Issues in Lesotho

Conservation Music (CM) kicked off leg two of Expedition #K2K with a 12-hour drive from Cape Town, South Africa to Maseru, Lesotho. A few weeks prior to our arrival, Lesotho’s climate swung from harsh droughts to historic rain and hail storms, highlighting exactly why we are here. Our focus for the month resided in the rural village of Tlokoeng, where our music theme was set to raise awareness on “Rural Water Challenges,” a project in partnership with Conservation Music Lesotho and Professor Tsepo Mokuku from the National University of Lesotho (NUL). Take a visual leap into CM’s fieldwork by checking out our Web series video below.

Upon arriving to Tlokoeng, we began our mission with a quest for musicians to assist in the creation of our eco-song, Metsi A Rona (Our Water). The search naturally led us to the home of Ntate Motolinyane, the principle mamokhorong player in the village. We later learned that he is also the man in charge of maintaining the water pumps that supply the community taps.

“I’ve noticed a change in the rain, the patterns of the rain. While I was still young, rain was always there but it was never a type of rain that would bring floods. Everything was there, the land was green, there was a lot of maize. Rain was always coming, but nowadays what we get is no rain at all but when it comes, it comes with a heavy pour and it messes things up.“ ~Motolinyane | Tlokoeng, Lesotho

We ventured on to the closest mountain, a common place for local artists to convene around sunset. As we approached, local eyes raised and revealed a familiar musical nature. It’s incredible how musicians from any combination of cultures can somehow identify one another through a common wavelength. Our group of artists continued to expand and range from experienced elders to younger vocalists, all eager to be a part of a movement bigger than themselves. This amalgam of the old and the new is exactly the kind of collaborative effort we strive to capture.

The crew continued to ignite conversation regarding the effect that climate change has had on the locals and their village, and how we can work together to better the issues at hand. An initial focus group discussion allowed us to better understand the existing local knowledge of water conservation, and to make note of true stories relating to drought and harsh storms in the village. Together, we identified four key points to be depicted through the storytelling of the verses, while the chorus reinforced the general message. We finalized the verses together with the vocalists and then began rehearsals. Meanwhile, we sat down with locals Limakatso, Motolinyane, and Mokotjo Marake, as well as our own local team member, Rebel Sol, for some brief documentary interviews. Check out more of CM’s stories and videos on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform.

CM’s Diverse Crew Sings Loudly

As the songs composition solidified, we headed into week two and began recording in the nearby thatched-roof rondavel. The track developed further with a variety of vocals, the mamokhorong, moropa drum, guitar, bass, jaw harp, tsoelia whistling, and ululations. Woven between the core song and video production were interviews and testimonials with both artists and locals of the village. They weighed in on not only music’s role as an activator for change, but each individual’s role in the community, and the world at large.

With a diverse and unique track recorded, we trekked deeper into the mountains to begin filming for the song’s video. Up the steep slopes, we found giant caves that once served as homes for the Batlokoa people, and later King Moshoeshoe. Currently, these caves are essential for balisana (shepherds) to use as kraals (corrals) to keep their animals from overgrazing the lands. From the caverns to the mountain’s ridgeline, the immersion into this cultural and historical space was a surreal experience and a perfect shooting location to display visuals coherent with our song’s message. The following day we spent time in the valley surrounded by sorghum, maize, rivers, and dongas to wrap up the shoot. With remote shooting locations such as these, it’s important that we have a proper sound system to play back recordings to ensure proper vocal dubbing while editing. We are not only grateful for the help from our volunteers, but also to DreamWave South Africa for supplying us with their Elemental Bluetooth speaker, which has 30 watts of power to maximize our sessions no matter where we are. This tool benefits the mission daily and allows us to continue spreading environmental knowledge through our eco-song and music video creations.

Tlokoeng Gathers for a Community Screening of Metsi A Rona

The second leg of Expedition #K2K concluded in Tlokoeng with a brief impact evaluation and a community screening of their very own music video. Following the screening, we conducted a series of surveys to compare against the preliminary results, which will allow our team to evaluate the production’s educational impact amongst the villagers. Our final days were filled with unity as we all gathered to celebrate a successful song and music video, one that the Tlokoeng community can be proud to share with generations to come. We are so grateful to have spent such quality time in Tlokoeng, and are eager to return as soon as possible to continue our collaboration with the community! Next stop, eSwatini.

