Summit reached, gratitude, and new beginnings… please read!

Mission Accomplished!

All composition, recording, and filming for Expedition #K2K’s 13 songs and videos are complete, and we have successfully completed our sea to summit journey from Cape Town’s drying coast to Tanzania’s melting glacier. We are so grateful for all of the support we have received along the way, we could not have done this without you!

Here is a list of just a few things we have accomplished this year with your help:

    • 45,000+ photos taken
    • 20,000+ hours worked by 20+ volunteers
    • 400 days on the road
    • 260 hours of footage
    • 150+ supporting individuals and groups
    • 30 new artists/groups
    • 25 organizational partnerships
    • 22 Interviews
    • 20+ new volunteers from 13+ countries
    • 13 songs and 13 music videos
    • 12 terabytes of digital media
    • 9 countries impacted
    • 4 local chapters: Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania
    • 4 international conferences – CGSS, EEASA, OYW, UNEA
    • 3 school visits
    • 2 community workshops
    • 1 hit song in Zambia, “Samalilani” comes on TV daily
    • 1 article on nationalgeographic.com
    • 1 article with Thomson Reuters Foundation, pending publication

Gratitude

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to all of the individuals and organizations on our route who have supported this long journey however they could. Please find a list of these incredible souls below. Friends and supporters abroad, you know who you are, and we love you!

Cape Town, South Africa
Africa Sun Studios
Amandla Development
Buck Rogers
Chuma Mgcoyi
Cuan Thomas
Devon Concar
Explore4Knowledge
Gershan Lombard
Greenpop
Jack Mantis
John Lucas
Misha Teasdale
Paulo Costa
Phil Pells
Rob Coutts
Susi Bayer
Yugesh Pillay

Lesotho
Conservation Music Lesotho
Lerato Lesoetsa
Mosa Theko
Professor Mokuku
Rebel Sol
Reekelitsoe Molapo
Village of Tlokoeng

eSwatini
Bholoja
Black Rhino
Buddy Masango
Bushfire Festival
Jiggs Thorne
Pachanga
Qibho Intalektual
Robert Grenoble
Sands
Smiles Makama
Toby Matoskah Allison
Velemseni

Gauteng, South Africa
Albert Craftsman
Gally Ngoveni
Haikuu
Hanneke Van Linge
Jake Taylor
Nosh Food Rescue
Thabiso Thabethe
Tribute “Birdie” Mboweni

Botswana
David Sandenbergh
Gaone Ranthloiwa
Helene Forward
Leeroy Nyoni
Matthew Lee Merritt
National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project
Old Bridge Backpackers
Patrick John
Stanley Kaseke
Stiger Sola
Tomeletso Sereetsi

Livingstone, Zambia
Frank Tyrol
Heather Coltman
Uncle Ben Mibenge
Wayne Emmanuel
Yes Rasta!

Hwange, Zimbabwe
African Bush Camps Foundation
Fadzai Muungani
Main Camp Primary School
Mambanje Community
Ms. Rebecca
Mwachayingwe
Polite Chipembere
Stanley Mutatisi
Tormenta

Harare, Zimbabwe
Dr. Oliver Mtukudzi (Rest In Peace)
Leroy Gora
Ngoma Nehosho
Tom Brickhill
Tuku Music
Walter Wanyanya

Lusaka, Zambia
African Education Program
Brian Mutale
Chanda ‘Chanx’ Musanya
Edwin ‘Nyno’ Kabeba
Elvie Njeka
James Sakala
Joy Mweemba
Julie-Anne Savarit-Cosenza
Maureen Lilanda
Mr. Champs
Pompi
Shaps Mutambo
Students of Amos Academy
Theresa N’gambi
Time Lyne Entertainments

Malawi
Faith Mussa
Farhai Masamba
Jeremiah Chigwenembe
Judah Mkandawire
Kelvin Before Gumbi
Kim of Diamonds
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust
Matthew Mphande
Ndaba Nyanda
Sangie
Suffix

