Face to Face With the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble – A Poetic Fusion of Talent & Cultural Diversity

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The Nilotika Cultural Ensemble

Nilotika Cultural Ensemble…

But when I first heard the name, hold on. It sticks right? Stays with you right? Your mind makes that pause and then processes what you just heard. Yes, same same. Happened to me too. For some reason, my mind will be repeating that to me for the next two weeks or so.

Nilotika Cultural Ensemble.

The Nilotika Cultural Ensemble is a cultural band founded in Kampala Uganda, that deals not only in music production but is also a fusion of designers, tailors, dancers, drummers, composers, performers, vocalists, producers – of course, and artists.

The community was founded by Jajja Peter Kalanda, a composer and performer who describes himself as a teacher of cultural arts and a preserver of cultural tradition.

Jajja Peter Kalanda in Green attire, founder of Nilotika Cultural Ensemble

The band runs a monthly drum circle whose motive is to engage with the community through drumming. More often than not, the band defines itself as a Spiritual Movement that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of East Africa, particularly Uganda and the Nile River Region. The band comprises a team of dynamic and vibrant artisans gifted in the craft of music, fashion designing, music production, and tailoring. Nilotika Cultural Ensemble, as far as music is concerned, is, also according to band members, a ‘fusion of traditional and contemporary sounds…’; and the ensemble has captivated audiences worldwide with their electrifying performances and mesmerizing rhythms.’

The Nilotika Cultural Ensemble

The band was formed in the early 2000s and is still growing big and strong, showcasing a variety of traditions and art through mind-blowing performances. The Ensemble infuses traditional instruments such as Ngoma Drums, Adungu, the kalimba, and several other modern instruments whilst drawing inspiration from ancient rhythms and rhymes. The sound they produce is categorically a blend of traditional folklore, Afrobeat, reggae, and jazz and aims to spread a message of love, unity, peace, and harmony.

Some of the team members at the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble

The Nilotika Cultural Ensemble owns a music recording studio called Kiriya Records, and they also teach music production ranging from cultural to modern genres. The band also owns a fully functioning workshop for tailoring, where they make Kitenge attires and as well other modern garments.

One team member wearing an attire designed by the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble

Introducing Tukwatagane Music Residency by Nilotika Cultural Ensemble

In order to spice things up and test new waters, the Nilotika Cultural ensemble is also yet to introduce its new Tukwatagane Music Residency, ‘a transformative cultural exchange program that fosters connections and collaboration between East African cultural artists, practitioners, entrepreneurs, cultural ensembles, performers, activists, and artists from Europe, the UK, the Caribbean, and Asia. The term “Tukwatagane” originates from the Luganda language, meaning “let’s connect,” reflecting the core philosophy of this unique residency.’

Tukwatagane Music Residency

According to Fabian Lefournour one of the team members and crew at Nilotika Cultural Ensemble, the Tukwatagane Music Residency is “Driven by the belief that artistic and cultural exchanges can ignite profound dialogue and understanding, Tukwatagane Music Residency provides a platform for diverse artists to immerse themselves in an environment that celebrates cultural heritage, encourages artistic experimentation, and nurtures cross-cultural connections. Through a series of carefully curated activities and collaborative projects, participants are empowered to explore the intersections of traditional and contemporary musical expressions.”

Performance by the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble


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