When coffee sings it speaks Lugwere, Lugiso, Swahili, Luganda, Lugyole, . When coffee sings it tells stories of tradition and innovation, farming and community celebration; it teaches you how to best take care of your crop, and it invites you to join together to become stronger.
When coffee sings it reaches around the world, from the fields of the growers of the Peace Kawomera Coffee Cooperative in Uganda to your iPod, car stereo, or maybe even the last standing home cd player.
When coffee sings it sings in the name of peace, of ending religious conflict that plagues many regions of Uganda through collectively improving coffee production, and thus the livelihoods of everyone.
On April 9th Smithsonian Folkways released Peace Kawomera Cooperative’s album Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music and Interfaith Harmony in Uganda . The project is the culmination of work done by the coop’s leader and founder J. J. Keki to build an interfaith coop and train members in ways to improve their coffee cultivation with the hopes of fetching higher prices through Fair Trade certifications and improvements in quality. Sales of the album will help further both hose goals.
The liner notes summarize the project as the following:
The songs in this collection are written and
performed by the coffee farmers of the Peace
Kawomera (Delicious Peace) Fair Trade cooperative
in Mbale, Uganda. Jewish, Christian,
and Muslim farmers work together to overcome
generations of conflict and poverty. Village guitar groups and
women’s choirs sing to stress the transformative impact of
Fair Trade prices and to encourage their neighbors to join
the coffee cooperative. Accompanied with xylophone, drums,
and other traditional instruments, these farmers sing of the
benefits of interfaith cooperation and, through music, teach new
cooperative members how to produce great coffee. J. J. Keki,
the founder of the cooperative, says: “Use whatever you have to
create peace! If you have music, use your music to create peace.
For us, we have coffee. We are using coffee to bring peace to
Liner notes also include information about each track, including and English translation of the lyrics.
Behind every cup of coffee is a story. See J. J. Keki tell his.
I am a dancer and while traveling the coffee lands I actively miss all the dance and music that were part of my life in New York. Perhaps the next installment of When Coffee Speaks will be in East Africa, where coffee and song and dance support one another and are all woven into the fabric of daily life.
Unfortunately, the international coffee machine is not at a place where people who grow coffee cannot consistently make a living doing it. Support community art that helps fill in the gaps of a broken commodity system and help the people affected by its broken-ness as they advocate for themselves and work to fix it.
Get a fee download of the song “Get up and Grow Coffee”