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Beka Flavour
Jaymondy
Lucky Stone
Minister January Makamba
Nana Paul
One The Incredible
Shubert Mwarabu
Students of TaSUBa
Tania and Hamish Hamilton
TaSUBa College of Arts
Darsh Pandit
Wanene Entertainment

 

Zanzibar
Dhow Countries Music Academy
Dipesh Pabari
Finnegan Flint
Flipflopi Expedition
Lorenz Hermann
Sauti za Busara Festival
Siti and the Band
Stone Town Records
Yusuf Mahmoud

Arusha, Tanzania
CAC Fusion Band
Daz Naledge
Ellisha James
Michael Moshi
Mtingo Traditional Band
SUA Music Movement
Tumaini University
Makumira Cultural Arts Centre (CAC)

New Board Members

It is also our pleasure to introduce you to four new members of our global board of directors, helping our movement to grow in the most balanced and sustainable way possible for the next two years and beyond! If you are interested in a board position or know someone who would be a good fit, please don’t hesitate to reach out to info@conservationmusic.org.

Reekelitsoe Molapo

Reekelitsoe Molapo is a 25-year-old social entrepreneur from Lesotho with over 3 years’ experience in the field. She is an environmental activist who is passionate about education, sustainable development, and responsible production and consumption. She is versatile and multi-skilled; with training in research, entrepreneurship, energy, leadership, and African studies. In the past she has worked and volunteered with organisations like the Global Business Roundtable, MM-Holdings, World Vision, US Embassy and EU Maseru amongst many; which equipped her with various skills. She believes in sustainability and doing impactful business and this led her to found Alternatives Co; a green start-up that provides eco-packaging, biofuels, and clean energy gadgets.
Outside of her professional work, she works closely with Lesotho’s Ministry of Gender and Youth in their various youth programs and has co-founded Conservation Music Lesotho and Educate Your Peer Foundation which are organisations centered around community and youth development. She recently completed a short leadership course with the University of Cambridge and has plans to pursue studies in social entrepreneurship this year. She is a One Young World Ambassador, a Pitch at Palace Commonwealth alumni, a YALI RLC alumni, a Queen’s Young Leaders Awardee and a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Awardee.

Katie Kendall

Katie has 7 years of experience in helping organizations and businesses succeed to accomplish their business goals. Focusing predominantly on organizations in the Agriculture and Agribusiness sector, she has experience in research, project management, financial analysis, organizational coaching, and leadership coaching. Her educational background includes an Undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences, as well as a Masters degree in Agriculture Sciences, where she completed a research-based thesis on the use of crop waste to produce biofuels.

Currently, Katie is considering transitioning into a career in teaching with the hopes of having more flexibility and impact around the world. Her passion for international development led her to spend 2018 working as an advisor with Care International in Mozambique, where she advised on a 5-year Malnutrition project. This is where her path crossed with Conservation Music.
Katie is an ex-varsity level athlete, photographer, trained royal conservatory musician, and an avid public speaker and facilitator.

Jon Fleming

Jon has over 25 years of leadership and management experience inside Fortune 50 and start-up companies in wireless telecom, payments, media, advertising, and software. He has had executive leadership roles in strategy, marketing, sales, business development, product management, software development, and operations. Jon has extensive international experience managing in multi-cultural environments in Latin America, Western and Central Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  A Ten-year military veteran, Jon is a decorated USMC officer and aviator.

Currently the Vice President and Country Manager of Audible Canada (an Amazon company), he has responsibility for P/L, strategy, marketing, business development, operations, content acquisition, and programming development, and Corporate Social Responsibility.  Jon is also a founder and Chair of the Global Advisory Committee for James Madison University’s Center for Global Engagement, whose mission is to broaden worldviews and promote global understanding for the JMU community by cultivating, facilitating, and supporting global engagement at home and abroad.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Jon is a proud graduate of James Madison University with a degree in Foreign Languages.  He was also an International Management Fellow while obtaining a Masters of Business Administration from the Anderson School at UCLA.  Jon resides in Seattle, Washington with his wife and fourteen-year-old boy/girl twins.  They also have a son who is a freshman at JMU.  In his free time, Jon enjoys live music, open water swimming, watching Charlie’s Angels re-runs, and skiing.

