Dartmouth’s David Harrison is a man of many talents. On top of a career as a planning and development consultant working towards age-friendly and healthier communities, he is also a talented musician who specializes in trumpet and guitar. He and Dr. Henry Bishop co-lead a world music group called Moja Makani which also includes Reeny Smith, Shirley Jackson, Dave Skinner, and Craig Pothier.
Harrison is combining his love for music and his love for community development through sales of a CD he has created. It includes ambient flugelhorn and other tracks with world music overtones. The funds raised will go to three Halifax-based charities doing work in ten African countries.
Tell us about your CD.
The CD is called “Reflections” and it includes 15 instrumental pieces that are my own compositions. People will find the music on the CD to be melodic and relaxing. The CD includes some acoustic guitar music, ambient music with flugelhorn, and some up-tempo pieces with world music overtones.
What three charities is the CD sales supporting?
The three charities are based here in HRM. Themba Development Project is doing sustainable agriculture and early child nutrition work in South Africa and Lesotho; the Patoria Arts and Education Foundation is focused on re-opening a preparatory school in Accra, Ghana; and CHAMA (Challenging Aids and Malaria in Africa) is supporting health and infrastructure needs in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Liberia.
How did you become involved with these groups?
I read about Catherine Robar’s work with Themba in Halifax Magazine and we became Facebook friends, but when I visited South Africa and Namibia in 2012 we weren’t able to meet then. Last summer Moja Makani performed at Alderney Landing Theatre with Toria Aidoo and her daughters. That introduced the band to Ghanian and Zimbabwean music, and also to Toria’s efforts to re-open the Thomas Wood Preparatory School in Ghana. Then, just before the CD was finished, I was sitting beside Mr. Olugu Ukpai at an African development workshop last November in Dartmouth. He told me he had lost his 16 month old daughter to malaria in Nigeria while he was studying here at Dalhousie University and that he has committed his life to preventing malaria and AIDS. So the sale of the CD is dedicated to the 3 groups. With the help of Alderney Landing, the African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes, and NS Dept. of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Moja Makani featured the charities at our “Freedom of the Drum” concert held at the end of February and we raised some money for them at that time.
Why do you think the work of these charities is important?
If you ever get a chance to visit Africa, it is safe to say that Africa will change you. For me, since Moja Makani uses music to promote cultural diversity, it seemed obvious we should reach out to these groups and support their work in so many countries. These charities are unknown in our own community, but they are doing innovative, sustainable work in Africa. CHAMA just completed a well in rural Nigeria, using NSCC solar technology, capable of delivering clean water to 40,000 people. Since the Freedom of the Drum concert at Alderney Landing, I have learned that there are about 10 local groups doing work in Africa, and also that 25% of Nova Scotia’s immigration comes from Africa and the Middle East. So there is a growing connection between Nova Scotia and Africa that needs to be nurtured. For enhancing education, agricultural sustainability, better health and disease prevention in Africa, all efforts are important. I also think that by helping Africa we are helped, by promoting multi-culturalism here and by enriching our own community too.
How can people purchase copies of Reflections?
They can be purchased on line at the Moja Makani web site at http://mojamakani.ca/. The cost is $19.99, and 100% of all sale proceeds go to the charities.