Daniel and Denis of the London-based band Ganda Boys have come a long way since their formation in 2009 while on BBC drama Moses Jones. After a decade of performing stunning shows all over the world — over 90 Sofar shows! — we sat down with them to learn a little more about their journey as both impressive musicians and compassionate philanthropists.
“We grew up in Uganda,” the Ganda Boys told us, “and migrated to London in the early 2000s.” The name Ganda Boys establishes their identity as artists from the Buganda tribe, the biggest kingdom in Uganda, and eludes to both their heritage and their dedication to combating poverty.
Since starting The Ganda Foundation in 2009, the Ganda Boys have helped refugees in Uganda pursue better lives and have so far helped over 2,000 girls receive access to the menstrual care they need through their Period Poverty Elimination campaign. In rural Uganda, 28% of girls don’t go to school when they get their period, causing them to miss around 20% of the school year — all because girls do not have access to proper sanitary products or hygienic toilets. Their goal is to reach 1 million girls by 2022.
“We spend time with the women and children in refugee settlement camps and rural Uganda. During our interactions with the mothers, menstruation and lack of sanitary towels came up. They felt free to share with us, despite us being men. They can’t attend the makeshift classes, stuck at home with their periods,” Dennis and Daniel told us. Their foundation helps provide hygienic toilets and menstrual products to communities who don’t otherwise have access to them.
“We see a 12-year-old girl get married off because she can’t attend school, since it’s a sign she’s ready to give birth. A reusable sanitary towel can delay this, and it doesn’t call for a lot. We started slowly and mainly communicated to the Sofar community at our shows, and it picked up interest and people started making donations.”
Women in the refugee camps and rural communities make handicrafts that the Ganda Boys then sell at their Sofar shows. 100% of the money raised for the foundation comes from merch sales and word-of-mouth donations from Ganda Boys’ Sofar shows around the world. When asked about what Sofar has meant to them, they said:
“Sofar was an opportunity we would have otherwise never have gotten. Our type of music isn’t easily consumed because of people’s mindsets. After we play, the minds change and we get cues at our crafts stall. Our music and storytelling creates the much needed awareness. No one would have given us the opportunity to engage with the audience on that one to one level. It’s been an amazing platform to use our skills and our storytelling, to use traditional instruments in a cozy, intimate setting. After a few Sofars, we realized we felt at home. We felt the audience was paying full attention. They were taking a lot from our performances and we were learning a lot too, engaging with these people we met for the first time, these people who have never heard of us but were willing to give us a chance. They were willing to help and contribute to the cause with the crafts and making donations.”