The local performing arts collective Tribe Sankofa celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
The group plans to execute a series of events which reflect their core values, while celebrating the milestone and paying tribute to their allies and supporters who, through the years, have supported and facilitated the collective's growth.
Tribe Sankofa was founded in 2012 by Fabian M Thomas, who now serves as its artistic director. He described the troupe as “…borrowed and original spoken word, poetry, soulful song styling uniquely blended with other visual and performing arts”.
The collective, since its inception, has sought to introduce a new dynamic to Jamaica's theatre arts landscape and the world at large. They have shared their interpretations of works by critically acclaimed poets and writers such as Lorna Goodison, Derrick Walcott, Olive Senior, Mervyn Morris, Oku Onuora, Claude McKay, Toni Morrison, Sunni Patterson, Rudy Francisco, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. They have also presented unflinching examinations of issues, such as police killings/brutality, gender-based violence, racism, blackness, and self-discovery.
Thomas and his tribe have shared their distinctive style and repertoire in various spaces, including the Lignum Vitae Awards, Gungo Walk Alternative Music and Arts Festival, Arts in the Park, and the investiture of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica. The collective proved their determination to their mission in 2017 when they performed at CARIFESTA 2017 despite having funding issues and not being part of Jamaica's official contingent. Their resilience has further been proven through their quick adaptation to the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The collective overcame the obstacles posed, pivoted, and presented its first virtual season via Zoom in August 2020.
Tribe Sankofa will be launching a GoFundMe initiative later this year to offset the costs for delivering on a number of the activities which form part of the 10th-anniversary celebrations.
“We will be producing two mini documentaries, one of which is an ethno documentary on black hair and will involve an assortment of performances, tributes, and recollections. We will also be launching our chatbook of original poetry and, on December 5, which is the actual anniversary of Tribe Sankofa, we are planning a multimedia live stream,” Thomas told the Jamaica Observer