Patrice Naiambana, 11 January 2016

African Diaspora Performance Heritage Symposium (2days)

Tribal Soul Arts CIC - Founder/Animateur Patrice Naiambana

I proposed this title as focus group plans and meetings were already underway. I

thought it would be a good opportunity to see what responses might be raised here at

D&D. First time at D&D. It was a spur of the moment lurch.

I was encouraged by Phelim saying if it was important to you then it was important to


Ensconced in silence and invisibility is The African Voice, Thinkers,Thinking,

Aesthetics, African Intercultural Hinterland and her Diverse Ecology of Cultures as

they evolve in the Diaspora space. Putting Flesh on Silence has been at the centre of

Tribal Soul Arts' work since 1991 and countless conversations amongst artists and

communities that I have encountered in the UK and wider Diaspora Spaces. Now,

there’s no point talking about Diversity without a preparedness to engage the interiority

of difference with compassionate listening. Which is the logic underpinning behind the


I did not substantially preface our group meeting with the above rationale, I wanted to

listen to responses to the mouthful of words ‘African Diaspora Performance Heritage’ -

so here in paraphrased summary are some of the responses which can be segregated

into two bald categories, there was a Devoted tone from folks and a politely

Disgruntled disposition. We had a third tribe, white folks who listened respectfully but

didn’t speak. Also one white African who contributed constructively with practical

suggestions. These are my impressions and not a verbatim record.

Why the word ’African', this is why there are only black people here. We should find a

way to cross-pollinate, all should feel free to be included.

Well just look who is sitting here.

But we are Africans.

This is a repetition of other symposiums. Same old merry merry go round.

I am tired of hearing the victim story. What about stories of victories.

Have you thought about your audience?

The Diaspora is huge, Africa is huge, there’s a danger of the symposium being


Other organisations have done stuff like this. What can you achieve in 2 days

Who has done this before?


Was Africa and African aesthetics/aesthesis the focus? (Question asked post meeting)


I am not saying this is not a valid idea but…

What are the outcomes?

Your marketing. If only four people turn up, the funders wont be happy.

The Business side that’s what we really need to hear about.

The Business side, The Business side…

I think it is really rich idea, I feel isolated and want to find out more about my identity

as I am of Nigerian descendent and I have questions which are I feel something like

this would really address.

I am working class Black from what might be called the Ghetto - something like this

will speak to me and the younger people from my environment.

It is good to hear from those who have long and diverse experience as artists. This is

a good idea.

That’s all past work. We need opportunities to do the ‘work’. Let the work speak not

more conversations.

What’s the Legacy? Will it be every year? Will the themes change?

Artists need to document their work.

Patrice asks who has documented their work.

Patrice interjects defensively a number of times - but then realises a moderator should


An Arts Council officer was present, explained her role post meeting.

Patrice asks if everyone would be happy to be to contacted for updates and their

continued thoughts.

All signed up.

I have a space if you need one for the next focus group.


I learnt a lot. Will march on with this initiative. Will invite members of this forum to lead

small focus groups in their own areas and networks to interrogate the proposition -

leading to a clarification of aims, symposium format and format etc.

A very worthwhile exercise. Many thanks to those who participated and Improbable.

Initiatives like these will civilise Great Britain.


african diaspora, tribal soul arts

Comments: 1

Amy Clare Tasker, 13 January 2016

Hello Patrice! I was intrigued by your session, very sorry not to have made it, and not to have met you in person at D&D.

I am working on cultural identity in my most recent project, Home Is Where…, a verbatim/music/movement performance

with and about Third Culture Kids, people who grew up in a different culture than their parents and created their own hybrid

identity. (more at

My piece is not about African identities specifically, but I can see ways in which our work intersects. I'd love to keep in touch as your project develops. Thanks! [email protected]