Okavango African Orchestra features a cast of nine accomplished African-born musicians: Daniel Nebiat (krar, vocals-Eritrea), Tichaona Maredza (marimba, nyunga-nyunga, vocals-Zimbabwe), Donne Roberts (guitar, vocals-Madagascar), Kooshin (kaban, vocals-Somalia), Ebenezer Agyekum (bass-Ghana), Sadio Sissokho (kora, djembe, vocals-Senegal), Nicolas Simbananiye (vocals-Burundi), Aron Nitunga (guitar, vocals-Burundi) and Kofi Ackah (percussion-Ghana).
The orchestra takes its name from the Okavango Delta, a basin in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, where many different animal species come together to feed and find water. Predators and prey are forced to coexist and share the meager resources because of the harsh environment around them. Similarly, Okavango: An African Orchestra brings together the traditional music and instruments of several major African cultures that historically have had little or no interaction. The musicians of Okavango have created a common meeting place for these disparate cultures, and a new musical language that harmonizes their different tuning systems, rhythms, and timbres. The musicians and instruments of Okavango represent a continuum of traditions and cultures from time immemorial to the present day. The multicultural spirit of modern-day Canada bridges ancient African solitudes.
Okavango African Orchestra looks ahead on its continuing journey to an “Africa without borders… before the borders were created”.