Distinguished Lecture Series: Chinobay
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Born and raised in Kampala, Uganda, Chinobay (née Herbert Kinobe) grew up playing the instruments of local Buganda musicians who provided the soundtrack for the Kanyange king’s palace just up the hill from his house. Deeply influenced by these musicians and their history of resistance, much of Chinobay’s earlier work featured folk songs that he learnt from these musicians. A few years later, he started to play updated versions of these folk classics and learning several traditional instruments. Now as a songwriter, educator, and intercultural facilitator, Chinobay’s original work brings people’s stories to life to show the richness of Africa in all of its facets––not only as a backdrop for suffering. His next Album, still in progress, is a meeting point for global cultures, incorporating contributions from numerous musicians from the Global South.
The son of two school teachers, Chinobay’s passion for arts pedagogy as a channel for social change has led him to follow in his parents’ footsteps as an arts educator. Chinobay started his engagement with cross-cultural exchange while still in elementary school, touring Europe in 1995 and sharing the sounds of Uganda with other school children as part of the school’s cultural troupe. In 1999, UNICEF Ambassador to Uganda Michel Sidibe heard Chinobay playing and invited him to join the GEM (Girl Education Movement) initiative, a campaign to advocate for free education for girls that had been denied the opportunity to be in school. Thanks to UNICEF, Chinobay was able to participate in seminars and workshops where his music acted as a powerful tool to reach, communicate with, and educate many people in rural areas about the importance of women’s education. Chinobay’s role as UNICEF ambassador allowed him to delve into the field of social responsibility, and his music permanently shifted to socially relevant topics, with the goal of helping to improve the lives of children.
These formative international and philanthropic experiences would eventually translate into Dance of Hope, Chinobay’s arts education project curated in 2010 in partnership with M-LISADA, a children’s center in Kampala, Uganda. In Dance of Hope, young performers from underprivileged communities and challenging background use the transformational and healing power of music by coming together to hone their craft of music, dance, and percussion, and offer workshops globally to children and families in diverse communities. In 2019 Chinobay also founded the 501(c)3 organization World Bridge Foundation, a philanthropic endeavor dedicated to improving the livelihoods of vulnerable communities through arts and education.