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June 6, 2015

[Volunteer] NyamaNyama 2015 – Artistic Week of Diébougou –

From May 30th to June 6th 2015, the first edition of a new prototype of international art festival was held in Diébougou, a small city located in the southwest region of Burkina Faso. NyamaNyama, the title of the festival, means "garbage" in the local language and represents the main theme of the festival. Art and garbage are two concepts that might be seen as having nothing in common; both could be deemed useless in society but at the same time, they could be essential if being looked at from a different angle. Art can become garbage and garbage can become art. The theme of the festival addresses ways to create something valuable from those being considered invaluable.

The project was initiated by a JICA volunteer allocated to Health Districts of Diébougou, a representative of the local theater association, and a photographer from New York. It was organized with the collaboration of a local committee comprised of the voluntary collaborators of Diébougou. Participating artists have arrived, not only from Diébougou, but also from Ouagadougou, and overseas: Tokyo, Paris and New York. Peace Corps volunteers from the United States participated as vendors and artists as well and became such important member of the team. During the day, various workshops for children were held: drawing technique taught by local artist and creation of art objects made from garbage collected in the area. The evening program included film screenings of art pieces donated by artists from all over the world and live performances of many genres: theater, dance, music, and more. The closing night ceremony began with the speech by the Japanese Ambassador, which excited the population with the news of his first time visit to Diébougou.

The project ended up assembling almost 250 participants in total; about 160 artists, 50 artisans and vendors, and 30 organizers. The number of the night program's spectators reached 1,735 attendees. The entrance fee to the night performances was fixed to 100 Fcfa (17 American cents), and was used for the work of city's cleaning: getting rid of all the garbage in a street at the center of the city where the garbage was almost encroaching on the road. The art objects created during the festival are going to be placed there as a monument to promote public awareness to this matter.

The first annual festival has come to an end but the event involved not only those who were in the team but many other locals. A large number of organizers and visitors have since taken the initiative of using trash cans and teaching children the importance of an alternative action than the one they are used to aka polluting the streets. The citizens who live near the cleaned up area were very grateful for the action that the project has taken.

Without a doubt, the title of the festival « NyamaNyama », a word very familiar to the population, has contributed to the success of encouraging the public awareness to the issue of garbage. As for the artistic activities, the number of participating children in the workshop increased day by day. The local artists being inspired by the exchanges with other artists of other regions and other countries have shown in the development of performances they gave at the end of the festival.

The organizers are planning to make NyamaNyama an annual event and have already started looking for the sponsors and financing for the second installment that is programed for March 2016. For the next festival, they aim to reinforce the following actions:

  • Separating recyclable garbage from non-recyclable garbage
  • Cleaning up the city of Diébougou
  • Organizing artistic workshops for the local children and young artists
  • Strengthening traditions (foods, music, furniture, masks and more) to
  • appreciate and preserve the culture of their own
  • Making products with the collaboration of the artists from foreign countries and local artisans
  • Connecting artists Burkinabe with all the African countries and other foreign countries

Official Site: http://www.nyamanyama.org/ (external link)

Photo Diary: https://www.storehouse.co/nyamanyama_org (external link)

PhotoWith the banner made from garbage

PhotoTraditional night


PhotoThe street before and after the cleaning up activity

PhotoThe street before and after the cleaning up activity

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