TALKING ABOUT THE TAMERRI FESTIVAL
Tamerri, what does this word mean?
In this murky and uncertain existence of ours, Tamerri is said, by sources on the Internet, to mean ‘beloved land’. The murkiness or uncertainty referred to is in relation to the authenticity and veracity of ancient history; owing to human biases intrinsic to their study and recreation.
According to the website, Tamerri was established to create an alternate reality. Is this reality a hybrid of Nigerian/African and Western cultures or is it about travelling back in time within a specific culture?
This is such a thought-provoking question that it almost sparks an existential crisis. To give a useful answer, an analogy may be helpful. Much like a tree draws nutrients from the soil comprising previously living things, most beings draw their essence and ideas from what has been before. Colonization and its cousin, globalization seem to have cemented our ‘hybridity’ in so many ways, any claim of authentic indigeneity may be somewhat inaccurate and shallow. The reality of the Tamerri Festival –or what we would prefer it to be – is that the culture is a ‘human’ one. We want this human culture to be accessible to people who understand, or are curious about, what it is to be human and of African origin.
Nigerians claim that much of their culture is lost, is the Tamerri Festival attempting to reintroduce aspects (or the entirety) of specific cultures?
We would love for it to achieve that. It would pay homage to African diversity.
To create such an event, we assume that much research has gone into the planning and execution of the festival. What have been your challenges so far?
Getting resources and people to support, believe and understand our idea and the concept we are trying to present. We also had issues with making decisions about what to place emphasis on. Our dreams for Tamerri were sprawling, complex and difficult to rein in.
It takes a lot to capture the attention of the Nigerian community, what are the main features of the event?
In the first manifestation, a single fee granted the visitor access to over 6 events spread over 2 days. These events included; 2 nights of live music; film screening; an exhibition of Afrocentric and cultural clothing; poetry/spoken word; conversations; masquerades and displays of cultural dance; art and photography exhibitions; and a children’s funfair. There were also side attractions like martial arts and a human library.
To maintain the integrity of the event, are guests and artists expected to come in national costume or dress?
Come as you are or as you would like to be seen.
The pilot edition of the festival was held in Abuja. Will future events be held in other states and what kinds of themes should we expect?
Time will tell.
You worked with painters and sculptors in the first edition. For the next, will you be collaborating with other kinds of artists, for example dancers?
We have worked with dancers and acrobats; there were many activities, it was positive mayhem, but yes, we would love to expand the qualia of artistry in the experience.
When is the next edition and will it contain additional features?
If our intentions come to fruition, it will be in April 2017. We had many displays during the first one so it is going to be a balancing act between doing what we did better and attempting new things.
What do you hope to achieve with the festival and how far from your goals were you with the first edition?
Call it social-sculpture; we’d like to facilitate the imagination of different ways of being, as well as the development of better futures. In the full-length/detailed report we wrote to try to answer this, we were slightly off in some aspects and way off on others. However, in the ballpark overall, you can read the report, check out some visuals and then give us your verdict. It was a markedly ambitious undertaking.
Image credits: http://www.tamerrifestival.com
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