Mac Thayer

Mac Thayer is the founder and executive director of New Business Associates, Startup Virginia, and the Junior Golf Scoreboard, a website designed to give players, parents, and coaches easy access to information on the world of competitive junior golf worldwide. He attended St. Lawrence University and served as an officer in the United States Navy before attending the renowned Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Mac is an experienced business mentor and has previously chaired many boards.

As the chairman of the Conservation Music board, Mac brings to the table not only a wealth of experience and knowledge but also a great deal of passion to deal with Climate Change, which he sees as the greatest challenge of our time. Having witnessed the inspirational and catalytic power of music firsthand during the Vietnam protests, he has no doubt that music is an answer.

Stay Current with CM & Donate

If you would like to support the next stage of Conservation Music, bolstering our new local chapters and their partnerships with NGOs and government, developing handbooks and materials to enable exponential growth of the movement worldwide, and creating new and innovative types of educational content, please consider becoming a monthly patron at any level, or make an individual donation below.

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 – The Mountain

We’re Back!

We have missed you! Here is where we’ve been and who we’ve worked with…we can’t wait to share the finished results with you soon! If you would like to contribute to Conservation Music‘s (CM) Expedition #K2K, please visit our Patreon page, where you can schedule monthly donations of any amount, or make a single donation via the button in the top right of our website.

“Samalilani” from Lusaka Goes Viral

  • Samalilani video is on National TV after the news daily in Zambia
  • Artists have attended frequent radio interviews and are preparing for 2 different TV programs
  • Song is on daily rotation on multiple radio stations
  • Online it has gathered hundreds of thousands of views, reactions, and comments
  • It has successfully spurred a national conversation on Climate Change

During the month of November, the CM movement joined forces with some of Lusaka’s foremost artists to create a truly special song and music video. From the start of the month, a team of talented vocalists and songwriters such as Shaps Mutambo, Theresa N’gambi, and the ever-popular James Sakala came together as a powerhouse of talent for the Earth. With the help of local producer and beatmaker Mr. Champs, these artists created an impactful and moving song that uses poignant storytelling to tackle local environmental issues such as tree cutting, charcoal burning, and water management, along with humanity’s neglect of such problems. Soon enough, the legendary singer Maureen Lilanda lent her voice and profound lyrics, as she sang of a past time of fellowship and regard for the earth. Shortly after, Zambia’s smash hit Pompi, the African Eagle, jumped in on the bridge with a heightened call to action, taking to the streets and rooftops, megaphone in hand, to awaken our Zambian brothers and sisters. The track, entitled Samalilani, is the culmination of multiple award-winning Zambian artists and the Conservation Music movement, coming together for the greater good, and is a prime example of what can be accomplished when people from all over the world put their heads together to create music for change in Zambia.

 

Lilongwe, Malawi

After wrapping up a fruitful eco-production in Lusaka, Zambia, the CM crew headed to the landlocked paradise, Lilongwe, Malawi. Despite its renowned beauty, the country is heavily impacted by climate change, causing pressing issues such as a drying lake that is overfished, frequent burning, rising temperatures, littering, and pollution. To highlight these points, we brought on Faith Mussa Official, KIM, Sangie Angel,  KBG – Nyalimuzik & Suffix. The music flowed while being inspired by the surrounding Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.

