'Imagine Bwindi' music video launched on World Wildlife Day

News, 3 March 2015
A new music video celebrates the wildlife of Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – and highlights the links between the park and local communities.

The music video is part of a communications programme developed by the NGO PCI Media Impact in partnership with the Uganda Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (U-PCLG) to celebrate the beauty and natural resources of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and its links with the surrounding Batwa communities.

The video features the song 'Imagine Bwindi' by Ugandan musician Richard Kawesa, who has previously written soundtracks for award-winning movies such as The Last King of Scotland. The video and song have been released to coincide with World Wildlife Day on 3 March.

The song is expected to reach thousands of people, from local communities living around Bwindi to policymakers and other key audiences. It will be played on the local farmers' radio station in the town of Fort Portal, KRC.fm, and the video will be distributed to television and radio stations around central Kampala and western Uganda.

The video will also be shared with IIED's partners working on conservation programmes, such as Nigeria's Wildlife Conservation Society and the Cameroon PCLG.

PCI Media Impact is an international communications NGO which aims to use the power of alternative media to inspire positive social and environmental change. U-PCLG is a national network which brings together Ugandan conservation and development practitioners and promotes dialogue on the links between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. It is coordinated by IIED.

The music video is part of a communications programme called 'Mpa, Mpa Nkuwe', which translates as 'Give me and I will give you'.  The programme aims to strengthen U-PCLG's ability to communicate important conservation and development messages through alternative media, such as talk shows, music videos, and comic strips.

Bwindi is home to an estimated 400 endangered mountain gorillas. Located in the Albertine Rift Valley, it is considered to be part of one of the most biologically rich ecosystems on Earth, with a large number of endemic species. It has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site for its biological and historical significance.

But conserving Bwindi, and excluding local communities from using its resources, raises many problems:

A local community member living near Bwindi says: "Some of us live on land near the park. At times, we have raised money to buy the seeds and we have grown Irish potatoes near the boundary. Then when the elephants come and destroy our gardens and eat all the potatoes, we lose a lot of money and income. There is no money."

He says: "I go there to cut timber to sell to replace the money I have lost because of the poverty caused by the crop raiding."

About Mpa Mpa Nkuwe

Recognising these difficulties, U-PCLG wanted to use 'Imagine Bwindi' to raise awareness about the need for equal and fair distribution of the costs and benefits of conserving the invaluable natural resources of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.  

U-PCLG arranged for Kawesa and his film crew to travel to Bwindi to give them the chance to find inspiration and capture some of the unique Bwindi experience for the music video. Their journey was described in a blog by Hellena Nambogwe, an environmental educator working with U-PCLG and PCI Media Impact.

"The music video is part of a larger, entertainment-education trans-media campaign which has the power to 'turn up the volume' on critical conservation issues," said Sean Southey, PCI Media Impact's chief executive officer.

Dr. Panta Kasoma explains the need for this type of communications partnership: "We have previously used workshops, posters and flyers as a means of conveying conservation messages. We thought it was high time we tried a different approach which we think will appeal to a broader spectrum of stakeholders. Imagine Bwindi is a beautiful music video to watch and I believe the message it conveys will make people think more about equity in sharing the benefits of protected areas."

This project is funded by the UK government's Darwin Initiative and by the Arcus Foundation. However, the views expressed herewith do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK government or the Arcus Foundation.

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