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term field work, and it is by far the most exciting. To learn more about CM, and to stay connected throughout the mission, please subscribe to our Newsletter below, check out our blog on National Geographic, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For live updates from the field, be sure to check out our page on National Geographic’s newest digital journaling platform, OpenExplorer. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music.

About Conservation Music

Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation

of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.

About the Editor

Alex Paullin

of Conservation Music

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info@conservationmusic.org

After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.

 

Field Notes: Expedition #K2K – Cape Town, South Africa

Preparing for the Expedition

A week prior to March, Alex Paullin, our Founder at Conservation Music (CM), landed in Africa to lay groundwork and prepare for Expedition #K2K, a 13-month sea-to-summit caravan from Cape Town’s drying coast to Tanzania’s melting glacier. Throughout the expedition, our plans are to develop thirteen new globally inspiring educational songs and videos in local languages, amplify the voices of local eco-nonprofits and relevant organizations, offer global exposure to local eco-artists, while following up on past CM projects and scouting for future ones. We believe strongly in our work, knowing that it speaks loudly within the global conversation of our suffering planet.

With the expedition launch date looming, Alex booked it from the International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, over to Lobamba, Swaziland, to pick up our Nissan X-trail. After several days of setting preparations for our Swazi-based project this upcoming May, Alex headed over to Lesotho for a few meetings, and then further south to Cape Town’s International Airport to meet up with incoming field crew members, Chris Velosovich and Bryan Murphy. Alex enjoyed the last hours of his solo journey by visiting the Valley of Desolation and connecting with Giant Flag, a carbon sequestering project in Graaff Reinet, South Africa. Take an inside look into Alex’s preparations and pit stops by checking out these YouTube videos filmed throughout his travels from Swaziland to Lesotho, Lesotho to Graaf Reinet, and Graaff Reinet to Cape Town.

Leg 1 of Expedition #K2K is Underway!

Watch CM’s Production Crew pack for the 13-month expedition!

On February 28th, the rest of us joined Alex in Cape Town, South Africa, lugging along the production and field gear needed for thirteen months of producing sound and video content along Africa’s weathered coast. Check out this behind the scenes YouTube video from CM’s Visual Production Manager, Bryan Murphy, to see how the production crew packed for this grand expedition.

When we headed to claim our luggage, all of our gear was searched and possessed by airport customs. Without a resolution at hand, we decided to get to work by collaborating with Jack Mantis Band and Gershan Lombard: KhoisanBoy.Man on CM’s first #K2K project, an eco-song and music video regarding climate change, water scarcity, and unity. The focus of this production stems from the pressing issue of Cape Town’s water crisis, which is rapidly heading towards #DayZero. Learn more about #DayZero on Cape Town’s Day Zero Dashboard.

Throughout our time in Cape Town, we were set to work closely with Gershan, Jack, and Jack’s friend Philip Pells, as they graciously shared their home and studio spaces with us. As owner of Africa Sun Studios, Phil not only shared his space with us, but also contributed top-notch sound engineering skills and bass playing to the track. After rehearsing and working out the kinks, we brought on Chuma Preshy Mgcoyi, a Xhosa singer, to add beautiful vocals in her native tongue. Together, we meticulously crafted and recorded beautiful content for the #DayZero eco-production.

Despite focusing heavily on the #DayZero eco-production, we pressed forward on other media projects, including content for our field updates on National Geographic’s OpenExplorer platform and amazing footage for CM’s fifth WebSeries episode, our first of Expedition #K2K. As we wrapped up our first week in Cape Town, we found it necessary to travel to a local freshwater spring to replenish drinking water for our household. With a daily limit of 25-litres, each of us carried five 5-litre bottles to fill. We were shocked to learn that the spring drains directly into the ocean, wasting millions of gallons of potable water each day. This is exactly what we are on the lookout for, and unfortunately these environmental impacts aren’t hard to spot. With the eco-production flowing nicely, we headed over to Elandsbaai, a secluded surf spot, for two nights of camping and hanging with friends. As the track continued to expand, we brought in Paulo Costa on clarinet, Rob Coutts on sax, and Buck Roger on violin.