 

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

After departing from Malawi, CM headed to Tanzania, where the final three months of Expedition #K2K would be completed. Our first stop was Dar Es Salaam, where we worked with Shubert Mwarabu, Lucky Stone, Nana Paul, One The Incredible, Shubert Mwarabu, and Beka Flavour, Geline Gee Fuko. Big thanks to Wanene Studios for helping bring our eco-song “Mazingira” to life.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

With just two months left, CM headed to the island of Zanzibar to tell the tale of an island as a microcosm for our planet. Throughout the month, we worked closely with the super talented Siti and the Band. While bringing another eco-production to life, CM also connected with Stone Town Records, The Flipflopi Expedition, Sauti za Busara, UN Environment, and many others on the island!  Lastly, we would like to thank the super talented Shamsi Music from Nairobi for the onstage CM shout out at Sauti za Busara. Can’t wait to work with these guys in Kenya!

What’s Next? Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Here’s what is happening in the coming weeks as we wrap up the 13-month Expedition #K2K with a series of extremely special initiatives that you have made possible with us…

  • The stage is set for our 13th and final production all across the Kilimanjaro region, featuring underground rappers from Arusha town, members of Chagga and Maasai communities, and a special guest to be announced after the 16th! We will be covering topics like glacial melting due to climate change and soil abuse, littering, and deforestation.
  • Tomorrow we embark for the UN Environment Assembly, one of the biggest environmental summits in the world. We have been invited to speak up at dialogues, perform at an event, display our music videos, and represent our cause at a booth in the Sustainable Innovation Expo. Our delegation is composed of founder Alex Paullin, board member Mac Thayer, and CM Lesotho co-founder Reekelitsoe Molapo.
  • At the end of our final production, Conservation Music will complete our sea-to-summit expedition at Africa’s highest point… Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro. From drying coast to melting glacier.

None of this would be possible without your support… please stay tuned into our social channels Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin and if you are able, consider making a donation to help us complete Expedition #K2K, empower our new local chapters, finish our productions, and make it to the next step of our journey as we deepen our impact with dozens of incredible people in Africa and beyond.

Get Involved & Donate

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term fieldwork, 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 and follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube. 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 – Lusaka, Zambia

Conservation Music Calls for Change in Zambia

At the start of November, Conservation Music (CM) landed in Lusaka, Zambia, to continue Expedition #K2K. On the trek over from Harare, Zimbabwe, we stopped in Kafue, a small town outside of Lusaka, to spend time at the Amos Youth Centre (AYC) for several days. We were linked here through Director Julie-Anne, whom we met while in Livingstone in August, to learn about her work and educate the students about CM’s mission. Before we left for Lusaka, we met with our good friend and talented singer, Shaps Mutambo, who would be helping us with this month’s eco-song and connecting us with local artists to work with. Together, we created an impactful and moving song that uses poignant storytelling to tackle local environmental issues such as tree cutting, charcoal burning, and water management, along with humanity’s neglect of such problems. Global Platform Zambia (GPZ), a hub for social, health, and environmentally-based organizations, also welcomed our arrival and provided us with dorms for the entire stay. Throughout the month, our plans were set to produce the new eco-song “Samalilani”, film it’s music video, and attend a local conference where Alex would present CM’s mission while networking for potential collaborations in Lusaka. Tune into 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.

Amos Youth Centre

Our visit to Kafue was short, but we had a memorable time thanks to our friend Julie-Anne, who runs the AYC. She invited our crew to run a miniature workshop with the students, where we showed CM videos and then created a simple eco-song. It was a delight to see their excitement and engagement, while they questioned and discovered all aspects of the CM mission. Brighton was moved to share how he is “encouraged because, on our way, most of us end up in a situation of giving up. You know, life is a journey and then we face a lot of things and there are so many challenges that we face in life. But looking at you, I was asking myself questions: How is it possible that these people, they started this. And, now you’re working and I can tell that it is not easy. That conservation to prevent climate change, that I really appreciate. I’ve learned a lot from you.” This micro-workshop was a great success and we can’t wait to hold more in schools along our journeys.

