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June 30 2017

INTERVIEW JUNE 2017 | Manasse Nguinambaye - Arterial Network Chad

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Since January 2017, RECAF has been Arterial Network’s official affiliate in Chad. The Réseau Culturel et Artistique pour la Formation et la Francophonie (RECAF), renamed "Renewed by Culture, Art and Formation,” is a cultural, artistic and literary organisation established in N'Djaména in 1999.

In order to highlight the work of Arterial Network members and the richness and diversity of the continent, ARTERIAL NETWORK met with Manasse Nguinambaye, Chairperson of RECAF/ Arterial Network Chad, to find out more about his work, his passions and his country.

ARTERIAL NETWORK: Could you tell us a bit about your work in Chad and with RECAF? How did you come to work in the arts and cultural sector?

To begin right at the start, at 12 years old I was already a self-taught artist specialising in theatre and painting. When I went to college, I had to stop because of the pressure from my parents to devote myself to my studies. But not long after that I took it up again, and even began to experiment with what I called "architectural sculpture.” I was also a chorister and storyteller in church at the time. Oddly enough, thanks to my painting and sculpture, I could pay for the rest of my high school tuition. After my first university degree (which had nothing to do with art), I said to myself, "It is thanks to my artistic work that I became what I am and I have to devote myself to helping those who can also excel in this field.” Along with two friends, we created "RECAF" in 1999. This allowed us to run activities in schools with limited resources. In 2001, we were recognised for our work by the French Embassy in Chad who then entrusted us with a general culture and la Francophonie competition that we ran across the entire country. This activity increased our profile beyond N'Djaména.

Then in 2002, I was chosen by the NGO Arts et Média d’Afrique based in Lille (France) to organise the first edition of the Fest'Africa Festival in Chad to celebrate their ten year anniversary. Two editions of Fest'Africa were held in Chad in 2003 and 2005. In 2007, I became the Director of the Maison de la Culture Baba Moustapha in N'Djaména for a few months. Then I created the International Music Festival "NdjamVi", the first edition of which was held in December 2007. After the second edition of the NdjamVi Festival in 2008, I also set up a modestly equipped space called "Espace de Création et d’Accompagnement Musical" which allowed young struggling artists to work and develop their talents. The space is in dire need of refurbishment to enable the young people who use it to work under better conditions. In 2009, I relabeled "Hip-Hop Month" to "Ndjam Hip-Hop," which is an event that was organised jointly with the Institut Français every February.

RECAF became a national NGO in September 2014 and its mission is to be a programme of cultural development and cooperation. It continues to bring together cultural actors (artists, places and structures) who share a common goal. RECAF is part of an active process towards development of the sector, by integrating the search for cultural identity and the loyalty of a local public, alongside the structuring and professionalisation of local cultural actors and artists. It also offers the opportunity to create, to train and/ or to integrate into existing networks (national and international), as well as to facilitate the circulation of artists and their works.

To implement these goals, RECAF spreads its work and activities through the Espace de Création et d’Accompagnement Musical, Ndjam Hip-Hop and the NdjamVi Festival, and through collaborations with the various French Chancelleries across Chad.

In short, RECAF has allowed me to touch on all sectors of art in Chad through daily activities that I bring to artists, promoters and others. As a result of my extensive work, I was renamed the head of the Maison de la Culture Baba Moustapha in September 2014.

Very few people know much about Chad. What are the artistic and cultural specificities of this country? What are the major events taking place in N'Djaména?

Chad is very touristy because of its landscape and its strong oral tradition. The land abounds with exceptionally beautiful natural landmarks, and a pure and authentic folkloric tradition. Variety and complementarity, beauty and nobility, myth and tradition are the traits that best characterise Chadian culture. The talent and value of our folklore groups is well known and traditional dance is represented in all ceremonies, while the craftsmanship of Chad remains the most faithful ancestral know-how. Two sites in Chad are included on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list, namely the Salt Lake of Ounianga and Ennedi Massif.

The major artistic and cultural events in N'Djaména are the NdjamVi Festival (International Festival of Music and Professional Encounters), FIADPUP (International Festival of Dramatic and Plastic Arts for Union and Peace), FETAAR (the Afro-Arab Theatre Festival), the International Festival of Hip Hop and Urban Cultures, “N'djam s'enflamme en slam” (slam poetry) and the dance festival, Souar-Souar.

Since January 2017, RECAF has been an affiliated organisation of Arterial Network. What does this mean to you? And how do you think a pan-African organisation like Arterial Network can better serve the artistic and cultural community in Chad?

First, I would say that our work on the ground is recognised, and this work has crossed the Chadian borders. Otherwise, it would not have been possible for RECAF to become affiliated with Arterial Network. Much remains to be done, and we believe that a network like Arterial Network can help us with capacity building, market access, knowledge management and the dissemination of information for both our local and international projects. It is very useful and beneficial to have a network that facilitates partnerships within civil society, across national borders and between African and international partners, in order to develop a sustainable creative sector.

* Manasse Nguinambaye, Jean Luc Gbati Sonhaye (Togo), Fernand Ateba Ossende (Cameroon) and Pierre Claver Mabiala (Congo Brazzaville) in Abidjan, March 2017

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

To complete the year 2017, we are working on various training programmes, including one in stage performance techniques (8 to 12 November), one in sound and light techniques (12 to 27 November) and another in collective musical creation (13 - 27 November). Following these, the 11th edition of the NdjamVi festival will take place between the 28th of November and the 2nd of December in N'Djaména and Koumra.

Interviewer: Marie-Louise Rouget, Arterial Network

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