The Field Crew Sets Out to Film a Music Video for CM’s #DayZero eco-Production

Check out CM’s aerial footage of Theewaterskloof Dam!

Following the short break, we grooved back into the workflow by tracking the eco-song and venturing to several impacted locations to shoot the music video with Jack, Gershan, and Chuma. Our first shoot took place at Theewaterskloof Dam, a once thriving source of water and destination for boating and fishing. Now, most of the area is completely dry, revealing remains of dead fish, capsized yachts, desolate vineyards, and collapsed villages. Check out the aerial footage that we recorded while flying our drone throughout the barren lands. Theewaterskloof is an unfortunate example of how extreme Cape Town’s water crisis is, making it a perfect location to film. With most of our camera gear still held up at customs, we weren’t certain how we would complete the video. We ended up crossing paths with a fellow American from Philadelphia, Luke, who is a young filmmaker also documenting the water crisis. He decided to spend time with us and help out with the shoot. The odds of that happening blew us all away, and we could not be more grateful for the turn of events.

After a day and a half of shooting at Theewaterskloof, we ventured to Philippi Township, an extremely low-income area that is home to many people and programs with hope for the future. The Philippi Dance crew is a great example, as their team of young dancers, led by our friends Cosmos and Suzie, lend a traditional Xhosa Rain dance as footage for our #DayZero music video. It was inspiring to film these optimistic young teens, and we are excited to include them in our eco-production.

On March 22nd, we performed an acoustic rendition of the song at Café Roux in Noordhoek during Jack’s solo show, including other brilliant guest musicians throughout the night. The evening was a tremendous success for CM, as we made many new connections and friends, including Lorraine, an Afrikaans artist and model. We invited her back to the studio so that she could face paint Jack, Gershan, Chuma, which we ended up filming in an incredible time lapse video.

To wrap up location shooting for the #DayZero music video, we joined our friends at GreenPop in the Platbos Forest Reserve for their Reforest Fest. Over the course of two consecutive weekends, volunteers planted over 8,000 trees, soaked in environmental education, and intensified their connection with the planet.

CM Wraps Up Projects in Cape Town and Prepares for Leg 2 of Expedition #K2K

With the doors closing on March, we remained gearless and unsure of how we could move forward with the expedition. Luckily, Phil made a few phone calls, and successfully retrieved all of our gear from customs. Aside from owning the studio, Phil also works at a music equipment warehouse and importer company, called Paul Bothner, where he was able to sponsor us amazing new gear, including microphones, Bluetooth speakers, and various cables. With our gear finally in hand, along with some new additions, we extended our gratitude and respect to the Cape Town crew, and then headed out for the second leg of the expedition to Lesotho.

As we begin our next project in Maseru, Lesotho, we are excited to share the full Webseries On The Beating Path… Episode 5: #K2K Leg 1 of 13 – Cape Town, which recaps on all the work we completed last month. Throughout each phase of the expedition, we will continue sharing content illustrating our travels, the people we work with, the process behind each eco-production, and a feature song and music video from each location. Stay tuned for the debut of our #DayZero production, due for release in early April, we think you’re going to love it.

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term field work, and it is by far the most exciting. To learn more about CM, and to stay connected throughout the mission, please subscribe to our Newsletter below, check out our blog on National Geographic, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For live updates from the field, be sure to check out our page on National Geographic’s newest digital journaling platform, OpenExplorer. If you would like to contribute to Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount.

This post was written by Charles Ross for Conservation Music.

 

About Conservation Music

Our Musical Nonprofit For Conservation

of Conservation Music

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info@conservationmusic.org

Conservation Music is on a mission to produce and promote musical media that educates listeners and viewers in conservation and sustainability, with an emphasis on rural developing communities, and to serve as a platform for similar efforts. Currently, the organization primarily collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more.

About the Editor

Alex Paullin

of Conservation Music

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin

info@conservationmusic.org

After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger. Throughout his life he aims to expand the Conservation Music movement globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.