CM Connects with Local Musicians to Create Eco-song “Samalilani”

After just a few hours of meeting with Shaps Mutambo, he introduced us to music producer Mr. Champs, singer/songwriters James Sakala and Theresa N’gambi. With this group of musicians, we held our first meeting, including a proper introduction of CM and discussion on the type of song that we desired for this month. Theresa gave us a head start by presenting one of her own songs, a composition already themed around the environment. Our first meeting was extremely productive as we set a melody, rhythm, chorus and track title.

With the eco-song moving along nicely, we met with a group of young locals who had contacted CM last year with desires to start a local CM chapter. We invited them to join our second artist meeting, where they were brought up to speed on the project and shadowed the production work. A lot was learned through the immersive experience as we recorded first runs of Theresa and James’s guitar parts, while Mr. Champs composed a modern beat to match the folky, down-tempo acoustic guitars. Next, our field crew headed over to Tyme Lyne Entertainments (TLE) to begin the tracking process. Thanks to James, we connected with Nyno, the producer and sound engineer at TLE. The studio was spacious and ambient, fully decked out with vocal and drum booths. We began with Theresa on guitar and then recorded a few surprise contributions from Chanda on guitar, Elvie on bass, and Brian on drums. During the following studio sessions, we recorded the remaining parts from Theresa, James, and Shaps. Soon enough, we made our way back to Kafue to record the children at the AYC. The group sang along to the chorus to create a climatic finale filled with many local voices.

 To build out the song a bit more, we met with locally renowned artists, Maureen Lilanda and Pompi. Maureen listened in on a session and returned home to develop lyrics in her own time. Later, we met at her home and recorded her bits with our mobile studio set-up. We fleshed out the track out a bit more by recording Pompi’s additions. Luckily, GPZ provided us with a studio space, which typically is used as a radio studio. Pompi contributed a powerful call to action for humanity to take the issue of climate change seriously. As we wrapped up recording, we tracked “Samalilani” and began spreading it to the masses.

With “Samalilani” airing on ZNBC national network, Maureen Lilanda continued to spread the song’s message and CM’s mission during an interview with Zambia’s NationLifestyle newspaper. “CLIMATE change is real hence the need to promote behavioral change in terms of how we use nature and its connection to Climate change, says Zambian veteran songbird Maureen Lilanda. The music artist said she has been featured in a music video on conservation aimed at educating people on the importance of conservation of natural resources into the impact of climate change. She revealed that the concept of the song “Samalilani” was written originally by Theresa Ng’ambi with support by an organisation called Conservation Music that are on a mission to warn mankind on issues of climate change. “So they invited me to be part of the project. I’m also just featured in the song, the project is called Conservation Music.” She explained. Maureen Lupo Lilanda is a household name in Zambia. She is an afro-jazz singer and songwriter with over twenty-five years in the music industry. She has also named international recognition especially in Europe and Asia. To my fans may God bless you all with good health and long lives, so that you may continue to support me. That’s the reason I still exist. I thank them for the love they have and continue to give me. As long as they’re there, I’ll be here,” she concluded (Noel Iyombwa, NationLifestyle).

The track, entitled “Samalilani”, is the culmination of multiple award-winning Zambian artists and the Conservation Music movement, coming together for the greater good, and is a prime example of what can be accomplished when people from all over the world put their heads together to create music for change in Zambia.

CM Shoots for the “Samalilani” Music Video

While our eco-song “Samalilani” continued to make an impact in Zambia, the field crew geared up for location shooting. We connected with Mr. Chipamoonga, a local Kafue elder, who allowed CM to use his land for the first location shoot. Here, we filmed the chorus with Theresa, James, Maureen, and Shaps walking together by a beautiful stream. Mr. Chipamoonga also graced us with a poetry reading, which we laid over the intro. Soon enough, Maureen lent her voice and profound lyrics, as she sang of a past time of fellowship and regard for the earth. We continued the location shoots as Pompi jumped in on the bridge with a heightened call to action, taking to the streets and rooftops, megaphone in hand, to awaken our Zambian brothers and sisters. Then we filmed Theresa’s verse in front of a large stack of charcoal, to highlight the harmful effects of charcoal burning. The crew wrapped up the location shooting at the AYC with all of the children chanting the chorus behind Shaps. The footage that we filmed throughout this eco-production is extremely powerful, matching the energy of the song.

