Time : 13-03-21 10:49
New Album Tells Story of Ugandan Coffee Farmers’ Interfaith Work(March 14, 2013, 2:48 PM)
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New Album Tells Story of Ugandan Coffee Farmers’ Interfaith Work

New Album Tells Story of Ugandan Coffee Farmers’ Interfaith Work
Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music & Interfaith Harmony in Uganda celebrates the music and mission of the coffee farmers in the Peace Kawomera (Delicious Peace) Cooperation Circle, a Fair Trade cooperative in Mbale, Uganda. The CC’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim members work to promote unity among faiths by providing just economics to their community.
"In Africa, music and sharing a meal or a drink are key in our community life and growth," said Despina Namwembe, URI's Coordinator for the Great Lakes sub-region of Africa. "I can't find a better way of promoting interfaith cooperation and understanding than the work Peace Kawomera is doing."
Jewish Ugandan coffee farmer and musician J.J. Keki founded Peace Kawomera after witnessing the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 during a trip to New York City. Deeply moved by what he had seen, Keki felt compelled to find a way to bring different religions together in peace.
Upon returning to Uganda, Keki traveled from village to village, enlisting Jewish, Christian and Muslim farmers to join his Fair Trade cooperative. More than 1,000 farmers are now part of the Cooperation Circle.
“Use whatever you have to create peace!” Keki said. “If you have music, use your music to create peace. For us, we have coffee. We are using coffee to bring peace to the world.”
The new album features uplifting, multi-lingual songs written and performed by the coffee farmers of the Peace Kawomera CC. Village guitar groups (pictured above, courtesy of Richard Sobol) and women’s choirs sing to stress the impact of fair trade prices on their lives, and to encourage neighbors to join the coffee cooperative. They are accompanied by traditional instruments, including the embaire (xylophone with wooden keys), ngoma (drum), akadongo (lamellaphone or thumb piano), endingidi (one-string fiddle) and nsasi (shaker).
Working on location in Uganda, Tufts University professor and Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit recorded the album for Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States. Royalties from the sale of the album will support education for the children of the Peace Kawomera cooperative.
“Women farmers’ groups are primarily organized by location, and because the neighborhoods are not segregated by religion, many of these groups, who work and sing together, have members from all three religious traditions,” said Summit, who previously produced the GRAMMY-nominated album Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda for Smithsonian Folkways. “Men and women who in the past would never sit down to eat or celebrate with one another now socialize freely.”
The project was supported by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Perry and Martin Granoff Family Foundation and Tufts University.
The new album will appear in stores and online on April 9, 2013. A free preview of the album appears here. To hear J.J. Keki explain the inspiration for the album, watch this YouTube video. To watch the Akuseka Takuwa Kongo Group perform “Let All Religions Come Together,” follow this link.
Mirembe Kawomera “Delicious Peace” coffee is available for purchase in the United States and Canada through the Thanksgiving Coffee Company of Fort Bragg, California.