CM’s Final Week in Lusaka

As the crew finalized the eco-production, we attended a local conference alongside Self Help Africa, where Alex presented CM’s mission and discussed potential collaborations with several organizations in Lusaka.

Next, we headed to Kafue National Park, which was a long, beautiful drive out into the bush, far away from civilization. We stayed at McBride’s Camp and were warmly welcomed by the park owners, Charlotte and Chris. Charlotte was warm and accommodating, while Chris was witty and very knowledgeable about the local animal and plant life. Our campsite was settled on the Kafue river, which we shared with pods of hippos, crocodiles, and many species of birds. At night, we were greeted by a small, cat-like mammal known as a genet. We were informed that despite its cat-like appearance, it is actually in the mongoose family, which is noted by its long, slender frame and tail. The field crew captured amazing wildlife footage and enjoyed time spent in the park. With just a few nights left, we headed back to the town to say goodbye to all of our new friends and prepare for the next phase of Expedition #K2K.

Our plans were set to move on to Lilongwe, Malawi, and the crew is excited for what is to come. Tune into 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.

 

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 – Mambanje, Zimbabwe

Conservation Music Galvanizes Mambanje, Zimbabwe to Support Conservation

In early September, Conservation Music (CM) headed to the Mambanje village of Zimbabwe for the next leg of Expedition #K2K. We were invited by the African Bush Camps Foundation (ABCF) to build awareness and conversation within the community by focusing on deforestation, poaching, and ABCF’s Mobile Cattle Boma Initiative throughout the creation of this month’s eco-educational music production, “Hayilondo Teni Nyika Yedu” meaning “Let’s Conserve Our Nature.” As the project developed, we integrated the musical talent of several local villagers and students from the primary school’s marimba band. 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.

The immersion into the small, isolated community of Mambanje was a sure change from our previous month spent in Livingstone, Zambia. Our travels in between took us over the iconic Victoria Falls bridge, into forests of Baobabs and through the gateway town of Dete, leading us to Mambanje and the Main Camp of Hwange National Park. Without stores, petrol stations or grocers in sight, we settled into the small community of which we called home for the next month. We were housed in teachers’ cottages at the Mambanje Primary School, allowing the crew to rest off the journey and prepare for the next day’s village council meeting.

The following morning the community welcomed CM as we introduced the movement and detailed our specific plans in the village. Many intrigued musicians connected with us, stimulating the process of finding collaborators for this month’s eco-educational music production. We first linked with a local singer named Tatenda, who also goes by Tormeta. He then introduced us to his grandfather, Machaingwe, who hadn’t picked up a stringed instrument in years, yet was able to surprise the crew with his highly skilled talent once we handed him a guitar. The engagement we were seeing already was extremely positive and free-flowing, all good signs for this month’s production.

That afternoon, the village Lion Guardian Polite showed us the mobile bomas, which are movable shelter systems used to prevent cattle hunting by lions and hinder the ensuing human-wildlife conflict. The mobile bomas hide cattle from being in plain sight of predators, while also reflecting moonlight to discourage the predators’ approach. Since the animals are kept inside the bomas, their concentrated presence benefits the land by breaking up compacted soil and fertilizing it with their urine and feces while restricting grazing to one area at a time. The bomas are systematically relocated throughout the land, leaving behind fertile plots while tending to new ones. After Polite showed us the bomas, he lead us to a nearby kraal, a traditional wooden shelter system. These are unfortunately more transparent and accessible to predators. Without local grocers, the community relies heavily on their livestock and local food sources, making these shelter systems a very important life aspect. Unfortunately, cattle attacks from large predators lead to reactions of poaching, which is an issue that we are trying to highlight and further develop solutions to. Learn more about the importance and effectiveness of ABCF’s Mobile Cattle Boma Initiative.

Connecting with Mambanje’s Primary School

Before heading back to the village to write the song, we headed to Main Camp Primary School in Hwange National Park to visit the student marimba band. To our surprise, the five youths in the band had already started composing a rhythm and melody, which we used to form the skeleton of our eco-song. The Marimba band played their parts individually, allowing us to record pieces to bring back to the village to compose further. Before heading back, we gave a short presentation to explain the CM movement and the power that music has to help change the world.


Developing an Eco-educational Song with Local Musicians

Back in Mambanje, we started piecing together the song’s structure with Machaingwe on guitar and bass, then conducted a series of meetings where we further composed the lyrics with Tormeta. Local teacher Rebecca helped us with lyrical translations so that Tormeta could hit every major theme of the song, allowing him to develop very memorable and relatable lyrics. In no time, we had tracked the rhythm, lead, bass guitars, a Zim dancehall riff, and drums played by Polite’s wife Zanele. The song was naturally developing into a high-energy, locally styled composition.

As we moved into the recording phases of the production, we worked with Machaingwe on both the guitar and bass pieces. Despite his 20-year absence from stringed instruments, writing and recording with him was a breeze. Tormeta joined his efforts as they collaboratively worked out the keyboard recordings for the Zim dancehall bridge. Zim dancehall is a popular local style of music that utilizes upbeat percussive elements and synthesized leads, with heavily auto-tuned vocals. With the music flowing, it was finally time to record Tormeta’s vocals. A local family graciously shared their homestead with us, so that we could record in a quiet setting. The peaceful experience was followed up with sharing some tea and bread.

Over the next few days, we continued to meet with other community members, who contributed backing vocals to the track. A few students added vocals for the chorus and an exciting dance performance, which we filmed for the music video. We prepared for the next coming days, which were set to be full of location video shoots throughout the village and surrounding areas.

Filming Location Shoots to Highlight Local Environmental Issues & Solutions

We kicked off the location shoots with Tormeta by heading to a nearby dried river bed within a heavily deforested area. We continued to film Tormeta’s parts in front of a few riverside gardens, which we included to highlight the illegal practice and how it leads to soil erosion. As we moved along, we captured more shots in the nearby mobile bomas. A few exciting final additions to the video were filmed during our visit to Hwange National Park, where we were able to shoot amazing footage of elephants, giraffes, baboons, kudu, wildebeests, and lions. Our focus for the day was on obtaining footage of lions, which we were graced with towards the end of our time in the park. On the way out we came across a pride of about fourteen lions lounging in the middle of the road. This wildlife footage is an essential aspect to our music video as key points in the lyrics pertain to pressing human-wildlife issues. We ended the location shoots on a high note and headed back to the village to wrap up our project so that we could screen it to the community prior to leaving.

Community Screening & Educational Discussions

With the song and video finalized, we held a community event consisting of several live performances of the song, integrated community discussions on the topics, and a debut screening of the music video. The crowd continued to expand throughout the night, as the music lured in members of the community and created a platform for conversation on conservation, health, and other sustainable development priorities. We were extremely pleased with the turnout and interaction from the villagers as they asked questions, learned, danced, and sang along.

Instead of leaving on the scheduled departure, we surprised the community by staying for an additional day. This impulsive decision led to a few amazing developments, as we recorded several more musical contributions from community drummers and a mbira player. Our additional time in the village also granted incredibly empowering interviews with Polite, Machaingwe, and Tormeta. The month spent in this village, and amongst these beautiful people, was a success as we brought together people from all over the world to learn, discuss, and take action on our shared environmental problems.

After our extended stay, we departed from the village and headed to the city of Maun in Botswana to visit with old friends and take part in the Okavango Delta Music Festival. Our time in Maun is set to be a week long, before heading off to start leg eight of Expedition #K2K in Harare, Zimbabwe with the one and only Oliver Mtukudzi.

Get Involved & Donate

Expedition #K2K is our third iteration of long-term fieldwork, 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.

 

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.